Readers of this Blog may be forgiven for wondering what is the link between the above things. The simple answer is that after just over a week of vacation, your author has finally had a chance to go through his inbox (as well as a visit an insect farm) and was impressed to learn about developments in all these fields.
Few problems come bigger than how to live longer and better. Longevity science, a theme we first discussed in 2019 is seeing ever-growing sums of venture capital committed to it. It’s exciting then to learn that a brain-computer interface company is entering clinical trials for its implants in the US for the first time. Synchron announced recently that it had received permission from the Food and Drug Administration to test its product in human patients. Although the trial is billed just as an “early feasibility study”, it will be essential in proving that implants can work safely. The company plans to place a device smaller than a matchstick in the brain to help paralysed patients control digital gadgets (such as a computer cursor) via their thoughts. Although still early days, Synchron believes its products could be on the market within three to five years.
Another novel technology development might be available sooner, which can help the visually impaired. Many pedestrians (but those with sight problems in particular) often struggle with navigating routes to unknown destinations. It’s common either to concentrate too much on the directions and fail to pay immediate attention to the surroundings, or do the opposite and be lost. Do not fear, a new device pioneered by Honda can be integrated into user’s shoes that deploys haptic vibrations to guide them as they move. The device is linked to a smart watch/phone which can be pre-programmed with the destination. A beta version is set to launch soon with a full service available in 2022, costing around $20/month for a subscription.
If technology is, in general, all about making our lives easier, then surely there must be some appeal in a coffee machine that has a built-in voice assistant (provided courtesy of Amazon’s Alexa). Manufactured by Lavazza, its ‘A Modo Mio Voicy’, which will retail for ~$350, is the first coffee machine in the world which allows you to make a cup of coffee without touching the machine. Ask Alexa to make you a cappuccino or change the temperature of your drink, and the command will be executed.
While still on the topic of food and drink, your author found the time in the past week to visit Horizon Edible Insects, an urban farm in west London. Our June Blog post on bugs was one of our most commented upon ever, with an almost equal number of positive and negative responses to the notion of including insects in our diet. At Horizon, the case was made again for why bugs constitute a valuable source of protein and our group had the opportunity to prepare the likes of bug bruschetta and crispy chocolate mealworm cupcakes (pictured left and right respectively). Both dishes were highly tasty. We will be writing more on the future of food later this year.
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