Kevin Lepton

I am the writer, editor and publisher behind this future technology blog and I predict you will keep reading to see what is coming right around that metaphorical corner.

Pokémon GO AR Game Could Start Social & Environmental Revolution

 Augmented Reality  Comments Off on Pokémon GO AR Game Could Start Social & Environmental Revolution
Aug 042016


Since the release of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go weeks ago, it has received positive feedback for its surprising positive effects on mental and physical health. Apart from getting kids, who are hospitalized, to engage in social and physical activities, the game also motivates people to explore their cities and consequently boost local tourism as tour agencies and independent tour guides take advantage of the chance to conduct Pokemon Go city tours.

Although this is basically an AR game that literally turns people into digital zombies as they walk the streets looking for Pokemon characters, this phenomenon has also encouraged people to socialize more not only in meetings or conventions held in different states but also in parks in New York City and Georgetown, to name a few.

Social Awareness and Environmental Impact

But if one will look beyond just the mental and physical effects of the game, there is a lot of potential seen in Pokemon Go that gives it environmental and social relevance. A perfect example is the idea of an animal shelter in Indiana. The Muncie Animal Shelter came up with the idea of letting Pokemon GO players walk dogs which are also up for adoption while enjoying the location-dependent AR game. Not only was the invitation well-received, with more than 250 volunteers showing up at the shelter but also according to Melissa Blair, the assistant superintendent at the animal shelter, four dogs were adopted after the experience, including a black Labrador which found a new family. Labeled “Pokemon Dogs”, this brilliant idea became international news.

Other Possible Scenarios

Pokemon GO is a potential medium to spread environmental and social awareness to people in a global scale, given its popularity among digital gamers of all ages. There is no doubt that one of the most fascinating features of this game is the augmented reality platform. However, what makes it more unique and attention-grabbing is its location dependence. This very same popular aspect of the game is can motivate gamers to contribute to the upkeep of Mother Earth.

Players of Pokemon GO spend hours and even weeks looking for Pokemon characters and hatching eggs without getting bored. As opposed to other augmented reality games that require players to hover their devices on a piece of paper or a specific product packaging for a visual sequence to be enjoyed, Pokemon Go uses the real surroundings the players are in. This platform allows players to walk for miles around the cities they live in and takes them to places they seldom have the chance to visit at any given day. Having said that, the game can be instrumental to reaching places like illegal trash dumping sites, crime locations and other important places that are overlooked and in need of attention from authorities.

In the future, perhaps, Pokemon GO manufacturers will add features that will enable players to contact government agencies responsible for repairs and maintenance to ensure public safety like covering open manholes or fixing damaged slabs. Or Pokemon GO players will be able to take images of emergency situations and send them to specific government agencies by just pressing a button.

With all these possibilities, the AR game experience will someday be taken to yet another level, one that has significance not only in terms of technological advancement but also in environmental and social awareness.




Mood Modulation Technology in the Future

 Future Medical Technology  Comments Off on Mood Modulation Technology in the Future
Jul 052016

Mental states that only used to be altered for the better by drugs and surgery can now be enhanced with the use of technology. With an alternative method to change brain activity with the application of non-invasive brain stimulation, technology might become a significant factor in balancing activity in the brain of a depressed patient.

This technique works by using electrical or magnetic energy to stimulate the left and right hemispheres of the brain in patients diagnosed with depression. Moreover, this method is believed to be both effective and safe without the manifestation of side effects that can be experienced in treatments associated with drugs. Apart from these appealing qualities, this technology is also relatively cheaper than other existing treatments.

The technology known as transcranial direct current stimulation has been used on sixty-six early adult women who were not diagnosed with clinical depression. Results showed that this technique showed improvements in the moods or at least 64.7% of the total scores in the experiment manifested a reduction of negative mood states.

Today, questions have been raised if these types of techniques be applicable in what is known as “cosmetic mood enhancement. Since it can be readily accessible to a great number of people and is low in cost, there are several products available in the market that boast of the use of this technology. Also, there are already private clinics that offer a course in neurofeedback training.

Meanwhile, there is also some evidence that the effects of these alternative techniques are not far behind the effect of placebo and that efficacy is slim. But despite these issues, there are still people who are willing to try treatments like these even if they have not been proven to be effective.

Questions about Mood Modulation Technology

There have also been skepticisms about these cosmetic mood enhancements. Questions have been raised on how much the people are informed of the possible adverse effects of mood modulation technology and if the benefits really outweigh the drawbacks. Concerns over the possible dependence of an individual on the technique of brain stimulation just as a person becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol have been presented. Some also ask about the accountability of private clinics and manufacturers of mood enhancement products as well as their commitment to monitor potential harm and informing the public. The controversy on only the people with money can take advantage of this technology has also been mentioned.

Available Clinical Depression Treatments

A person suffering from depression can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy which is part of a pathway of care. In some instances, these therapies will also be combined with drug treatments. Patients will be given serotonin re-uptake inhibitors to balance chemicals in the brain. If these methods prove to be ineffective, patients will be given other drugs with side effects. These side effects are what lead experts to consider alternative treatments such as the use of technology.

Conversely, deep brain stimulation is also done to help patients suffering from mood disorders. This involves drilling a hole into a patient’s skull to give way to fine electrodes that will work on the targeted area of the patient’s brain. Although this has been used in some patients with Parkinson’s disease, there are also risks involved.

Having said that, making use of technology as a better option to enhance the mood of patients and non-clinically depressed people is likely to happen in the near future. If this happens, more people will benefit from technological advancements.




4 Major Paradigm Shifts Will Shape Future Technology

 Future Technology  Comments Off on 4 Major Paradigm Shifts Will Shape Future Technology
Jun 092016

For the past decades, we can see technology following a predictable path, where integrated circuits chips are becoming advanced to create smaller, but more power, devices and manual processes have been automated, allowing for increased efficiency and productivity. But today, this trend is anticipated to most likely change in the near future, where there is expected an extreme disruption in technology. As information technology would decrease in phase, second-order technologies—robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc—will become the center of attention, automating routine cognitive work. During this time, there will occur four major paradigm shifts that all of us should prepare for.

First, there will be a shift from chips to the system. While the Moore’s Law has helped power up the Digital Revolution to a level where computers have become more powerful and functional, while becoming cheaper, it is said to be nearing its end. There would be too many transistors to squeeze into a chip, causing them to malfunction or take too long for them to communicate with each other, also known as the von Neumann bottleneck. Well, this can be solved by shifting from the chip to the system, which is particularly called “3D stacking” that combines chips into a single three-dimensional chip. Though this can be difficult, as we have to devise new chip designs entirely, it would increase speeds at significant levels to sustain progress.

The second one is a shift from applications to architectures. Innovations, such as office document processors and graphics creation apps, have engendered the widespread use of computers, with the internet allowing for emails, e-commerce and, then, mobile computing. Basically, applications are running today’s world. So far, these programs that are taking place on devices using central processing units are working well enough, but for more advanced functionalities that we want computers to do, like those of self-driving vehicles, the von Neumann bottleneck also causes some limitation for progress. So, the solution would be to move from developing new apps to developing new architectures that have the capacity to handle these apps better. Well, there are already some technologies that can help us reach this level, such as neuromorphic chips, quantum computers and the new field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chips.

As for the third major paradigm shift, it is from products to platforms. While great businesses in the past have made their way to prominence by creating a single specific product, companies today achieve success by making money out of platforms. Great examples are the iPhones using the Apple App Store, Android devices using the Google Playstore and Amazon earning most of its profit from using third-party sellers. As you can see, platforms are very important as they allow people to access technological and business ecosystems, which we will see more in the future.

Lastly, there will be a shift from sustained periods of growth to shorter ones. According to economist Robert Gordon, while earlier innovations like the internal combustion engine and electricity have had broad implications, those of digital technology have been narrow. There are certain indications that future growth will be very different than the past.

In the coming age of disruption, it is very important to know more about these major paradigm shifts and to adapt to them to keep your ventures afloat and stay competitive.