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.

Nov 282014

The first 3D printed object has been made in space. The 3D printer was built courtesy of a startup called Made In Space. Isn’t that ironic, don’t you think? A little too ironic.

According to Forbes, “”The purpose of the 3D printer is to experiment with the possibility of manufacturing crucial replacement parts on the station, foregoing the expense of shipping them via rocket …”

“… The printer was delivered to the space station in September via a Space X Dragon capsule. It was installed on the station on November 17, and the first in a series of calibration prints was made. More calibration prints followed over the next few days. On Tuesday, November 25, the first actual part was manufactured by the 3D-printer – a faceplate for a printhead extruder on the printer itself.”

So, now that the International Space Station is headed down the road towards manufacturing its own replacement parts, what is next for 3D printing? Glad you asked. :)

The printing of pure graphene nanostructures will open up a whole world of possibilities in this quickly evolving industry.





Oct 172014

Heroin addiction is a problem that affects many people around the world. Turning a person addicted to heroin away from that condition is very difficult due to the combination of physical and mental effects that are present.

However, researchers at the University of Houston are turning towards a method that is only now possible thanks to advancing technology, virtual reality. This form of technology has been around for over a decade, but only in a relatively primitive form. Today, virtual reality has progressed considerably and is now being used to create realistic worlds for the addicts to help them fight their addiction.

How Virtual Reality Works

Basically, the patient puts on the virtual reality headset which presents them with strong images of a world that is familiar to them. There is even the right odors added to the experience to make it as realistic as possible. The idea is to actually trigger the cravings that they are feeling when in this virtual world so that they can be properly measured and handled.

Many of the familiar settings not only work for heroin addicts, but those addicted to marijuana and alcohol as well. The headset presents images of partying and other settings that are designed to set off the cravings.

Once in that situation, the patient learns to recognize what it is and how it triggers the cravings. Therefore, the result is that patients can understand how to remove themselves from that setting. The key is the combination of visuals and smells that garner the response. However, the setting itself is an artificial one that allows a person to react and remove themselves from it. Such training is geared to allow addicts to do the same when facing a similar real-life situation.

Does it Work?

The program itself is quite realistic and based on the experiences of actual heroin users down to the mimicking of injecting the needle into their vein. What helps make this virtual reality really seem real is the scents that are placed such as the smell of marijuana for example. However, there are different scents for different virtual rooms to help make the experience even more real.

Overall, the effect has been noticeable although not all encompassing. With addicts, the ability to recognize situations of temptation in the virtual reality world has helped them to overcome real life situations. However, flaws in the program such as not having the right scent or image means that the addict will not be able to effectively role play the situation.

The early studies have not been completed, so there is no hard data yet to see if this program really works. However, a previous study with those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2012 showed that 15 out of 20 patients no longer met the criteria for suffering from PTSD and managed to maintain that status a full three months later which is quite remarkable.

Whether those who are addicted to heroin, marijuana or alcohol will enjoy a 75% recovery rate remains to be seen. However, given the promise of the previous study there is room to hope.


Sep 292014

The latest trend in technology features a wearable device that wirelessly connects to your mobile device to utilize features like incoming calls, texts, social media updates and more. The best part about it? It also tells the time. The smart watch is the newest gadget for tech-connected consumers on the go.

There are a variety of companies offering smart watches, and as the technology advances, developers are creating new apps that make the device even more functional. In addition to connecting to your mobile phone, smart watches can run health and fitness apps, music or camera functions, and navigational apps.

With startup companies like Pebble and MegaWatch making headway in the smart watch market, the big companies have decided to jump on board as well. Samsung, LG, Qualcomm and Sony all manufacture smartwatches. Apple has been the most recent company to announce plans for the development of a smart watch, which will become available in early 2015.

Consumer Reports ranked the Samsung Gear 2 as one of the most versatile smart watches on the market. With a price tag of around $300, this watch is compatible with most Samsung devices that operate on Android 4.3 or higher. Despite being compatible with these devices, all of Samsung’s line of smart watches run Tizen OS, not Android.

The Gear 2 has a bright color touch screen, and a built in microphone and speaker, perfect for making phone calls, James Bond style. The watch even has a 2 megapixel camera, which unlike other watches is built into the face of the watch as opposed to the band. This watch can control a TV, play music, or keep track of your heart rate. If the price is a bit hefty, Samsung offers two other second generation smart watches: The Gear 2 Neo, a scaled down version of the Gear 2, and the Gear Fit, which focuses on activity tracking.

If you’re more of a traditionalist, the Martian Passport smart watch incorporates the look of an analog watch with the functionality of a smart watch. The Passport is available for around $300 and boasts a battery life of one week on standby (2 hours of talk time). With three different styles to choose from, you can find the watch that fits your fashion choices. While the passport is versatile in working with both Android and Apple devices, the analog display is not touch screen, requiring buttons for navigation. However, because of the analog display, you can see the time whether you are indoors or out, or in bright sunlight.

The Pebble Watch has been on the market for a little while, and the company has recently updated the style with the new Pebble Steel. This watch is comprised of stainless steel and features a steel or black finish on a leather or metal band. While the device is a very basic smart watch, with a monochrome display that using button navigation, Consumer Reports found the display to be the most readable in bright sunlight.

The future of smartwatches? This is only the beginning folks, so as a “Smart Watchdog” group will be brining you more info for years to come.


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