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By David Forrest | THE FUTURE IS HERE innovationwatch.com ...strategic foresight... ...breakthrough innovations... ...global trends...

A new Industrial Revolution is coming

Over the past 25 years, the Internet has radically altered the way people communicate and share ideas and the way businesses interact with customers and clients.

For an even longer period, starting in the 1950s with the so-called Third Industrial Revolution, businesses have become more digitized. In …

Asia

Patagonia’s Anti-Growth Strategy - The New Yorker

Earlier this month, a peculiar vehicle appeared on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn: a biodiesel-fuelled, reclaimed-wood camper that could have …

Patagonia

Shopping tools help patients find cash prices for medical procedures

When Vicki Burns was told she needed total hip replacement surgery in 2012 she asked her local hospital for a cash price. She got a $79,000 estimate for the surgery.

A doctor advised her to research the fee that the hospital accepts from Medicare and use that as a starting point. Her husband …

Health Care

Europe’s innovators need China’s capital

At a recent event held in London, 10 start-ups were pitching their ideas for seed funding. This in itself is nothing out of the ordinary, as …

Asia

The Time to Think About the 3D-Printed Future Is Now

3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, is likely to revolutionize business in the next several years. Often dismissed in the popular mindset as a tool for home-based “makers” of toys and trinkets, the technology is gaining momentum in large-scale industry. Already it has moved well beyond …

Fabrication

Some 40% of UK’s food imports from areas of high water risk

Globally, the agricultural sector consumes about 70% of the planet’s accessible freshwater – more than twice that of industry, and dwarfing municipal use. The 2015 Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum ranked water the greatest potential economic impact risk.

Likewise, WWF research …

Natural Resources

Can high-tech photosynthesis turn CO2 into fuel for your car?

Imagine having a fuel pump in your driveway that uses photosynthesis, the same process plants use to feed themselves, to turn carbon dioxide into fuel for your car.

It’s not science fiction: research groups all over the world have been working to develop artificial photosynthesis, which could …

Environment

Rethinking the water cycle

Three billion people will join the global consumer class over the next two decades, accelerating the degradation of natural resources and escalating …

Natural Resources

The Great Decoupling: An Interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

Machines, it seems, can do almost anything human beings can. Now cars are even starting to drive themselves. What does that mean for business and employment? Will any jobs be left for people? Will machines take over not just low-skilled tasks but high-skilled ones too? If a man and a machine work …

Economics

The Self-Tuning Enterprise

Idea in Brief

Context

Leaders know that their organizations need to get better at adapting to changing marketplace conditions—but that’s far easier to accomplish in theory than in practice.

A New Approach

Help comes from an unexpected place: the companies that use self-tuning algorithms to constantly …

Management

Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation

Robots will use the latest computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms to try to perform the work done by humans in vast fulfillment centers. …

Robots

France is about to make it illegal for supermarkets to destroy edible food

Responding to startling statistics on global food waste, France has moved to ban big supermarket from throwing away edible food and will force the retailers to donate the unsold merchandise to charity, or to farms where it could be used to feed animals.

The country’s parliament passed the measure …

Supermarkets

A New Material Could Make Storing Our Carbon A Viable Way To Stave Off Global Warming

Capturing carbon dioxide underground is currently too costly for widespread implementation. Until now?

When it comes to fixing climate change, most people focus on the idea that we need to stop putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But what if we could also take it out?

Many scientists are …

Climate Change

This Gadget Washes Your Car With Less Water Than You Probably Use To Brush Your Teeth

Send a few to California, please?

Washing a car in the driveway usually involves a bucket or two, a hose, and so much water that drought-stricken California started slapping $500 fines on anyone who does it wrong. Inspired to create an alternative, a former software entrepreneur designed a new …

Aquariums

American Companies Are One Step Closer To Claiming Asteroid Treasure

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would authorize firms to keep what they mine from asteroids. Welcome to the space rush.

Space may be the final frontier, but according to the pesky 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, celestial bodies may not be claimed for any particular country. But what …

Asteroids

Zendrive Uses Mobile Phones as Sensors To Reinvent The Accuracy of Auto Insurance In Partnership With Guild

If you look across the space of consumer Internet services and physical sensors, people are producing more data than ever before, which is being used to make all kinds of insurance more granular and accurate according to individual risk.

Zendrive, a company backed by First Round Capital, BMW i …

Insurance

New Silk Road Could Change Global Economics Forever

China and much of the world is intent on developing the largest economic development project in history

Part 1: The New Silk Road

Beginning with the marvelous tales of Marco Polo’s travels across Eurasia to China, the Silk Road has never ceased to entrance the world. Now, the ancient cities of …

Economics

See What Times Square And Wall Street Looked Like 100 Years Ago

See what places like Times Square or Wall Street looked like 100 years ago.

Software engineer Dan Vanderkam has embedded a collection of historical photos from the New York Public Library into an awesome interactive map of old New York. If you're a history nerd, or you just love New York, prepare to …

Times Square

Iris scanners can now identify us from 40 feet away

Biometric technologies are on the rise. By electronically recording data about individual’s physical attributes such as fingerprints or iris …

Scanners

The US has space experts worried about an extra-terrestrial land grab

Plans to make money in space are missing one of the fundamental ingredients to any business: property rights.

If you go mine an asteroid, as several companies plan to do, and bring some minerals back to earth, can you sell them? If you build a moonbase, as entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is …

Property Rights

Google on the Verge of Giving Machines Human-like Intelligence

Prominent artificial intelligence scientist Professor Geoff Hinton predicts computers will develop “common sense” within a decade.

Hinton is helping …

Google

US warns 'next step' could be to test Beijing's territorial claims in South China Sea

US surveillance aircraft and naval ships have yet to test China’s territorial claims around artificial islands built in the South China Sea, but the Pentagon warned Thursday that could be “the next step”.

Although the United States does not recognise China’s claims of sovereignty around the manmade …

Asia

Data farming. Literally.

Keith Larrabee's farm sits on 4,000 acres of California's Sacramento Valley, between a coastal range of mountains to the west and the tall Sierra Nevadas to the east. It's an area that traditionally gets much more rain than most of the drought-stricken state. Even so, Larrabee is always worried …

Agriculture

California’s getting desperate: Unprecedented water restrictions target previously immune farmers

As the drought drags on, not even senior rights holders will be spared any longer

California’s drought isn’t going anywhere soon, and as the state heads into a long, dry summer, it’s pursuing ever more drastic measures than ever to preserve its dwindling groundwater supply. Nearly two months after …

California

Solar energy batteries set to transform electricity industry

Australia's electricity industry is about to undergo a massive transformation, with the advent of cheap storage batteries for solar energy.

US …

Renewable Energy

Meet Ether, The Bitcoin-Like Cryptocurrency That Could Power The Internet Of Things

Plus, the devices will make money on their own.

At CES this past January, IBM researcher Veena Pureswaran described the company's joint plan with Samsung to get home appliances to exchange cryptocurrency with one another. The currency, called Ether, is similar to Bitcoin, except that the traded …

Ether

Astronomer Royal Martin Rees: How soon will robots take over the world?

An explosion in artificial intelligence has sent us hurtling towards a post-human future, warns Martin Rees

In Davos a few years ago, I met a well-known Indian tycoon. Knowing I had the title Astronomer Royal, he asked: “Do you do the Queen’s horoscopes?” I responded, with a straight face: “If she …

Robots

This Futuristic Concrete Heals Itself With Built-In Bacteria

A solid idea

Concrete has been a go-to building material since Roman times. It’s durable, easy to make, and relatively inexpensive. There’s just one problem: It has a tendency to crack.

There are a lot of different reasons that concrete cracks, but in general, it gets stressed either from the load …

Concrete

Young blood helps repair fractured bones of ageing mice

Young blood has once again shown its promise as an elixir of youth: blood from young mice helps bones of older animals heal.

Over the past few years, …

Mice