Future:

Would High-Tech 18-Wheelers Be Safer?

Accidents that involve 18-wheelers have turned up in the news increasingly. Some surveys suggest there are roughly two semi-truck accidents across the nation per hour each day.

Of course, this includes lesser incidents with minor damage that aren’t widely reported, but it’s a large number of accidents that involve costly damage, and sometimes cost lives.

There haven’t been major changes in semi-truck technology in many years, and 18-wheeler mechanical failure is a leading cause of accidents in the US. Perhaps this is a sign that it’s time to rethink the design of semi trucks altogether. This has already been under consideration for several years, most notably by German designer Luigi Colani.

The 18-wheeler of the future

The original reason for Colani’s futuristic truck design was to reduce the amount of gas needed to run a big rig. Gas prices have been in violent flux, and sometimes make it too expensive to justify driving a huge, gas-guzzling vehicle.

Colani’s design proposal changed the engine to reduce fuel consumption by 30%, and reconfigured the frame so it’s much smoother and more aerodynamic. Over the years, he continued to refine the idea, and came up with lighter materials and a new method of driving that incorporated a joystick rather than a steering wheel.

The current design uses 50% less fuel than semis currently on the road, but for the moment it’s unfortunately not cost-effective. A price tag of $1 million to produce a single vehicle is a little too pricey.

Perhaps one day, manufacturers will come up with ways to reduce this production cost. One thing that Colani never mentioned about was any safety improvement, to parallel what has been added to non-commercial vehicles in recent years.

Safety feature technology

A hot new trend in modern cars is a lengthy list of vehicle safety measures. Some of these features include:

- Forward collision avoidance

- Responsive automatic brakes

- Back-up cameras

- Parking assistance

- Back-up warning sensors

These are among the most popular features that regularly turn up as options in private vehicles. Perhaps some of these same measures will be added to semi trucks.

Semis are very heavy vehicles that take a longer time to slow down than cars do. If a semi driver has slow reactions, he or she only adds to the braking time necessary to avoid a terrible accident.

With autonomous brakes, a truck can begin to slow down at the first sign of danger, and potentially save lives.

Keeping semi drivers alert

Another major factor in accidents involving semi trucks is drowsy drivers. Big rigs typically move freight over long distances, and they can be on the road for incredibly long periods of time.

If a driver begins to “nod off” after a long stretch of driving, an accident is more likely to occur. Technology is starting to be implemented to keep drivers alert on the road. A few examples could be sensors that send out an audible alert if the driver’s hands leave the wheel for more than a few seconds, or if the vehicle begins to drift.

Technology of this variety has already been developed in certain areas, and it may not be long before it can be used to keep big-rig drivers and the people around them safer on the road.

Future:

3 Tech Companies that Changed the World Before Going Bankrupt

Tech

The tech environment that has been growing around us for a few decades isn’t fair. It often rewards the innovators more than the creators and those who put in the effort to launch a new product or start a new segment are often left in the cold. Such is the case with the three tech companies below who changed the world forever despite not being with us at this time thanks to financial challenges.

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last update: October 31, 2014

Future:

Mobile Advancements Driving the Current Personal Technology Disruptions

iCow

What do eye glasses, stoves, and cows have to do with our future? They’re all a part of the rise of “personal technology” that is currently disrupting the way many people live their lives. For the most part, it’s not a bad disruption (unless you’re in an industry that relies on old technology). It’s just a change that is being enhanced by the exponential increase in scientific and technological knowledge being applied to the gadgets we own and the emerging gadgets of tomorrow.

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Future:

The Home of the Future According to Microsoft

Home of the Future

Microsoft has had challenges over the last few years being considered a futurist company. Their roots have definitely been bold and envisioned things that others could not, but lately the Star Trek visions of the future have been left to other tech companies. The company took a step in the right direction with the video below.

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Future:

Google Search By Image Can Change the World

Amphibious Ice Cream Truck

We have phones, tablets, pens, glasses, hats, and yes, cameras that can take pictures. As a result the growth in the number of images is up exponentially from just a few years ago.

What does this mean for the future? One concept is that everything will be traceable. In other words, you should be able to identify items, locate sources, and even find missing people through a consolidated database that could revolutionize everything.

That database is Google.

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Ray Kurzweil: Highly Sophisticated Crackpot or Scientific Visionary?

Ray Kurzweil Transcendent Man

If you listen to Ray Kurzweil, you’ll believe that we’ll soon get to the point that we can live hundreds of years, power the world completely with solar energy, have computers in our brains and possibly raise the dead… and that’s just what he’s been talking about in the last few weeks. His history as a futurist spans decades and includes predictions that most would agree have become a reality today.

Is he way off base, betting on headline-grabbing predictions in hopes of promoting his documentary, or is he looking at the future with open eyes and simply extrapolating scientific and technological advancements through its trending progression?

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Future:

Augmented Reality Blurs Lines between Virtual and Real Life

Imagine being on vacation in an unfamiliar city. You’re hungry and looking around for something to eat. The choices are overwhelming. How do you know which restaurants are good? You don’t want to waste your money or your hunger on something inferior, right?

Now imagine putting on your sunglasses and looking at a restaurant. Except now you don’t just see a restaurant. You see customer reviews overlaying the actual building. Suddenly your decision isn’t so difficult after all.

So where can you get these glasses? Well you can’t… yet. But you can download an app from somewhere like Yelp and use your cell phone camera in the same way. And it’s not even that new of a technology. It’s been around for quite a while.

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