Technology That Redefines Our World

The Future of Transportation: Self-Driving Cars

The Future of Transportation: Self-Driving Cars

Mar 31, 2013

Google has a number of different projects in development right now, but clearly none is more exciting than the potential for self-driving cars to revolutionize how we live. While the technology is still a significant distance from being completed to the point of being safe for public use, Google has already test-driven some of these vehicles over a distance of hundreds of thousands of miles without an accident to this point. In fact, there is wide agreement that, in order for driverless cars to be commercially viable, they must be programmed to the point of being much less likely to be involved in a [car accident] than a car piloted by a human driver.

Still, a number of roadblocks remain before driverless cars can become a realistic possibility for the average user. For one, driverless cars have a hard time driving in inclement weather, particularly rain and snow, which can make roadways more difficult to analyze. Perhaps more importantly, driverless cars haven’t yet reached the point where they can react appropriately to unforeseeable conditions, such as police officers directing traffic when streetlights are out of service or cars stalled in the roadway. For these reasons, engineers at Google and other companies will continue to refine driverless car technology for some time yet.

In spite of these potential problems, I have to say that, from a personal standpoint, there are few technologies currently in the works that I’m aware of that make me more excited than this possibility. The combined benefits of reduced travel times, dramatically fewer auto accidents, and increased freedom for drivers (all benefits which have been credibly assessed to driverless car technology) all make this technology something I’m eagerly looking forward to trying out. Think about how great it would be to be able to read a book or eat breakfast during your commute instead of screaming at traffic and huffing at red lights. This is a future I can definitely get behind.

Medical Device to Prevent Heart Attack

Medical Device to Prevent Heart Attack

Mar 25, 2013

A new device currently being designed in Switzerland looks like it may hold enormous potential for the future of medical care. A research team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne is currently in the process of refining a tiny 14-millimeter robot instrument which would be implanted in an individual’s bloodstream and monitor a wide range of different elements of their blood composition. At present, the device is intended to measure the presence of up to five different types of compounds, though future improvements could increase that number.

The reason this appears so promising for the future of medical care is that one of the molecules which could be traced by the device, troponin, is released by the body several hours before a heart attack occurs. As soon as the device detects this molecule, it could send an alert to the individual’s smartphone, through Bluetooth capabilities, which would let them know that a heart attack is imminent.

There are a wide range of different reasons why this could prove amazingly effective in preventing fatalities from heart attacks. For one, it could allow individuals to get medical attention before the attack occurs, which could help to prevent most of the worst consequences of a cardiac event. Furthermore, it could help to prevent medical mistakes like doctors failing to diagnose a heart attack, which remains a serious problem today.

While the technology isn’t available to the public yet, one more feature stands out in showing its revolutionary potential: estimated costs for the device are less than one dollar.