Author – Phyllis Schoenholz, UNL Extension Educator
Yesterday, at the Nebraska Broadband Conference futurist, author of “Jump the Curve” and keynote speaker Jack Uldrich told about the speed of change that is occurring in our world, and the development of technology is helping to speed up the change. Uldrich told the audience that we as humankind will continue to do the things we need to do, but technology will change the way we do things. He suggests we be alert to future changes and “Jump the Curve” to take advantage of opportunities that will be coming.
For example, we may have seen news stories about 3D printers that scan a picture and then actually “print” small items in three dimensions. In Minnesota, 3D printers are now making combine parts which may be part of the 2013 harvest in our county fields.
Next year Google Glass will be sold to the public. Glass looks like a small pair of glasses that you wear. In the upper right corner is a computer. When you want to know something you just ask the Glass to give you the information. “How many miles do I have to drive to get to Omaha?” And Glass will reply with the distance according to your GPS position.
A surgeon, who specializes in a particular field and sits at his desk in one city, can guide hospital staff in another city that is doing surgery. They all wear Google Glass and the surgeon at the desk sees exactly the same thing as the surgeon at the operating table as the surgery is underway.
Just this week we heard on TV about driver-less cars that could prevent accidents. Who would drive that? Just consider how helpful that would be to great-grandmother to allow her to live in her home longer. Some senior citizens must move and lose their independence because they can no longer drive. With the driverless car, the person can safely drive to get groceries, see the doctor or go to church. Today at the Hastings Youth Leadership Academy class, high school leaders see that people with impaired vision or paraplegics would be able to drive.
Robotics and sensors will be embedded into things. One example of sensors embedded is the newly constructed bridge that collapsed a few years ago killing people in their cars. The new bridge has 400 sensors that continually tell road engineers about the status and stresses the bridge is undergoing and can warn of future danger. “Jump the Curve” is predicting that there will be microscopic sensors embedded into a person’s blood stream. At the time of an impending heart attack, the sensor will call the person’s cell phone to alert the person of the heart condition so medical help can be sought.
The world is filled with challenges that can become opportunities for the people who are alert and “Jump the Curve”.