In future, there is an interesting possibility of being able to type out a book directly from the brain into the computer. There are many challenges with respect to studying the activity of the human brain, including very weak signals that need to be captured, converted and acted upon.
The invention and improvement of Electroencephalography or EEG has made it possible to capture part of the signals and use them for some action. EEG systems are now being used for various purposes, one of them being to read the thoughts of bed-ridden patients and display them as text on a monitor for the comprehension of others. Brain gate technology owned by a company of the same name, has demonstrated that a brain implant system connected to robotic arms can perform actions for paralyzed humans.
Experts predict that in future we may be able to control machines through thought alone and make them perform certain actions — taking us somewhere close to telekinesis.
Dr Kalam had worked with one of his research scholars at Anna University to find an integrated solution using hardware, software and technology for near-normal functioning of mentally-challenged children. The research explored the possibility of implanting a bio chip in the brain to provide seamless data transfer between different parts of the brain. There is huge potential for research and business in this area.
Micro Power: Piezoelectric
The latest trend in low power charging is trickle charging or micro power. One of the oldest known areas under this is piezoelectricity. When certain materials which are crystal- and ceramic-based are subjected to force, electricity is produced. (PZT a.k.a lead zirconate titanate is one such common material.
This effect was put to use in 2008 in a Tokyo Railway Station. In 2003 at the Paris Marathon, ‘energy harvesting tiles’ were used to generate power to keep a laptop running for two days. There are even night clubs which use this material on dance floors to produce power.
A private company is already looking at providing continuous power to devices requiring low power, through this technology. As requirement of sustainable technology gains momentum, areas such as piezoelectricity will find wide patronage.
Humans have had a great impact on the environment for centuries. While trying to bring it down into an equation form, scientists from this school of thought ended up with EYEPAT. I= P X A X T where I stands for Impact, P stands for total population, A stands for income per person and T for environmental impact per dollar of income. There are many variations of this, and many scientists contest this as over-simplification. But this is one useful form to understand how humans impact the environment — in this case from the technology point of view. If the technology is high and not sustainable, it has an adverse impact. For e.g., experts say marine life is fast depleting due to the modern fishing fleets which capture more than required. As technologies become sustainable their value in the equation reduces, and consequently, the impact of humans on the environment also reduces.
There are multiple technologies in various stages of R&D all over the world, including algae bio fuel, zinc air batteries, organic solar cells, wind energy systems and many in the carbon capture and storage space. But every sustainable technology development and deployment comes with a cost which is larger than that of the existing technology. Solidia Cement which is available commercially is an example of sustainable technology. The cement not only has 70% reduced carbon footprint (as per the company) but also uses CO2 instead of water, for solidifying. There is a good trend developing towards such technologies, and it presents great opportunities.
INDIA MUST HAVE A POLICY ON DRONE USAGE
Technological capabilities of nations
Fourth industrial revolution
Rapid strides in car infotainment
The car infotainment industry has come a long way. About 15-20 years ago, choosing car entertainment used to be nothing short of a ritual. Some buyers even went to specialists with their brand-new cars, to furnish them with entertainment systems. The change of technology from compact discs to DVD to storage- based cards has changed entertainment systems in cars. Now it is also essential to combine the system with information regarding driving directions through maps, sensors showing various data including tyre pressure, fuel levels and even details of driver attention and whether s/he needs rest.
Long way to go in artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) has captured the imagination of everyone for a long time. In recent times, people have started using AI in some form or the other. Whether it is route-suggestion-by-map apps or voice-controlled mobile phones, there are elements of AI already in the market. Recent research estimates it as a $5-billion market by 2020, and there are estimates that 6 billion connected "things" will require AI support by 2018. The global industry is looking forward to intelligent manufacturing systems. But we have a long way to go in terms of pattern recognition and decision-making by the computer on its own. Scientists say that to mimic an action of a cockroach, acres of supercomputers may be required. So, we are way behind in making an AI-based factory floor. In the meantime, as the comfort of AI grows, we might need to study the impact — both positive and negative — it would have on our society.
scope of nanotechnology
Will Digital Currency become the new norm? The biggest news this month is demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in India to combat counterfeiting. We also saw that ATM and credit cards from India were compromised around global locations. This takes us back to the question of physical versus digital currencies. When the digital currency, Bitcoin was introduced, it attracted a large number of users while good number of people were sceptical. The BLOCKCHAIN system used by digital currencies may be looked at by nations for the distributed record keeping and encryption. This also presents business opportunities for mobile wallets and other forms of payment systems. In the days of demonetization, those who had mobile wallets managed better; however, not many in this country have internet and online bank accounts. The Government may push the people to manage their money digitally. Considering this in terms of career prospects, as eventually most of the money might be managed digitally, we might need professionals in the confluence of banking, finance, computer science and encryption technologies together.
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