In The Tempest, Shakespeare tells us, “What’s past is prologue.” Our history brings us to this place and sets the stage for our future. Everything that has gone before brings us to this unique moment and enables a rich future of innovation.
America is renowned for innovation – originating ideas that change the ways in which people live and work. From the cotton gin to the assembly line, the transcontinental railroad to the automobile, the telephone to the Internet, ideas and inventions have spurred America’s economic growth during the past two centuries. And, importantly, we are not done innovating. Here are a few inventions that are on the horizon:
- The Superman memory crystal: Imagine, a tiny piece of glass etched by a laser that has the capacity to save an enormous amount of data for more than 13 billion years, according to LiveScience.com. One tiny disc currently holds the Magna Carta, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and King James Bible.
- A transparent antipeep piezoelectric nanogenerator (TAPN): It may have a tongue twister of a name right now, but the TAPN could become as familiar as your phone charger in the future. All you’ll have to do is place a transparent film on the touchscreen of a smartphone or another device, and then every tap on the screen will generate electricity. Which begs the question: Could texting teenagers power the world?
- A braille printer: A 12-year-old used Legos to build an inexpensive printer for people who are blind or suffering from macular degeneration or other conditions that affect eyesight. It used a thumbtack to punch braille dots into paper. Newer prototypes don’t rely on thumbtacks, and are expected to translate words from a computer screen into braille very quickly.
- A fry pan that teaches cooking: Cooking will not become a lost art if a couple of hungry and cooking-challenged college students are successful. They’ve developed a smart frying pan. The pan transmits temperature data to the cook using a smartphone app that also lets the cook know when it’s time for the next step in a recipe.
The human brain is an engine for innovation, and innovation is a driver of economic growth. Let’s hope the outlook is good for brainstorms in the United States and across the globe.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.”
–Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft