VHS, tape decks, wood paneling, oh my! The past conjures up warm memories that are greatly associated with chocolate-chip cookies and watching Saturday morning cartoons. These gadgets should be able to bring up a memory cloud a la Wile E. Coyote. So whoever thought that VHS tapes would just disappear into the night, they were sadly mistaken.
1. M21 Flat Panel TV: With the mixture of old-school flair and modern technology, this Brady Bunch-esque flat screen TV will be a highly coveted tech toy among the retro and TV fans alike. You could watch your favorite Brady Bunch episode, hint – the episode where Greg and Marcia were both running for class president, on a TV that highly resembles said time period.
2. Touch Screen Boom-box PC: Do you remember hanging out after school? All of your friends sitting around the boom-box after basketball or volleyball practice listening to the four at four. It was just the thing to do. The boom-box revolutionized a generation and now it has been integrated into the digital-age. This 80’s staple features an LCD screen and runs a Linux/Windows dual boot.
3. NES TV Remote Control: Growing up, the Nintendo system was the must-have system for every video-game enthusiast. This NES controller turned TV remote is a retro-gamers’ dream. It combined their two true loves, old-school video game systems and tech toys.
Christmas is literally right around the corner. And while it might be too late to get those gifts that the kids and grown-ups are longing for, it doesn’t hurt to think about that dream list. So here it is, ten gadgets that we would have screamed for. Maybe they’re underneath the tree waiting to be opened on Christmas morning or they’re still sitting in-store on the shelf, anyway it’s still fun to think of all the tech gadgets that we hope we’ll receive.
1. Flip Video Mino HD: The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without capturing memories of the season of giving. Instead of looking back on hazy footage of the kids opening their gifts, why not look back on high definition quality footage?
2. USB Mini Fridge: It’s a long day of sitting at your computer putting together the annual Christmas card. What better way to ease that neck cramp with nice cold can of soda? If the weather too cold for a soda, how bout a nice hot chocolate? With a USB mini fridge, you can keep your drink cold or warm to your specific liking without getting up to get more ice or putting your cup in the microwave.
3. Apple iPhone: We all know that iPod Touch is a tease to the iPhone. Sure, you can get the application that allows you to use the Touch as a phone, but you have to have WiFi and a microphone connected. It’s just not the same.
If you’ve never taken the time to watch the TV series Ghost in the Shell: The Standalone Complex, I suggest you do. Looking past the nearly nude and obviously impossibly-hot characters, you’ll find a near-future society that relies so much on technology to survive that everyone needs a mechanical implant of some sort. In fact, the only people not outfitted with some sort of body-enhancing component are the homeless. And while the cyborg cops race around Tokyo searching for criminals and hackers, you’re given a glimpse at a possible future that is both Utopian and Dystopian in nature.
On the one hand you have incredible technology that can allow even the most handicapped the ability to function at a high level in society. On the other hand it leaves just about everyone vulnerable to personal body hacking by the ill-intentioned. People get their memories wiped, are programmed to commit acts of violence, and if rescued are unable to restore their old lives and memories (ghost hacking). It’s a very yin-and-yang situation.
The reason I bring this up is that it was the first thing that sprang to mind upon reading a recent article detailing how pace-makers are now being hacked wirelessly.
Ever since buckyballs were discovered in 1986, an event that liberated nanotechnology from being an on-paper-only concept and graduated it into a hands-on (or at least electron microscope-on) practice, nanotechnology has been gaining momentum exponentially, despite aggressive anti-tech litigation.
In 2009 the EPA was sued by a collection of tech corporations for failing to enforce federal restrictions on the import and development of carbon nanotubes imposed one year earlier, and for completely failing to make any laws whatsoever regarding other similar carbon-based materials or those of other metals like titanium-dioxide and silver. Although the EPA was cleared of any wrong-doing, the following year three more laws were initiated, and several companies and research facilities were fined.
But then, in 2010, President Obama reversed the ban on stem cell research enacted by former president George W. Bush, stating, “The potential benefits greatly outweigh the moral dilemma. It is not for me to say whether God would have us utilize a dead fetus. But I do believe God would ask us to help to save the sick and dying, if there was any way we could.”
In his famous 2012 re-election speech that earned him the nickname Nanobama, he said:
If you’re worried how all that implantable technology you’ll have in your body is going to power itself, the answer may lie with Georgia Tech. “Georgia Tech researchers used zinc oxide wires that scratch against an electrode to generate a current, clearly showing potential for use within the constantly moving body.” The zinc wires rubbing had previously caused serious wear and tear in former experiments (not to mention the fact that zinc dissolves in water aka your body) so the team developed a more “robust” version of the device with added packaging film to protect the zinc wires.
Although the size in the photo is quite large, they believe it will be easy to scale the wires down to the much smaller size of three to five microns in diameter and 300 microns in length (the dot at the end of this period is about 615 microns wide). The only thing they’re waiting for is for production to begin and possibly some hefty investments I’m sure.
The development of body-powered energy devices has been on fire this last year. It seems that the future of devices are in the human body itself. Heat and movement can all be converted to energy to power all the little gadgets we get into our hands, from cellphones to body monitors. Having an implantable power generator makes the most sense in that batteries wouldn’t have to be replaced, and at least maintenance of such devices would be at a minimum.
How far are we from implantable self-powered devices? Some would say we’re almost there and I’d have to agree. The next few years may see implementation, maybe two years before we start seeing it in the consumer world.
Check out more on this device over at the Energy Roadmap
Researchers at the University of Illinois are working on developing a synthetic polymer which would hopefully self-heal scratches and cracks on items that get constant human and environmental exposure. "Applications range from automotive paints and marine varnishes to the thick, rubbery coatings on patio furniture and park benches." In other words, when someone dings your car door it can be good as new in just a few minutes or hours depending on the weather.
How does it work?
The self healing polymers are made up of two components: a catalyst and a healing agent. These chemicals are stuffed into small spheres about 100 microns in diameter and put onto the surface of an object. When scratched, the small spheres break open and mix, forming a healing agent that repair the surface. In tests with a steel beam where a scratch was delivered by a razor blade, the steel coated with the polymer was found to be fine while the one without rusted.
Self-healing products of course have a vast array of possibilities that are useful. Anything metal rusts, wood gets scratched or chipped, and hard drives can rack up some serious wear and tear if you're not careful. Self-healing coatings on products could extend the life of your goods for years longer than they should have lived. Combined with a superhydrophobic surface, our gadgets will look years from now just as good as the day you bought them.
Image: re-ality (Flickr, CC-Attribution)