Some great science fiction movies have depicted the protagonist sitting in front of a beautiful landscape with chirping birds and incredible gardens (Aliens, Total Recall, etc). Spooky Science Fiction has yet again struck close to reality.
Called the SkyCeiling, it uses high resolution imagery on embedded image tiles to give the looker a true 3D experience. Some of the technology they use in developing the SkyCeiling is used currently to treat seasonal depression. It provides “daylight-balanced light (the same light used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder) for rich color rendition and recognition as ‘natural’ daylight.” The hope is that the product would help sooth and calm people in hospitals who are unnerved by the white and sterile environment.
At some point in the not-so-distant future, somewhere on planet Earth…
Beta Bogdanovsky’s Italian Cācio-model translator spoke with a decidedly male monotone, and had the vocabulary, albeit in 13 languages, of a 3rd grader. Her dog’s translator was nearly as well spoken. Then again, Tóse was a smart dog, an Illyrian sheepdog whose eyes expressed more care than those of most people, and he almost certainly had the capacity to communicate on levels beyond the short sentences programmed into his collar.
“Iz vee NEH tuh,” she said in Bulgarian to a rotund bearded man blocking access to the window seat next to him. A roundish silver and gold box hung from a beaded chain around her neck, and a small bas-relief profile of the Roman god Mercury spoke the Greek, “Syghnomi.”
The man’s posture shifted to make way even before he looked up, and when he did lift his head he was eye to eye with Tóse. Expressionlessly he made a symbolic attempt to scoot his plastic bags out of the aisle, and Beta sided into the seat, setting her gear on the floor between her feet. Tóse sat on his haunches in front of them both. Beta wondered why it was that people could not seem to rein it in in crowded public places and on trains.
As the ARMA Speed Tram pulled away from the passenger bay, the lights in the tramcar faded slightly as they always did between stations, and Beta closed her eyes and relaxed her neck, as she always did when she was commuting. Bitoli was five stops from the sea, as the tram tunneled through the Korab and Pindus Mountains, and then there were six more on the other side of the water before reaching Monopoli. This trip would be an opportunity to shut her eyes for approximately 2 hours, which was a very good thing, because Beta’s eyes were very tired.
If there’s one thing movies have shown us, it’s that identifying people through biometrics can be flawed. Blood can be faked (GATTACA), eyes can be removed for retinal scans (Demolition Man), voices can be recorded (Sneakers) and fingerprints can be used from the guard you just used the Vulcan neck-pinch on (Spaceballs).
But have you ever thought of using your veins as an identification device?
The Hitachi Vein ID bounces Infrared Light from multiple angles which is “partially absorbed by hemoglobin in the veins and the pattern is captured by a camera as a unique 3D finger vein profile.” Veins are believed to be even more unique than fingerprints — even twins have different vein patterns.
Are veins the answer to biometric data theft concerns?
The great thing about veins is that, since they are located within the body and are invisible to the naked eye, they are incredibly hard to forge. One would have to have a scan of your vein structure and build a replica, something even crazy evil scientists might have a problem with. On top of this, if someone were to chop off your finger to access your data, the blood would drain out of your finger making vein identification useless (no blood, skinny veins).
Creating devices that can manipulate and interact with light (photons) is not an easy feat, but the potential pay off is tremendous as we consider the wide-reaching applications of nano-photonics.
Electronics to Photonics The past fifty years of technological innovation have been shaped largely by our ability to manipulate the flow of electrons inside 'microscale' sized transistor chips based on the science of micro-electronics.
In the next fifty years we will open up new opportunities across a range of industries based on 'nanoscale' design of optical devices that use light instead of electrons!
These nano-optical devices are likely to be applied to a range of energy related applications from low power consumption-high performance chips. new lighting and display systems, and solar cells.
Nano-optical devices are also useful in the study of molecules involved in materials used in batteries and fuel cells as well as the study of biochemical systems around algae-based bioenergy systems.
A Breakthrough in Bending with Photons In April, Yale University researchers announced that they have built a silicon-based nanocantilever sensor that can detect as little deflection as 0.0001 Angstroms — one ten thousandth of the size of an atom.
The team's work could lead to a wide range of low cost, low energy consuming, nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) built around these tiny 'springboards' that "bend" when molecules "jump" on them and register a change that can be measured and calibrated.