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The other day I was watching an episode of Zach Morris Is Trash, the Funny of Die series that hilariously revisits Saved By The Bell’s Bayside High to prove just how horrible our hero truly was.

In this episode, Zach and Screech accidentally invent a zit cream in science class and use it to cure Charlie “Crater Face” Coburn and Homecoming Queen hopeful Kelly Kapowski as part of a get rich quick scheme.  At least that is until the side effects kick in, turning everyone’s face maroon and ruining Kelly’s chances of winning.

Zach Morris may be trash, but he also may have been on to something.  A cure for acne that could help clear up the skin of middle school and high school students around the world would be a real game-changer.  And now it seems as though it may be closing to actually happening, thanks to the potential for creating an acne vaccine.

According to I Fucking Love Science, “An international team of skin researchers have gotten one step closer to achieving a holy grail of dermatology: a vaccine against acne. In a series of experiments in mice and isolated human tissue, the scientists showed that the use of lab-created antibodies to target a toxin produced by the P. Acnes bacteria can prevent the inflammatory response that leads to the development of the self-esteem shattering lesions.”

This would be huge.  No more creams.  No more medications.  No more getting made fun of for something beyond your control.  Just think about the implications for this discovery.  From now on Crater Face Coburn would just be known as Charlie.  Kelly would rightfully be Homecoming Queen.  All would be right with the world.  Well, maybe not all.  Zach Morris would sadly still be trash.

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Is a vaccine for zits the Greatest Idea Ever? Crater Face Coburn thinks so!

#1,380 – Tonal

I hate going to the gym.  Hate the judgment.  The loud grunting from meat heads.  The look and feel of everything from free weights to elliptical machines.  As a futurist you would think that I would like being surrounded by workout machines.  That I would appreciate how far we’ve come from the days of doing dead lifts with bundles of hay.  But I’m not feeling it.  I’d much rather play basketball or go hiking when I need to get a workout in.

Living in Phoenix this is problematic.  In the summertime it’s too hot to go outside which means that one has no choice but to suck it up and go to the gym despite any prior reservations one may have had.  But I just can’t bring myself to do it.  Which means that every summer I get fat and go through seasonal depression.  A vicious cycle.

Fortunately, I may soon have another recourse.  A technologically enhanced workout solution that I’d actually want to use.  Over the years there have been other multi-purpose, use-at-home personal gyms before.  But there’s never been one as cool as Tonal.  Never been one capable of spotting you or adjusting your resistance on the fly.

As Cool Hunting puts it, “Tonal is the most intelligent workout partner we’ve seen on the market and leverages the power of digital weights to offer workouts never before possible. Sensors are tucked away nearly everywhere to be responsive to user efforts—upping the weight, analyzing reps for consistency or weak points (and when noticed, a digital spotter will take a bit of the weight off to make sure the rep is finished) and a near never-ending stream of varying, expert-led programs. And the sensor set is future-proof, so you can imagine ways the on-screen trainer can learn your behaviors and offer even better instruction over time.”

Adjustable workouts.  Built in personal trainer.  Hyper-personalized workouts.  It’s almost enough to get me to want to go to the gym again.  Almost.  But who knows.  Maybe I’ll change my mind again next summer.  Stranger things have happened.

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Is Tonal the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

The way something looks and feels matters.  And not just to designers and architects.  But to everyone.  It’s why wedding invitations are written in calligraphy and it’s why Apple obsesses over their packaging.  But at the same time I’m not usually one to pay that much attention to granular details like what font someone is using.

Granted, I do like some more than others.  I’m particularly partial to Calibri.  But I’m not going to stop reading someone’s blog if they are using Times New Roman instead.  A font is a font is a font.  You may have your preferences.  And some may fit certain situations better than others.  But at the end of the day it’s just semantics.  Just a simple matter of taste.

Or is it?  What if a font could be more than just a font?  What if it could change the world?  Well, soon there may be a font capable of doing just that, thanks to the aptly named Sans Forgetica, capable of upending our preconceived notions about what a font is or should be.  That’s because Sans Forgetica is more than just a simple typeface.  It’s a whole new way of learning.

As CNET puts it, “Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia have developed an entirely new font designed ‘using the principles of cognitive psychology’ to help you better remember your study notes. The font is a sans serif style typeface, with two unusual features: It slants slightly left, which is a rarely used design principle in typography, and it’s full of holes.

Those holes have a purpose though. They make Sans Forgetica harder to read, tricking your brain into using ‘deeper cognitive processing’ and promoting better memory retention. The psychological learning principle is known as ‘desirable difficulty’ and that obstruction — the holes — mean you dwell on each word just a little bit longer.”

The importance of Sans Forgetica in today’s day and age of speed reading, headline glancing, and information overload cannot be overstated.  Since we can’t force people to be more mindful, to live in the moment more, to take their time when reading, then we might as well do the next big thing.  Design an elegant solution to help people retain more information and build that solution right into the very words themselves.  An absolutely genius approach to education.  Even though I didn’t write this post using Sans Forgetica hopefully we won’t forget about it.  For implementing it across society could have profound effects.

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Is Sans Forgetica the Greatest Idea Ever?  Do you remember anything I just said?

#1,378 – HoverGlide

Last year, while hiking back from the famed Havasupai reservation in the Grand Canyon I almost died.  Dehydrated and physically exhausted after hiking 33 miles in two days, I was struggling to make it back out of the canyon over the final two miles of the trail.  If it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers who helped me out, I almost surely would have succumbed to the fatigue.  The 35 pound pack that I was lugging around the whole time my likely undoing.

Fortunately, the next generation of intrepid hikers making this magical journey will have an easier time traversing the treacherous terrain.  Thanks to a load bearing backpack that adjusts while you move, helping to lighten your load at all times.

According to Laughing Squid, “The HoverGlide is an ingenious backpack that constantly balances the interior load, making it seem lighter than it is. This balance is achieved with a sturdy rail upon which the contents float up or down, depending on how the wearer is moving.”

Originally designed for military use, the HoverGlide is a practical invention that millions of hikers, backpackers, and campers can put to good use.  A great introduction to what exoskeleton technology can mean for our future.

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Is HoverGlide the Greatest Idea Ever?

Screens are everywhere these days.  The combination of desktop computers at work, TVs and iPads at home, mobile phones while we’re on the go, all serving to inundate us in a constant deluge of information.  That’s one of the reasons why I like to go hiking so much.  It’s one of the only true places where you can go and unplug from society.  But others aren’t so lucky.  People who live in major cities for instance, are subjected to a near constant pixelated plight, on subway cars, in stores, in the backseat of cabs.  Their senses under constant attack from hype, sensationalism, and all sorts of obnoxious stimuli.  Thankfully there may soon be something that we can do about this.  A simple solution that was staring us in the face this whole time.

If you work in an office you may be familiar with our savior, the simple film that one might affix to their computer monitor to block someone else from viewing what’s on their screen.  As it turns out if you take this same material and place it in a standard pair of sunglasses it will serve to block out anything on a screen while enabling you to still see everything else.

As Wired explains, “[the] IRL Glasses, which launched on Kickstarter this week, block the wavelengths of light that comes from LED and LCD screens. Put them on and the TV in the sports bar seems to switch off; billboards blinking ahead seem to go blank.”

For anyone who has ever been subjected to watching Fox News in a doctor’s office waiting room this invention is a real game-changer.  Just throw on a pair and run out to the store to pick up some wings during the big game, fully confident that you won’t catch the score on one of their TV screens.  Or use it while walking down the street to avoid getting bombarded with adverts.

One can easily imagine the peace and serenity these glasses would deliver.  Putting a pair on would almost be like stepping into a time machine.  Magically giving you the ability to see the world as it was, not as it is.  To revert back to a simpler time where imaginations roamed wild.  A time that we would all be well served to revisit on our own as much as possible.  And now, thanks to the IRL glasses, we can.

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Are the IRL Glasses the Greatest Idea Ever?

A quick look at everything that caught my eye over the last week:

Japan Lands Rover on Asteroid

Now, this isn’t the first time that humans have visited an asteroid.  NASA landed a probe on Eros back in 2001.  But this is the first time that a move-able robot has been deployed on one, allowing Japan to explore the surface of a flying rock in unprecedented fashion.

As Wired UK explains, “As you read this, the rovers are starting to explore and take pictures of the surface of the asteroid. To do so they will jump up to 15m (49ft) and stay off the surface for as long as 15 minutes.”

Hopefully, the footage that they send back will help inspire the next generation of astronauts while helping to grow our understanding of how asteroids and the solar system were formed.

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Exposome

You may have heard of the microbiome, all of the bacteria we carry around in our guts.  But apparently we also have an exposome, a swam of chemicals, bacteria, fungi, and other particulates that reside in our immediate vicinity, our own personal microbial force field.  Apparently, they never got the message about not invading your personal space.

Read more at: https://www.sciencealert.com/you-are-surrounded-teeming-swarm-microbes-chemicals-everywhere-exposome-health

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Gut Feelings

According to Science Alert, “Scientists now believe that a surprising array of conditions, including appetite disorders, obesity, arthritis, and depression, may get their start in the gut. But it hasn’t been clear how messages in this so-called ‘second brain’ spread from our stomachs to our cerebrum.”

Researchers may now have an idea how that process works and as it turns out there may be some truth to the idea of a gut feeling.  In fact, your gut and the way that it communicates with the brain may even be a sixth sense of sorts.

Read more at: https://www.sciencealert.com/we-might-have-just-discovered-the-missing-link-between-the-brain-and-gut

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New Paint 

A new breakthrough in materials science could revolutionize the way we live, doing away with air conditioning in favor of paint!

According to We Forum, “researchers from Columbia University have devised an alternative to air conditioning that could keep your home cool without sending your power bill sky high. It’s a white polymer that reflects more than 96 percent of sunlight, and it comes in a dye-able, paint-like form, meaning we could use it to coat the sides and roofs of our homes to keep them cooler when the Sun is at its strongest.”

Image result for columbia university paint and air conditioning

Drone Canopy

Drone technology hasn’t really taken off yet (pun intended) but all that may be about to change thanks to a novel approach that aims to turn drones into portable canopies, capable of springing into action to provide people with shade during concerts and sporting events.

As New Atlas reports, “the algorithm can enable the drones to respond to the changing orientation of the Sun and rearrange the panels to maintain a shaded area of the same size and shape throughout the day. Another algorithm can enable it to detect occupants beneath it, adding, removing and shifting panels to keep growing crowds cool.”

With advances in drone technology continuing this concept no longer seems so far-fetched.  So long as the drones are silent, capable of staying in the air for long periods of time, unhackable, and pose no risk to the people under them there’s nothing to worry about.  Up until then that was a lot to ask.  But in the near future it won’t be.

In fact, we could be entering an era where novel new uses for drones spring up all the time.  Such as in construction projects where they can be used to move objects in lieu of using cranes or where they can be turned into makeshift scaffolding or even walkable bridges or climbable ladders.

Proving once again that drones are cut out for more than just delivering your pizza and taking selfies.

The Cyber Physical Macro Materials project from above

Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

Expecting a new addition to your family?  Then you can likely expect to get some time off from work.  Two to three months for new mothers.  A few weeks for new fathers.  But what if your new bundle of joy is a fur baby and not a baby baby?  What then?  How much time could you expect to get off?  In all likelihood, none.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  A big fat zero.  But that’s not right.  New puppies need just as much time to adjust to their new surroundings and new parents as a newborn baby would.

To some, furternity leave may sound like a ridiculous perk to offer employees but in today’s hyper-competitive landscape it makes sense.  After all, if you want to attract and keep top talent you may need to go beyond just offering competitive pay and standard benefits.  All things being equal, the company that has a foosball table in the lobby, keeps the office stocked with free snacks, and offers furternity leave may be the company that wins out.  And the trend appears to be catching on.

According to the New York Times, “[a] few companies appear to have gone far beyond Take Your Dog to Work Day. An Italian company allowed a woman last year to take paid time off when her dog became sick. And employees at mParticle, a data company in New York, are offered ‘paw-ternity leave’— two weeks of paid time off for those who adopt a rescue dog…”

Furternity leave provides other logistical benefits as well aside from merely just providing time off for people to bond with their new pets.  Such as giving people time to train their dogs, take them to the vet to get their shots, and ensure that they are getting along with any other pets that may already reside in the home.  After all, the last thing that any new pet owner wants is a Turner and Hooch like situation where you come home to a house that looks like a war zone, couches chewed up, shoes destroyed, family heirlooms strewn about the floor.  If furternity leave can prevent such scenarios from unfolding then we should be all for it.

In fact, maybe we should even take it a step further and allow pet owners more time off, period.  Early dismissals so that they can get home at a reasonable time and walk their poor dogs who have been holding it in since early in the morning.  The ability to work from home several days a week.  Extra vacation days to accommodate all of their normal vacation plans plus a few extra dog-centric staycation days.

A little bit extreme?  Maybe?  But just think about how many more orphaned dogs would get adopted if there were real tangible workplace benefits to doing so.  Just think about how much happier people would be and therefore by extension how much better of an employee they would be if they had a pet in their lives.  Viewed through that lens furternity leave wouldn’t just benefit new pet owners or their dogs.  It would benefit everyone.  And that’s a good thing.

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Is Furternity leave the Greatest Idea Ever?