Archive: futurist.com

April 21st, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Cities, Ecosystems, Environment & Energy, Innovation | No Comments

The Future of Roadways is Solar, and Brilliant

We’ve been tracking the progress of Scott and Julie Brusaw of Sandpoint Idaho and their federally supported project to build a prototype for a smart highway that generates power and pays for itself. This is Solar Roadways. We’ve chatted from time to time and I show videos of the project in many of my programs (people love it and are amazed at the audacious idea). This is a project worth supporting. The are launching an Indiegogo campaign on Earth Day, 22 April 2014.

We share their press release below with a photo of the prototype parking lot recently completed. They modestly call it an “intelligent” highway system – but I’d call a road that pays for itself, heals itself, generates solar energy, has built in lighting, and heating that prevents ice and snow buildup, and is made of glass… brilliant!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 14, 2014
SOLAR ROADWAYS RELEASES FIRST PHOTOS OF SOLAR PARKING LOT PROTOTYPE
Announces crowdsource campaign to launch on Earth Day
SOLAR ROADWAYS, SAGLE, IDAHO (APRIL 14, 2014)

Parking lot east

Solar Roadways was tasked by the Federal Highway Administration, with a Phase II SBIR contract, to build a solar parking lot prototype. The first photos of the initial installation have been released. “The basic installation is now done, but there is still work to do before the parking lot will be totally complete- LED patterns, covers for mounting holes and mastic to fill the gaps between panels are still to come”, said Scott Brusaw, co-founder, along with his wife Julie of Solar Roadways, Inc.

“One of the biggest challenges of this phase was to explore and test various glass surfaces and textures and test them for strength, traction and durability and all test results have exceeded our expectations. In addition to the solar cells, the panels contain heaters to keep them snow/ice free and LED lights for road lines and verbiage” , said Scott Brusaw.

The company needs to acquire funding to begin hiring a team, streamline the process for quick and cost effective production, and gear up for manufacturing. To this end, Solar Roadways will launch an Indiegogo campaign at 12:01am EST on Earth Day, April 22, 2014.

The Brusaws plan to locate their first manufacturing facility near their home in north Idaho, but envision facilities in most states and various countries as production ramps up. Solar Roadways has already received an outpouring of interest from potential customers, from their home town of Sandpoint, Idaho to remote areas of the world.

Solar Roadways is a company with a single purpose: to replace our nation’s deteriorating highway infrastructure and crumbling power grid with an intelligent highway system that pays for itself through the generation of electricity and doubles as an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized power grid.

Roadway image

Contact
Scott and Julie Brusaw
(208) 263-2537
julie@solarroadways.com

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February 27th, 2014 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Innovation, Media, Science & Tech | Comments Off

Google Search’s Amit Singhal – Constructing the Conversational Computer

The Galactic Public Archives are videos that feature past and present visionaries on their explorations of the future and how it could be embraced with optimism.

Introduction to Amit Singhal (at Google) from Galactic Public Archives on Vimeo.

Meet Amit Singhal. During Amit Singhal’s 13 years at Google, the company has been evolving the iconic search bar into a voice-controlled search engine that allows for a more natural, conversational search – à la Star Trek’s LCARS computer. They aren’t there yet. If you ask Google – using voice – who Bill Clinton is, and then ask who his (using the pronoun instead of his name) daughter is – Google can tell you. You can even follow that up by asking what her job is, and again, Google understands. If however, you follow up your question about Bill Clinton with, “Who was the next president?” Google is stumped. Its ability to hold context means that it can only hold a conversation as long as you stick within some narrow parameters. Clearly search has not reached Her status – as envisioned by Spike Jonze. Most people are not in danger of mistaking Google for a love interest. Still, the system’s current competence is quite a feat considering it happens to be ‘conversing’ and interfacing with millions of people at once.

Amit Singhal, however, believes that the current situation is just a stepping-stone, and that natural, ‘frictionless’ conversation with a computer is an attainable goal.

We interviewed Amit Singhal at Google HQ in 2013. He’s a personable guy with a positive outlook on the future, as well as a staunch belief that information science & search can allow humanity to be, essentially, more human.

Amit Singhal (at Google): Constructing the Conversational Computer from Galactic Public Archives on Vimeo.

During our conversation Amit said that the challenge is finding the missing “intelligent connections” that humans can make and computers can’t – the missing links between today’s search and a true conversational machine. Amit and his team are working on algorithms to allow computers to build those connections.

These videos, and others in the Galactic Public Archives are compiled from our conversations with inventors, scientists, visionaries and thinkers who have compelling visions of the future, in conjunction with 2030, an upcoming film about the future. Discover more GPA videos at Vimeo.com/GalacticPublicArchives.

*Guest Author: Ellen Boss at The Galactic Public Archives

2030

 

 

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February 27th, 2014 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Education, Innovation | 1 Comment

Future Day March 1, 2014 – Join In

Two years ago a movement was born – to declare March 1 each year as “Future Day.” We here at Futurist.com are primarily interested in helping people create, choose, shape their preferred future. The Future Day concept is a perfect opportunity to focus on that. A variety of celebrations and activities are planed literally around the world on just the second year of this effort. We will be dropping by a Seattle activity. Our Futurist.com colleague Ramez Naam will be joining a Future Day event in Turkey. Check the events out and see if there is something going on your area!

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December 6th, 2013 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Space | 1 Comment

The Future of Space Tourism and Commercial Transportation – Part Two

By Mary Ann Keeling

Space Tourism By The Numbers
To put things into perspective, a typical airplane will fly at a height of three miles above Earth’s surface. High-altitude jets fly around 13 miles above the surface. Now, multiply that figure by several times and you’re in suborbital space, about 65 miles above the surface. You’ll be able to go more than three times further than that, even, on the Space X Dragon which travels in orbital space over 200 miles above the Earth’s surface. For a suborbital space flight, passengers will be in the zero gravity zone for roughly 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the type of spacecraft they’re in. On-orbit trips can last up to a couple of weeks.

XCor, Virgin Galactic, Armadillo Aerospace and Booster Space are the primary companies competing to take consumers into suborbital space. Companies like Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Bigelow Aerospace are going further than that into what is known as on-orbit space. Space X is taking it to the next level with their Dragon spaceship, which will make them the first commercial company to dock at the International Space Station. The Dragon will take you to on-orbital space, and will allow passengers to spend up to 12 days in space.

Fun Facts about Space Tourism
The very first person to travel to space as a tourist was a billionaire from California named Dennis Tito. When CNN asked him about the experience, he said “I spent 60 years on Earth and eight days in space, and from my viewpoint it was two separate lives.”

There’s a non-profit called the Mars One Foundation that has a goal of sending humans to live on Mars. Nearly 100,000 people have signed up to hopefully be chosen for this voyage, even without any guarantees that the technology will exist to get them back home. That astonishing amount of interest for a one-way ticket to Mars shows how fascinated people are with what’s out there. The reason it’s hard to get back to Earth is simply because of the amount of fuel required to get to Mars and the amount that it weights, they aren’t able to carry enough to get back home. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered before Mars One becomes a reality, but they’re making fast strides.

A Frequent Flyer Program That Gets You Further
When you think of frequent flyer programs, you probably think of earning a few points here and there and maybe one day having enough to get a discounted plane ticket to visit the in-laws, or something else as equally unexciting. Velocity is taking that to the next level. Thanks to the Velocity frequent flyer program, Velocity is offering the prize of a lifetime, by giving one lucky traveler the chance to win a suborbital space flight on Virgin Galactic worth $250,000. The lucky winner will have a chance to do what so few people have done, to float out there in space, looking down at the pale blue dot known as Earth.

In Other Futuristic News…
Suborbital space travel for consumers is already a reality; it’s just a matter of rolling it out the final stages. Obviously, not everything that is predicted comes true and not everything that is invented ends up being practical. For example, supersonic transport looked very promising at first. Being able to travel faster than the speed of sound means you can get from one coast to the other in much, much less time. However, it wasn’t practical, it was too noisy, and it never ended up changing commercial travel the way people had anticipated.

The DaVinci Institute has some pretty interesting predictions for the future of traveling on earth. They predict that by 2015, gas powered vehicles will start to decline in favor of hybrid and electric cars. By 2020, they’re anticipating “glow in the dark” highways, which will drastically change night driving. By 2030? We’ll start to see the first flying cars. That might seem kind of out-there to imagine right now, but who thought we would be sending tourists into space?

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*Mary Ann Keeling is a writer and a blogger from Brisbane who likes to share her passion for the future through her writing.

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December 5th, 2013 | By Contributing Writer | Posted in Space | Comments Off

The Future of Space Tourism and Commercial Transportation – Part One

By Mary Ann Keeling

At one point or another, just about everybody has dreamed of traveling to space. Can you imagine yourself floating out there, weightless, and looking down at planet Earth, which is now just a small blue dot in the distance? Many astronauts have come back to Earth after being in space and described how the experience of seeing Earth from space is absolutely life changing, how it puts everything into perspective, and is very humbling. Everything that used to seem like a big deal on planet Earth, small conflicts and drama, late fees on your phone bill, someone cutting you off in traffic – none of it seems as significant when you’ve seen the world from afar. This dream is getting closer and closer to reality as each day passes, and space tourism is just around the corner. Soon, you won’t have to be a celebrity or an astronaut to get the chance to travel to space; it’s going to be available to the general public.

Space Tours with Virgin Galactic
It’s been nearly a decade since Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004. They aren’t offering commercial flights just yet, but their vessel SpaceShipTwo is planned to take its inaugural voyage at the end of 2013, so it’s likely that actual space tourism isn’t that far out of reach. The latest news on space tourism is that Richard Branson himself will be taking part on the first flight into space, and really putting his mouth where his money is. This huge show of confidence in the technology and their ability to get to space is demonstrating great leadership and will undoubtedly help to ease some of the concerns that people have about space travel. Imagine being on the very first commercial flight into space? In case you’re wondering what the price tag is going to be, at least initially, to fly to space with Virgin Galactic you’re looking at a cool $250,000. Also aboard early flights will be TV and film star Ashton Kutcher, and actress Kate Winslet (who, and this is true, once saved Richard Brandon’s mother from a house fire!). To top off all this star-power (pun intended), the first flight of Virgin Galactic is going to be broadcast on NBC, which is a television network that has been struggling in recent years to bring original and interesting programming – but you can’t do much better than televising the first commercial space launch!

Other Ways To Get To Space
Virgin Galactic isn’t the only company interested in getting people into space, even though they’re the most talked-about and the closest to making this a reality. If you read the $250,000 price tag and felt your dreams slowly being crushed – there are other options! There’s a program named World View by a company called Paragon (They make equipment for the International Space Station) which aims to take a slightly different approach to getting people into space, namely using a high-tech version of the hot air balloon. You may have also heard of Paragon’s plan to send people to the planet Mars by 2018 which has been heavily discussed in the media. 2018 sounds like a very ambitious goal, but that’s how you get things done when it comes to space travel – ambition!

You may recall when Felix Baumgartner parachuted from space for Redbull, this stunt used a similar balloon system to the one that that Paragon is hoping to use as part of their World View program. They’ve still got a lot of hurdles to jump through and regularity steps to take, so hot air balloon trips to space are further out than the Virgin Galactic option, but they’re expected to be a little bit less costly coming in at around $75,000 for a trip.

If both of those options are a little too pricey, there’s a way that you can win your entry into space, too. All you need is a little luck!

NY Times Branson Space TravelInfographic source:
Richard Branson’s Space Race

*Mary Ann Keeling is a writer and a blogger from Brisbane who likes to share her passion for the future through her writing.

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