Innovations That Make Us Think Differently About The World

 

Every day, I see or read about innovations that force us to think differently about some part of the world.

Electronic cigarettes

One recent example is the electronic cigarette, which has been invented by tobacco companies to separate the unquestionably negative attributes of tobacco ingestion, the exhaling of smoking, the ingestion of tar and other hazardous chemicals, and the creation of fire hazards from cigarette butts and ashes, from other attributes that are important to tobacco marketers, but are less obviously harmful, such as the addictive qualities of tobacco.  The March 2 issue of The Wall Street Journal highlights the battle between proponents and opponents of electronic cigarettes, but it has the most difficulty with a vocabulary that is poorly suited for this product.  A lot of the terms we associate with tobacco no longer make sense, such as “smoking” or “lighting up a cigarette.

E-books

The electronic book has changed how we think about reading material.  Bookstores become showrooms for content we download instantaneously (possibly from a vendor other than the owner of the bookstore) and can take with us anywhere we have a portable electronic device.  That device can provide us with enlarged print, the ability to convert text to speech, and, most importantly, can give us the ability to carry a library with us everywhere we go.

The traditional library, equipped with the ability to acquire and download e-books, now has the ability to download a book for a specific time period and to disable the book when that time period has expired.  The whole world of missing books and late fees disappears, as do return slots outside the library.

The other major paradigm change is the likely growth of self-published e-books.  Publishers were the “gatekeepers” of traditional hard cover and paperback books because of the cost of producing them.  Self-published books became more popular in the last decade because the cost of digital printing was sufficiently low, and the quality of digital printing had improved sufficiently, that individuals could pay for relatively short production runs of self-published books.

Today, there is no “production” cost of self-published e-books.  Amazon.com allows self-published books, articles, and white papers to be marketed on its web site in the same way as it allows individuals to sell their used copies of published hard-copy books online. I am considering availing myself of this option at some point when I have somewhat more time available.

“Driving” a car

One of the most exciting long-term trends in the technology of automobiles is the evolution from individuals controlling all aspects of driving an automobile to having more automatic, technology-controlled management of driving tasks.  Today, higher-end cars have audible warning noises to make a driver aware that he or she is close to making contact with another object, whether it is another car, a tree, a curb, or some other physical barrier. Some prototypes actually correct the car’s movement on a highway to keep it from crossing into another lane.

The ultimate goal of car manufacturers is to combine the benefits of the freedom that being in an individual provides with the benefits of having a completely safe automobile that drives itself under little or no control by the occupants.  We are probably 1-2 decades away from having a completely automated fleet of cars and trucks on the road, but there are several obvious advantages of moving in this direction:

  • Fewer accidents and fatalities;
  • The ability to have vehicles spaced closer together on roads, which would increase road capacity; and
  • The ability of occupants to perform other tasks that require the use of both of their hands inside the vehicle.

Cars will evolve from being something in which we “drive” to something in which we “ride,” except that there will be no “driver.”  We could even envision a future in which there would be no limousine or car service drivers, since the car would drive itself, park itself, and even return home from where it dropped off someone, such as at an airport.

Going to “restaurants”

In the last few years, the line between traditional “grocery stores” and other non-home meal venues and “restaurants” has become blurred.  Because grocery stores now sell ready-to-eat foods and have created seating areas with microwave ovens, paper plates, plastic silverware and condiments, they can become destinations for a sit-down meal.

I regularly have meals at the Whole Foods in my town. However, I also discovered this as a dinner option in a recent visit to Columbus, Ohio, when I had a dinner consisting of grilled salmon and two healthy vegetables at the Whole Foods in Worthington, Ohio.  I avoided the heavy, less healthy meals available at my hotel or at the many fast food places near the hotel.  Increasingly, grocery stores, delicatessens, and even coffee bars have become places at which someone can order and eat a full, healthy meal on site, and take a computer and an I-pad and work while eating.

Libraries are also becoming places where people can eat a meal, especially since many people want to stay in a library during the lunch hour.  The Main Library in New York City at the edge of Bryant Park recently decided that it would create a place where people could eat meals provided by vending machines.

Wireless recharging

In the Sunday, March 11, 2012, New York Times Sunday Business section, reporter Anne Eisenberg described a new wireless battery recharging technology in an article entitled “Automatic Recharging From a Distance” The firm that invented this technology, WiTricity, is using well-established magnetic induction principles, but extending the capabilities of magnetic induction to several feet away from a recharging source.  The firm expects to have a product in the market within a year.  Imagine reducing the number of electrical outlets we need to have for recharging the devices on which we have come to depend.  Power strips expanded the number of plug-in opportunities decades ago.  This takes the power of electricity even further.

Summary comments

While the mass media, particularly national TV news channels, focus on what is going wrong and how we are a declining, stagnant society, major innovation is happening, and making a difference in our lives. As long as we draw upon the resourcefulness of all of our people, we will continue to make lives better.  These are just a few examples of some of the positive things I see every day, wherever I am in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

Every day, I see or read about innovations that force us to think differently about some part of the world.

Electronic cigarettes

One recent example is the electronic cigarette, which has been invented by tobacco companies to separate the unquestionably negative attributes of tobacco ingestion, the exhaling of smoking, the ingestion of tar and other hazardous chemicals, and the creation of fire hazards from cigarette butts and ashes, from other attributes that are important to tobacco marketers, but are less obviously harmful, such as the addictive qualities of tobacco.  The March 2 issue of The Wall Street Journal highlights the battle between proponents and opponents of electronic cigarettes, but it has the most difficulty with a vocabulary that is poorly suited for this product.  A lot of the terms we associate with tobacco no longer make sense, such as “smoking” or “lighting up a cigarette.

E-books

The electronic book has changed how we think about reading material.  Bookstores become showrooms for content we download instantaneously (possibly from a vendor other than the owner of the bookstore) and can take with us anywhere we have a portable electronic device.  That device can provide us with enlarged print, the ability to convert text to speech, and, most importantly, can give us the ability to carry a library with us everywhere we go.

The traditional library, equipped with the ability to acquire and download e-books, now has the ability to download a book for a specific time period and to disable the book when that time period has expired.  The whole world of missing books and late fees disappears, as do return slots outside the library.

The other major paradigm change is the likely growth of self-published e-books.  Publishers were the “gatekeepers” of traditional hard cover and paperback books because of the cost of producing them.  Self-published books became more popular in the last decade because the cost of digital printing was sufficiently low, and the quality of digital printing had improved sufficiently, that individuals could pay for relatively short production runs of self-published books.

Today, there is no “production” cost of self-published e-books.  Amazon.com allows self-published books, articles, and white papers to be marketed on its web site in the same way as it allows individuals to sell their used copies of published hard-copy books online. I am considering availing myself of this option at some point when I have somewhat more time available.

“Driving” a car

One of the most exciting long-term trends in the technology of automobiles is the evolution from individuals controlling all aspects of driving an automobile to having more automatic, technology-controlled management of driving tasks.  Today, higher-end cars have audible warning noises to make a driver aware that he or she is close to making contact with another object, whether it is another car, a tree, a curb, or some other physical barrier. Some prototypes actually correct the car’s movement on a highway to keep it from crossing into another lane.

The ultimate goal of car manufacturers is to combine the benefits of the freedom that being in an individual provides with the benefits of having a completely safe automobile that drives itself under little or no control by the occupants.  We are probably 1-2 decades away from having a completely automated fleet of cars and trucks on the road, but there are several obvious advantages of moving in this direction:

  • Fewer accidents and fatalities;
  • The ability to have vehicles spaced closer together on roads, which would increase road capacity; and
  • The ability of occupants to perform other tasks that require the use of both of their hands inside the vehicle.

Cars will evolve from being something in which we “drive” to something in which we “ride,” except that there will be no “driver.”  We could even envision a future in which there would be no limousine or car service drivers, since the car would drive itself, park itself, and even return home from where it dropped off someone, such as at an airport.

Going to “restaurants”

In the last few years, the line between traditional “grocery stores” and other non-home meal venues and “restaurants” has become blurred.  Because grocery stores now sell ready-to-eat foods and have created seating areas with microwave ovens, paper plates, plastic silverware and condiments, they can become destinations for a sit-down meal.

I regularly have meals at the Whole Foods in my town. However, I also discovered this as a dinner option in a recent visit to Columbus, Ohio, when I had a dinner consisting of grilled salmon and two healthy vegetables at the Whole Foods in Worthington, Ohio.  I avoided the heavy, less healthy meals available at my hotel or at the many fast food places near the hotel.  Increasingly, grocery stores, delicatessens, and even coffee bars have become places at which someone can order and eat a full, healthy meal on site, and take a computer and an I-pad and work while eating.

Libraries are also becoming places where people can eat a meal, especially since many people want to stay in a library during the lunch hour.  The Main Library in New York City at the edge of Bryant Park recently decided that it would create a place where people could eat meals provided by vending machines.

Wireless recharging

In the Sunday, March 11, 2012, New York Times Sunday Business section, reporter Anne Eisenberg described a new wireless battery recharging technology in an article entitled “Automatic Recharging From a Distance” The firm that invented this technology, WiTricity, is using well-established magnetic induction principles, but extending the capabilities of magnetic induction to several feet away from a recharging source.  The firm expects to have a product in the market within a year.  Imagine reducing the number of electrical outlets we need to have for recharging the devices on which we have come to depend.  Power strips expanded the number of plug-in opportunities decades ago.  This takes the power of electricity even further.

Summary comments

While the mass media, particularly national TV news channels, focus on what is going wrong and how we are a declining, stagnant society, major innovation is happening, and making a difference in our lives. As long as we draw upon the resourcefulness of all of our people, we will continue to make lives better.  These are just a few examples of some of the positive things I see every day, wherever I am in the United States.

 

 

 

 

One Response to “Innovations That Make Us Think Differently About The World”

  1. I agree, innovation brings positive results as long as we continue using our creativity every day.

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