Michael S. Tomczyk 
Technology - Innovation - Education
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Radical Innovations Looming on the Near Horizon...

Innovation is the implementation of a new idea, concept or invention.  The implementation can come from proof of concept in a laboratory, a diagram in a patent filing, a pilot project, or a commercial product or application.  Innovations are emerging every day.  They can be incremental and gradual, or radical and disruptive.  They can involve processes or products, as well as new business models and market strategies. 
 
A radical innovation is an emerging technology that improves on existing technologies, enables new applications, and changes behaviors and patterns of consumption Radical innovations can come from small entrepreneurial startups, university science projects, government initiatives and corporate R&D.  Many large corporations have developed "cultures of innovation" and "innovation ecosystems" that provide a continual flow of emerging technologies and applications (GE, Google, IBM, Intel, and Procter and Gamble are a few examples).  Radical innovations are riskier, more expensive and take longer to develop than incremental innovations - but they provide a source of long term growth that is essential for large corporations and also create unique opportunities for entrepreneurs who have the passion and commitment to stay the course. 
 
Most radical innovations can be found in specialized or high priced niches such as university labs, defense-aerospace or government projects before they reach the mass market.  By learning to scan for these innovations as they emerge, you can 'read the future' - and anticipate many of the exciting breakthroughs that will transform industries and markets. 
 
A Glimpse of the Future: Included below are some radical innovations that I've come across in my research for writing, speaking and teaching projects. Many of the business and technology leaders who are leading these initiatives are friends and colleagues.  Several have provided interviews for my book-in-progress on nanoinnovation, or presented at the annual Emerging Technologies Update Day I host at Wharton.  It is not difficult to see the future, if you teach yourself how to read the signals.  In these very brief snapshots below I've included the innovation, one or two images, and links to the company, news and videos.  I call this a "glimpse of the future" because all of these innovations are still evolving and emerging. 
 
 

 

How YOU can 

scan the future...

I'm a technology maven with an insatiable appetite for innovation.  To keep current, I estimate that I read as many as 35,000 headlines each year. 
 
Here's how I do it: I use iGoogle and RSS feeds to automatically deliver headlings from New Scientist, Scientific American, Nanowerk and other sources...so I see research breakthroughs, awards, medical and business news, etc. as soon as they occur. 
 
You can do this too - set up iGoogle (or any favorite portal) and when you visit a site you like, find the orange RSS symbol, click on it and it will ask you to link the site to your portal.  The site info. will be automatically delivered to your portal.  Your iGoogle page can be configured to include several different screens - mine are labeled Nanotechnology, Environment, Space, International News...and so on.
 
 
 

Digestible computer chip in a pill

Proteus Biomedical

Proteus' CEO Andrew Thompson calls it "intelligent medicine" and says it's only the beginning.  Proteus' edible microchip, called the 'Raisin' is now in clinical trials. The system connects to a wireless bracelet that confirms when a patient takes his/her medication.

link| news

A $100 DNA Test?

BioNanomatrix

Dr. Han Cao, the founder of BioNanomatrix, has learned how to unwind strands of DNA and guide them through channels on a patented chip he co-developed.  This innovation could lead to a DNA test for specific diseases that cost $100 per test.

link| news

"Spray On" Organ Regeneration

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Dr. Anthony Atala and his team are growing bladders and blood vessels using modified inkjet printers to spray stem cells on scaffolds.  The most likely organs to be available first are organs that resemble 'bags and tubes' which are easiest to replicate.

link| news

The Nokia 'Morph' Concept Phone

Nokia

The Nokia concept phone called the 'Morph' uses nanomaterials and memory materials to change shape.  It can twist and bend and return to its original shape.  Another more secret concept phone (the 888) can reportedly change shape depending on the function - such as changing shape when it receives a phone call.

link| news

LED Lighting for Maximum Efficiency

Lighting Sciences Group

Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to have buildings that are energy neutral, as evidenced by LSG's 'net zero' building in New Jersey.  LSG designs and sells state of the art LED lighting, which are widely believed to be the next generation of lighting solutions.  The company's technology is used by many cities, companies and industrial parks - including the lighting on the famous "New Year's Ball" in New York City.

link1 link2| news

Utility Scale Solar Farms

1. Solucar Solar Towers (Spain)2.Walpolenz Solar Park (Germany)

Large scale solar farms are rapidly being commercialized. The PS Solar Towers in Spain (left) concentrate energy in huge solar arrays.  Germany's Waldpolenz (lower left) is the one of the world's largest thin film photovoltaic power systems.

link1  link2| news1 news2 | video1 video2 

MakerBot "Cupcake" 3D Printer

MakerBot Industries

Brooklyn based Makerbot is selling a 3D printer for $750-$950 - the device turns computer programs into (plastic) objects.  3D printers allow users to create prototypes on the spot, or to replicate and transmit objects to other locations.

link1 link2 link3| news

Samsung Previews 3D ID Card

Samsung

A 3D I.D. card that rotates the "head" of the person was previewed by Samsung at the 2010 CES Show.  This OLED/RFID device displays when inserted in an RFID reader.  Next steps: full video programs on credit cards.

link| news| video1