Good morning everyone!
At the risk of being labeled a hopeless nerd (I can’t, unfortunately, qualify for geek because my technological level of expertise falls terribly short), I will confess that one of the magazines that I get on my Kindle is Technology Review, which is published by MIT every other month. It covers technology breakthroughs, and by technology they are not limiting themselves to computers and cell phones, but include breakthroughs in medicine, energy, genetics, automobiles, physics, chemistry and anything else you can think of. They also manage to present material in a way that a layperson can, for the most part, understand. One section deals with new inventions, which may not be ready for mass production yet, but at least are up and running with prototypes.
In steadily working my way through June’s publication, I came across two inventions, one bewildering, one encouraging.
We will start with bewildering first. A company called Withings, whose website is located at www.withings.com, has invented a scale with WiFi capability. That’s right, this scale will kindly, if you tell it to, post your weight, fat mass and body mass index on your Twitter or Facebook account for you. To be quite frank, the very last place I wish to share that kind of information about me is on Twitter or Facebook! Why you would even think that someone would want to do so is beyond me.
To be fair to Withings, the scale will, if you choose, discreetly post such information to more private places, like your smart phone or computer, where only you can see it; I can see some value in that. Even better, if my doctor’s office would purchase such a scale and link it to my records electronically, I could go to the doctor without ever having to see what my weight is! (I mean, face it folks, most of us know whether we need to lose weight or not; do we really wish to be constantly reminded every time we need to see the doctor for something like strep throat?)
The more encouraging invention is Google’s fleet of seven cars that it has equipped to be able to drive themselves. It consists of six Toyota Prius’s and one Audi TT. Some of you may recall that the self driving car is one of the inventions I am eagerly awaiting. ( See, Inventions I Eagerly Await.) Google has at least managed to create prototypes, although currently they are nowhere near ready for mass production and still require a driver to be able to override the computer system in case it gets confused. Still, Google has come a long way with these cars. They have equipped them with video cameras, radar, laser sensors (and of course, Google’s navigation system) so that the computer guiding the car will have a 360 degree view of the road, and be able to orient itself to the direction it is traveling and figure out where it wants to go. In over 140,000 miles of trials (I think – it may be more now), the cars have had only one accident – and that was when one of them was rear-ended by another car. In those 140,000 miles, they did require minimum driver intervention once or twice, but at least we are getting closer. I will watch the evolution of this invention closely so that as soon as they are available and affordable, I can own one.
There is, alas, no word out there regarding the driving vacuum cleaner. See, Differences Between Men and Women.
Have a great day everyone!