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Archive: futurist

January 29th, 2010 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy | Comments Off

Right on Economic Growth

Now and then it is nice, as a futurist, to see that something you forecast and expected is coming to fruition, especially when what you said ran counter to a lot of common wisdom. Two economic announcements today confirm what I was saying about Microsoft in the middle of last year, and about the U.S. economy in, for example, my Outloook 2010.

First, it seemed clear to me that even as Microsoft stock was sluggish over the past year, they had three initiatives poised to return them to growth and increased profitability. These initiatives include touch computing, gesture based interactivity, and of course Windows 7. It was obvious that Windows shops around the world that had skipped over Windows Vista would very likely shift to Windows 7 as it proved itself. They cannot wait any longer. With the results that Microsoft reported today, we can see this happening, and the 2010 story will be bigger. I’ve heard insiders at a very large multinational, still operating with XP, say that the plan is to shift to Windows 7 beginning in the second half of 2010. Huge.

As for the U.S. economy, in my speech to the 125th anniversary of a Chamber of Commerce in November 2009 I turned some heads by saying that GDP growth in the 4th quarter would surprise people by coming in around 6%, and that this would bode well, eventually, for growth in employment in 2010. So far so good as 4th quarter GDP growth was the best in six years.

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January 20th, 2010 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Innovation | 2 Comments

Future of Health Care Reform in U.S. Now

The standard chorus today, following a win by Senator Elect Brown in Massachusetts, is that health care reform is either dead, or must be substantially revised to be passed into law.

I don’t know that it is dead, but it is on life support.

Somehow, in the very long process of developing the current legislation, the simple messages of improving access, covering everyone, and controlling costs, got lost.

Now, what is the way forward if you think that for the U.S. to be #1 in the world in health care spending but #37 in quality, with tens of millions uncovered, is not a good thing?

I think, and admit I missed this early on, that the simple solution would be best. This might be a piece-meal approach, or even better it could be this from Ezra Klein at the Washington Post:

“Medicare buy-in between 50 and 65. Medicaid expands up to 200 percent of poverty with the federal government funding the whole of the expansion. Revenue comes from a surtax on the wealthy.

And that’s it. No cost controls. No delivery-system reforms. Nothing that makes the bill long or complex or unfamiliar…”

Not likely to happen, but it would be a wise option.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, author, consultant, blogger, internet video host and Founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.

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January 13th, 2010 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Space | 1 Comment

Our Future In Space

I grew up in space.

Not literally, obviously, but in my sense of future possibilities. When Colliers and other magazines in the 1950′s featured the Von Braun space station on their covers – the great wheel in space that became an iconic image – this locked in for me a life-long interest in space exploration. For a short time in the 1960′s I imagined being an astronaut until it was clear I was too tall for that, not to mention the rigor of qualifying. Later, as explained in the story of Futurist.com my original futurist mentor came from the Apollo program.

So, you might understand why I get frustrated with the agonizingly slow expansion into space. Now my colleague, Brenda Cooper, advises me that when looked at in galactic time, progressing from the Wright Brothers to missions to planets and human missions in orbit and for a while to the moon, all in 107 years, is pretty impressive and probably about fast enough. True.

Still, when I read that over and over again this and other nations are unsure, at the national government level, how much to invest I wonder how we can miss seeing the opportunity, or even the necessity of becoming a space-faring civilization (according to Stephen Hawking). There will never be lack of earth-bound problems to distract us, but at the same time there is never a lack of the relatively small amounts of money required to, for example, send people to Mars or even to begin terraforming.

My hope is that we see the space imperative more clearly in years to come.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.

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November 5th, 2009 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Environment & Energy | Comments Off

Hydrovolts offers electricity of the future

You have a chance to vote for the Inc.com new entrepreneur of the year in the next 24 hours, and here is why I suggest you vote for a Seattle, Washington based company called Hydrovolts.

Last week co-founders Chris Leyerle, COO, and Burt Hamner, President, sat down for an hour with me, and explained their technology and business plan – I had seen them earlier at entrepreneur events this year.

The idea is simple, elegant. The world is laced with irrigation canals, both ancient and modern. Many are completely lined with concrete or stone. Many have access roads and power lines along them, in part to service pumps. Into these canals, not to mention free flowing streams, Hydrovolts proposes to drop rotating drums using what they call a “flip-wing” design. The rotation will spin magnets over a coil, and thus you have a simple electric generator.

You can see tests of the prototypes at the Hydrovolts YouTube channel.

This is such a good idea, it is surprising that it has not been done. It is simpler and less expensive than tidal power, or low-head hydro, and by targeting canal systems first, Hydrovolts avoids most of the environmental issues faced when using free flowing streams (though ultimately there is more capacity in streams and rivers). There are good prospects for development partners, for example the thousands of public and private irrigation districts in the U.S. alone.

Most surprising to me was the electricity potential – Hydrovolts drum generator, suspended approximately 10 per mile of canal or stream could generate 5-10 kilowatts each, (an average home uses about 1.5 a day), and when you then imagine canals many miles long, the total capacity is quite large. The potential energy increases as the stream speed increases, and even greater efficiencies can be gained by placing the flip-wing generators in the falling water of low-head spillways typically of many canal systems.

Hydrovolts was selected last week at the Pacific Northwest Cleantech Open as one of three finalists to be sent to compete for the national prize.

Check out Hydrovolts, and go to Inc.com to vote for them as new entrepreneur of the year.

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