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#548 – Lego Fusion

When I think about my niece and nephew and their future childhoods I have conflicting thoughts.  One the one hand I worry about their video screen saturated lives and wonder if they will lose their creativity as they trade in their imaginations for iPhones and other gadgets.  On the other hand I’m envious of all the incredible tech infused games that they are going to have at their disposal.  Whether we’re talking about virtual reality, augmented reality, or a real life filled with robots and 3-D printers there’s going to be an unlimited number of incredible toys for them to play with.  Toys that I’m inevitably going to be extremely jealous of.

Well, that jealousy starts today.  That’s because Lego has recently announced the creation of a hybrid real life/augmented reality game called Lego Fusion!! As if Legos needed another reason to be cool!

Essentially, the way that it works is that you build something in real life, say the front facade of a house, and then you scan that object into an app that turns your two dimensional creation into a three dimensional object in a virtual game.   For purposes of this example that game would be a virtual town where you may be tasked with building additional items in order to appease the people living in your town.  It’s basically a more hands on version of the Sims.  There are also games that enable you to build a car and then race them against your friends or build a castle and then fight off invaders.  In other words it’s only the greatest thing ever created.

Engadget sums it up best in a post from June 19th:

“If your child is constantly glued to a tablet swiping away at birds or fruit, you’re probably wistfully wishing for the days when kids liked playing with actual toys. Well, Lego just might have the perfect solution for you and your offspring. Today, the maker of the beloved construction bricks announced Lego Fusion, a system that combines the flexibility and fun of app-based games with the good ol’ fashioned activity of creative Lego building.”

The best part about this new game is that it sounds like the start of a trend.  One in which games blend the best parts of the analogue and digital worlds together.  If that’s true then I have nothing to worry about.  Our youth are going to be just fine after all.

Is Lego Fusion the Greatest Idea Ever?

It’s official.  I’m obsessed with American Pickers.  The evidence?  The fact that I stayed up to 4 am last night binge watching episodes from season one, the fact that I just ordered merchandise from their official website, the fact that I recently tried to haggle with a waitress to see if she would sell something hanging on the wall of her restaurant, and the fact that I’ve decided that going forward instead of using a pickup line when talking to girls I’m just going to try to buy something off of them to break the ice.  I have a disease.  I know.

With my mind squarely focused on collectibles now I couldn’t help but reminisce about the one and only thing that I had ever collected up to this point: baseball cards.  Like most kids I spent the majority of my childhood eating stale pieces of bubble gum while collecting, trading, and organizing them.  Some of the best memories of my formative years revolve around those tiny pieces of cardboard.

Unfortunately though the fanfare surrounding baseball cards has died down considerably in recent years.  Perhaps the internet and video games are to blame as young sports fans now have a plethora of options to occupy their time.  Or perhaps even fantasy sports are to blame.  Why live in the past and trade cards based on old statistics when you can trade the rights to players in real time.

So while I don’t think baseball cards will be making a comeback anytime soon I do think there’s a market out there for trading cards albeit with subject matter that’s more dynamic, appealing to a wider cross section of the public.  Subject matter that’s buzz worthy, viral, and attention grabbing.  Nowadays that means one thing: technology.

Just think about it.  Who are the most popular people in today’s society?  The trend setters?  The news makers?  The pop culture icons?  It’s not athletes.  Nor is it actors or rock stars.  Rather, it’s tech luminaries.  People like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Jack Dorsey, etc.  These are the people making headlines.  These are the people gracing the covers of magazines.  These are the people generating water cooler buzz.

Doesn’t it stand to reason then that these are the people that we should be celebrating?  The people that we should be promoting?  I think it does.  That’s why I want to propose that we create movers and shakers trading cards!  From the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to influential venture capitalists there’s no shortage of interesting people worth celebrating.  And just like baseball cards the value of these tech leader cards will rise and fall based on real life events.  Think Uber is going to take over the world?  Then you better trade for the Travis Kalanick rookie card!  Think Microsoft is done innovating?  Then you better sell your mint condition limited edition Satya Nadella card!

After extensive internet research (typing a few words into Google) I can find no evidence that such cards currently exist.  There was a set of internet stars over fifteen years ago and a few historical figure trading cards but nothing featuring contemporary stars.  But all that’s about to change!  Movers and Shakers cards are on the way!

Now where can I find thousands of pieces of stale bubble gum?

Surely I can’t be the only one who would be interested in collecting Movers and Shakers cards!!!!!!!

#546 – Apple Pay

Earlier this week Apple dominated the headlines when they finally unveiled their long awaited smart watch as well as a larger iPhone to rival Samsung’s signature product.  If you’re a fan of Apple’s phones you’re probably really excited about these products.  If you’re a fan of innovation though, like me, then you’re probably disappointed.  As far as real breakthroughs are concerned there really weren’t any.  There was no Apple TV.  No secret product that would be a real game changer.  Nothing that we hadn’t already seen before.  Nothing at all.

However, if you dig a little bit deeper there was one real revolutionary new product to emerge from the event: Apple Pay, a whole new way to pay for items quickly and easily using your phone instead of a credit card.  Or rather using your phone as a credit card.

Technically this really isn’t a revolutionary new product either as the technology has actually been around for several years.  What’s revolutionary though is the fact that Apple has already gotten a ton of retailers and credit card companies to drink their Kool-Aid, creating a unified system that could change the way we shop both in brick and mortar stores and online.

For example, when you pay for something in a physical store you won’t have to sign your name anymore after swiping your card.  Just tap your phone to the register and you’re done.  When it comes to online shopping you’ll save even more time as you won’t have to type in your credit card info or billing address.  Just one click and you’re done.

So how does it work?  According to CNN, “Apple Pay works by sending payment information via short-range radio waves. The message goes from a special chip inside the iPhone 6 to the register. It’s called NFC, short for Near Field Communication. That neat feature is already on lots of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices and works with Google Wallet, Softcard, PayPal and other services. An estimated 220,000 retail stores already have NFC devices at the register.”

To find out more check out this video below from CNET:

One of the other key benefits of this technology is that it’s secure since you’re using your fingerprint protected iPhone to execute the transactions.  Not only that but it’s also anonymous as Apple claims that they will have no idea what you’re buying, where you are buying it, or how much you’re spending.

On the surface this sounds like an intriguing service that probably will take off since it has Apple’s infrastructure and backing behind it.  There are however, numerous roadblocks that would need to be overcome before it truly becomes widespread.  Such as the fact that it’s not going to be compatible with all retailers right away and the fact that there is a lot of other competition in the mobile payments space.  In fact, all it would take to make Apple Pay a foot note in history is a revolutionary new way to pay that’s even easier.  Perhaps something that utilizes bio-metrics instead.

For now though it’s clear that Apple Pay is here to stay.  As for the Apple Watch?  Well, that remains to be seen.

Apple has created a whole new way to pay that could change the way we shop.

What do the hover board from Back to the Future, the mountains in Avatar, a Buddhist monkand Criss Angel have in common?  They all can levitate or hover or float!  In other words they’re all awesome.  Well, all of them except for Criss Angel.  Wouldn’t it be great though if more things levitated?  Books?  A fruit bowl?  A fish tank?  Your kitchen appliances?  Your cat?  Of course it would be!  The more the merrier!

Thankfully, that’s a future that may soon be a reality thanks to the amazing people at Crealev who specialize in making things levitate!  Now before we get too excited there are some limitations to this technology.  Namely the fact that the object in question has to remain stationary so we’re not quite at the point where we could make a real working hover board.  But we could make a really cool looking hover board replica! There’s also going to be some limitations when it comes to the size of the object that you want to levitate and what it is that you want to levitate.  Namely we’re not yet at the point where we can levitate humans in a completely safe and pain free way.

But just the fact that we can levitate anything, even if it is just a chess set, is still pretty cool to me.  However, coolness isn’t the only appeal of this technology.  As silly as it may seem levitating objects may actually serve a practical purpose such as with a floating computer mouse that could eliminate carpal tunnel syndrome.

So how does it work?

According to CNN, “These are all given flight by patented modules that induce magnetic levitation. The kit is comprised of two parts: a magnetic disc that can be integrated into the chosen object, and a base containing sensors that pin it in space. The latest and most heavy-duty module can support up to 10 kilograms to a height of nine centimeters…”

The more I think about it the more certain I am of my desire to eventually get something that levitates for my new apartment.  The coolness factor is just completely off the charts.  But what??!!  I honestly have no idea.  It would have to be something awesome.  Something thought provoking.  Something unique that no one else has.  Something epic.

Actually come to think of it.  I know just the thing…

A floating hover board replica would look pretty sweet in my new apartment!

One time when I was living in Florida the Chinese food that I had ordered arrived in just ten minutes.  That may not sound impressive but when you consider that the Chinese food place that I ordered from was more than a ten minute drive away it certainly is.  In fact, if you think about it, which I certainly have, it would be physically impossible for them to cook the food and deliver it in that length of time.  Even if they were psychic and had anticipated our order it would still be impossible to deliver the food that quickly.  The only logical explanation is that they were circling our block in a food truck on the off chance that we would call in an order.  But that sounds impractical.  To this day I have no idea how they did it.  It’s one of the World’s great unsolved mysteries.  Right up there with Stonehenge and what happened to Atlantis.

So it should come as no surprise that the Chinese are up to their super speedy tricks once again, announcing plans to create a Supersonic Submarine capable of traveling in excess of 6,000 mph.  This would make it possible to traverse from one side of the world to the other in less than two hours!

So how do they propose doing this?  By traveling at incredible speeds under water of course.

As the Telegraph explains:

“The South China Morning Post has reported that the country’s Harbin Institute of Technology is developing technology that could enable submarines to travel at rapid speeds by harnessing a process known as supercavitation.

First developed by the Soviet military, supercavitation envelopes a submerged vessel in an air bubble which reduces water drag and allows it to pick up speed. Soviet forces deployed torpedoes using this method, with one reaching a recorded speed of 230 miles per hour.

That is still far below the 3,600 miles per hour that sound travels underwater, but Chinese scientists are actively working to finesse the technology required for supercavitation and to create the conditions required for supersonic travel by submarine to become a reality. One of the team’s key advancements is the development of a man-made liquid membrane that would coat the vessel to control levels of friction and function to help it steer.”

In other words we’re talking about a mode of travel that could be like the Hyperloop on steroids.  A technology capable of getting us from Shanghai to San Francisco in roughly 100 minutes.  With speed like that you sure could deliver a lot of Chinese food in no time at all!

FOR SPANISH STORY ASIA-SUBMARINOS - APRIL 23, 2009 FILE PHOTO, POOL PHOTO

In the future it may be possible to get from Shanghai to San Francisco in under two hours!

 

Like most people you’ve probably been lounging around most of the day, lying on your couch or sitting in a bar, enjoying the first week of the NFL season.  Just another typical lazy Sunday.  But some people aren’t so lucky.  Some people don’t have the luxury of sitting down whenever they want.  Whether you’re a farmer or factory worker, office drone or security guard, you may not always have access to chairs.  And when you do, say during a busy commute, there may not be enough to go around.

Most people just suffer in silence putting up with the inevitable back pain and muscle related diseases because they have no other choice.  But what if they did have a choice?  What if they did have the ability to sit down whenever and wherever they wanted to?  And what if they could do it without any added hassle or inconvenience?  Wouldn’t that be great?

It sure would be and soon that is exactly what’s going to happen thanks to the Chairless Chair created by a new Swiss start up known as Noonee.  Essentially an exo-skelton that you strap to your back for added support the Chairless Chair will give you better posture and even increase your life expectancy!

As CEO Keith Gunura explained in an interview with CNN:

“Standing for hours on end causes a lot of distress to lower limbs, but most workers get very few breaks and chairs are rarely provided, because they take up too much space. So I thought that the best idea was to strap an unobtrusive chair directly to myself.”

He adds, “Imagine if you had one of these while you were riding on a crowded train: it would make for a much more comfortable commute. But we’re also thinking about people behind the counter in retail, farmers picking fruit and even surgeons in the operating room. A chair would be impractical, but the Chairless Chair would fit in nicely.”

It sure would.  In fact, I can see it fitting in nicely in a whole bevy of situations.  Let’s say for example that you’re going hiking.  After a few miles you may get tired and need a break.  What better way to take a break then to lean back on the chair you have strapped to your back!  Or let’s say you’re waiting on line at Disney World or in front of an Apple Store as you wait for the latest iPhone to come out.  What better way to wait it out than on your very own Chairless Chair!

Now you may be thinking to yourself that this sounds almost too good to be true.  That you must be trading convenience for functionality.  But that is not the case!  The Chairless Chair is light weight.  In fact, you’ll still be able to move freely and even run while wearing it!

Unfortunately, this product isn’t available yet and may not be for some time.  But when it does come out it’s sure to make a big difference in the lives of factory workers and farmers a like.

Chairless Chair: Sitting without a chair, production line worker

In the future you may have a chair at your disposal whenever you need it!

#542 – I’m Back!!!!

I should be studying for the Series 7.  Should be reading about options, variable annuities, mutual funds, municipal bonds, and the like.  But I can’t take it anymore!  It’s been 51 days since my last post.  51 days!!!!!  That’s nearly two months! Way too long to go without telling the world about the latest breakthroughs, inventions, and scientific discoveries.

Perhaps I could have waited longer if nothing major was happening.  If the only breakthroughs were slight improvements upon already existing products.  If the biggest news was about a nondescript app or a new feature for a smart phone.  If I had already covered everything.  But that’s hardly been the case.  Far from it!  For innovation waits for no man!

On a seemingly daily basis there is word about a new game changing technology that aims to upend society and revolutionize the way we do things. We’re talking about an energy source made from e.coli, a gel that stops bleeding, a human memory prosthetic, smog eating paints, and even the ability to send messages from one brain to another over vast distances.  And speaking of vast distances China even has plans for a supersonic submarine that could change the way we travel!  All that and I haven’t even mentioned chair-less chairs, levitating appliances, robotic swarms, artificial wombs, vaporized cuisine, and about a dozen other things that will truly blow your mind.

There’s such much to cover in fact that I honestly have no idea where I’m going to start!  But you don’t have to worry about that.  All you have to do is mentally prepare yourself for a Netflix style binge on all of the latest innovations.  But be forewarned.  You may not be able to handle everything I’m about to throw at you!

Technical analysis shows that the creation of new ideas is on the rise!

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