Venturing into the unknown can be frightening, but ultimately rewarding. How far are you willing to explore?
Culture page of @FamousFolks [www.famousfolks.ca]
Venturing into the unknown can be frightening, but ultimately rewarding. How far are you willing to explore?
Sometimes opportunities are difficult to see, other times, they kick you in the ass. The important thing is to grab them when they appear!
Flying cars. Food in pill form. Colonies on the moon. We’ve been promised many amazing things ‘in the future’. In part two of our look at influential technologies, we’re polishing off our crystal ball and examining three emerging technologies that we believe fundamentally change the way we interact with the world and with each other.
In the science fiction television show Star Trek, the crew of the Enterprise could ‘create’ a meal, drink or even simple objects to a device called a ‘replicator’ with a voice command. The object would be constructed at the molecular level in seconds. While we may not have access to 24th century technology, 3D printing will allow us to instantly manufacture any physical item, from food to bicycles, using printer technology. Already, things ranging from toys to cars to living structures are being printed, and because the process is done by adding layers of materials on top of one another, they are printed fully assembled and decorated, too. The impact this will have on the manufacturing industry alone is staggering. There is even work being done on 3D ‘bio-printers’, allowing the construction of custom organs for transplant recipients. In fact, a 12 year old Chinese boy with bone cancer has recently been given the world’s first 3D-printed vertebrae in a groundbreaking procedure.
We’ve had some form of wearable technology for sometime, such as the calculator watch, and more recently, fitness tracking wristbands like Nike’s Fuel Band. In the next decade however, wearable technology will become far more pervasive and far more invisible. The capability of Google glass will be incorporated into contact lenses. Clothing will contain all manner of information processing capabilities, from analyzing the environment and adjusting itself for the wearer’s comfort to health and fitness tracking, such as the sensor-laden ‘Move’ Pilates shirt designed by Jennifer Darmour.
The Internet of Things
We have long passed the threshold where more things are connected to the Internet than people. Cisco IBSG predicts the number of Internet-connected things will reach 50 billion by 2020, which equates to more than six devices for every person on Earth. Many of us in the developed world already have three or more full-time devices connected to the Internet when factoring in PCs, smartphones, tablets and television devices, just to name a few. Next to come are home automation systems, wearable technology such as sneakers, and even medical exploratory surgical devices. There’s even a tree in Sweden (yes, I said a tree) wired with sensors that tweets its mood and thoughts, with a bit of translation help from software developed by Ericsson (@connectedtree or #ectree).
We may not have all the technologies that have been dreamt up over the years, nor are we likely to be commuting to work in gravity-defying vehicles, but the emerging technologies mentioned here are extremely exciting and continue to push the envelope via innovation. Are these the only significant technology trends for the next decade? Not even close! Here’s a few examples:
- Biotechnology, such as non-surgical bionics.
- Dynamic architecture, which will be used by the incredible rotating tower in Dubai.
- Space Tourism, such as that provided by Virgin Galactic.
It’s safe to say that with the emerging technologies and innovations coming in the next decade, futurists from 1950 wouldn’t even recognize our world, much less be able to predict our advances. What new technologies are you most excited about in the coming years?
'Impossible' really depends on your perspective. How do you define impossible?
Do you remember a time before Google? A time when cars only ran on gasoline and ‘mobile computing’ meant calculating how long you had to run to work off that latte? The last ten years has seen a seismic shift in the tools we use to go about our daily lives. In this first of a two part series, we’ll take a brief look at three influential innovations over the last decade. In part two we’ll put on our shiny prognostication hat and look ahead to the next decade and the emerging technologies that will change our world. (Spoiler: It looks nothing like the Jetson’s.)
Next Generation Electric Cars
We truly are a culture of the automobile. It’s almost impossible to imagine our world without cars. As with all good things, however, there was a price to be paid. Air and noise pollution from oil and gas-fueled automobiles threatened to choke our largest cities. New thinking was required. When inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk began delivering Tesla Roadsters to customers in 2008, that new thinking had arrived. Telsa’s plug in electric vehicles’ sales jumped from just 19 in 2010 to roughly 95,000 as of June 2013. The world was hungry for change.
In February 2005, the video-sharing website YouTube launched and rapidly became a pop culture mainstay. For the first time, the average person had unprecedented influence over the media. With just a handheld video camera (or even a phone), anyone in the world could record and broadcast newsworthy events or cat videos. International bloggers started telling stories swept under the rug by authoritarian regimes. User-edited Wikipedia became (and remains) the resource of choice for people around the world. The user-generated movement became so compelling that in 2006 Time magazine named “You” its Person of the Year. As musician and Queen of Twitter Amanda Palmer (whose album and tour was funded through a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign) often proclaims to her fans, “We are the media.”
As you may imagine, social media is the primary vehicle for this new wave of user-generated content. Through it, we’ve brought about change in the world, such as the massive fundraising campaigns for the Haiti earthquake in 2010, redefined journalism – the death of Osama Bin Laden was being reported on Twitter before the major news outlets caught wind of it – and created entertainment stars like Justin Bieber. (Well… Nobody’s perfect.)
There was a time when a ‘computer’ was a beige (or if you were really cool, black) box on your desk, attached to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. It was a ‘home’ or ‘office’ device. The idea of being ‘mobile’ usually meant using a notebook computer, a device that in those days weighed almost as much as the desktop model, making it less than ideal to carry about all day. Fast-forward a few years, and while of course desktop computers still exist, they are rapidly being replaced with more compact and light notebook computers. Another fast growing group have decided to forgo the traditional form factor entirely, opting for a handheld device like a tablet or smartphone. People are now composing documents, making music and even editing videos on portable devices that weigh about the same as a desktop computer’s keyboard. Increasingly, smartphones and tablet are being used as primary computing devices. CCS Insight, a telecommunications analyst firm, predicts that by 2017 more mobile devices will be in use than there are people on the planet – about 6.6 billion, if you were wondering.
These are just a few of the technologies that have altered our world in the last decade. There are many more of course, the mapping of the human genome, surgical robotics, the ostrich pillow, etc.
Next week, we’ll be looking into the future to predict the most influential innovations that are still to come. In the meantime, what do you think was the most influential piece of technology from the last decade?
The week has come to an end and that means it’s time for another #FamousFriday artist profile! This week we’re looking at Halifax-born orchestrated-pop group The Heavy Blinkers! Check them out here on their track “Where You Go” from their 2013 release, ‘Health’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APJuYnFLPwE
Every day is an new opportunity to do something amazing. What extraordinary thing will you do today?
Pubic speaking. Few things instill more fear in people than the idea of speaking in front of others. As has been shown countless times in surveys, the average person fears public speaking even more than death. As Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once adroitly observed, “That means you’d rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy!”
One form of public speaking that inspires a particularly potent fear reaction is stand up comedy. Standing on a stage, armed only with a microphone and material that you hope will make people laugh is not most people’s idea of fun. It is however an incredibly empowering experience, even when it doesn’t work.
Comedian George Carlin once said that, from the performer’s perspective, the entire point of comedy was, “Dig me!” implying that most comics have an overactive need for attention. That may be partially true, but there is another factor at work here.
Stand up comedy, more so than any other type of public speaking, is an adrenaline rush. The risks involved are far greater (and far more visceral) than they are when presenting that sales report. Odds are, if your presentation doesn’t go over as well as you’d like, you’ll still get polite applause. With comedy, you don’t wait until the end to see how it’s working – the response (or lack thereof) of the audience will tell you what you need to know. The rewards however, are equally great.
Performing on a stage is an act that gives both to the performer, and to the audience. For the audience, laughter releases endorphins into the body, relieves stress, and (according to doctors) boosts the immune system. For the performer, there is an almost electric connection that forms when your audience seems to say, “Yes, we understand, that is funny!”
That said, sometimes the opposite occurs. You deliver a particularly good bit, but it falls flat. It could be the material, the delivery, the audience, there’s no way to know for sure. The feeling of failure (or ‘bombing’ as it’s called) can be devastating and embarrassing, for both the performer and the audience.
So why do it you ask? Why stand on stage and put yourself out there, exposed and raw, taking the chance of your hard work falling flat? As with any risk, you must balance the benefits against the drawbacks. On one hand, you might suffer momentary embarrassment. On the other, you’re doing something very few people have the courage to do (perform in a comedy club). You’re also making people happy. Not bad for six minutes of courage.
The willingness to take risks is a trait common to all great leaders - blazing new trails ultimately leads to greater success and inspires the people that surround these individuals. Leaders have courage as a trait too, courage to move into new areas while others wait for better circumstances, or assured results. If there is a theme to doing business in the 21st century, then it has to be, “Innovation through consistent reinvention.”
The leaders who truly change the world recognize three key benefits of risk taking that allow them to truly make a difference in their organizations and in themselves. They are: awareness, enthusiasm and knowledge.
One of the greatest benefits of risk taking is that it increases awareness. Being openminded allows you to see opportunities for innovation that others may not, which will in turn inspire your teams to open their minds and encourage strategic risks.
We all know how infectious enthusiasm can be. Watch any speaker who communicates with unbridled passion, and you will often find yourself caught up in the emotion of the moment, even if the subject is not one in which you were initially interested. Being enthusiastic about the projects you’re working on will build morale and help alleviate fears over perceived risks.
Taking a risk is the best way, indeed often the only way, to increase your knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. The phrase “it can / can’t be done” is based as much on belief as it is on factual information. By increasing your knowledge either through past experience or through research, you gain much needed insight as to the viability of a particular project, and can therefore manage its risk more effectively.
In the end, great leaders promote innovation by cultivating risk-taking in themselves and empowering their teams to make calculated decisions, adjusting strategies when they don’t work. When you encourage your people to bring new ideas to the table and trust them to take managed risks, you end up with a team of innovators focused on growing the organization.
So, are you ready to tap into your (and your team’s) inner mad genius and take the risks that will propel your organization to the next level?