THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- JANUARY 19, 2019
Last week's column was about the explosion of technology and this week we continue along the same path. The thing about technology is that it can be interesting, humorous, awe inspiring and terrifying – all at the same time.
A good example of interesting (and perhaps humorous) technology is appropriate at this time of year. Ice fishing is in full swing on Northern Michigan lakes. The Ice Castle Fish Houses company makes high-tech fishing abodes that stretch the definition of shanty. (https://icecastlefh.com/)
These fishing castles can include: an electric fireplace, a bunk bed that comes down from the ceiling, satellite TV, lighted holes with lids in the floor, a drop-down electric auger to drill holes in the ice and an underwater camera that displays on a big-screen TV. “Some Ice Castles even have an aquarium built into an inside wall so you can watch your bait minnows swimming around before they're put on a hook.” All this for upwards of just $40,000. (https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/business/2019/01/04/whether-tricked-out-modest-fishing-shanties-become-heaven-ice/2420316002/)
If you're not rugged enough to do battle with the great outdoors in your ice castle, you can always stay home with your cat. This just got more entertaining thanks to the new Mookkie Pet Bowl. “The Mookkie Pet Bowl uses facial recognition to spot your cat and feed it food...technology not dissimilar to that installed on your smartphone. Mookkie visually recognizes your pet and opens the flap to feed him or her. Linking to the desired pet and only the desired pet, Mookkie assures that your cat gets the right amount and of daily food as intended.”
The Mookkie will cost you $189 but it could be cool. After all, the Italian company Volta was declared the winner of the Innovation Award in the Smart Home category at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 for the Mookkie. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190104005295/en/Italian-Firm-Volta-Wins-Innovation-Award-Mookkie)
While you're cat is figuring out Mookkie, it might be a good time for you to tackle a mundane task in a high-tech way. If you dislike folding laundry, you need to get a FoldiMate laundry-folding robot. “The robot is about the size of workplace copy machine and it stands to be a game-changer. The FoldiMate folds about 25 pieces of laundry, such as collared shirts, towels, pillowcases and adult-size XXL, in less than five minutes.” This is one of those awesome pieces of technology that you have to see to believe. The projected price is $980 and you can see a video of it in action at: https://foldimate.com/.
Also awesome, if a bit terrifying, are headphones that electrocute you. Before you cringe, there is some science at work here. “US company Halo Neuroscience has designed headphones that have spikes in the band that sits on your head and shoots electric impulses into your brain. They work by applying small jolts to the area of the brain that controls movement — putting it into a state of hyperlearning.”
The theory behind the Halo Sport headset is explained by the company: “Halo Sport increases your brain's natural plasticity, so you can create and strengthen motor pathways faster. The headset works by applying a small electric current to the part of the brain that controls movement, activating neurons so they fire more often when you train. The more neurons fire, together, the faster pathways are built in your brain. That means you can learn any movement faster — from playing piano to performing a muscle up.” (https://www.haloneuro.com/)
You might think this is far out, but according to Military.com these are being tested by Navy Seals , the unit known more popularly as SEAL Team Six. “There have been positive outcomes so far. Early results show promising signs. Based on this, we are encouraged to continue and are moving forward with our studies. For the notoriously hard-training and sleep-starved SEAL community, the device offers greater efficiency in training, allowing operators to train less and see the same results, or train at the same level and get a boost in performance.” Athletes are also on board, including members of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. (https://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/04/02/super-seals-elite-units-pursue-brain-stimulating-technologies.html)
Navy Seals are a tough bunch, but they may get some help in the future. In a very terrifying development (of the “scare the pants off you variety) “...the Army is looking for a few good robots.” According to reports, the Army is looking to buy “... 3,000 backpack-sized robots that can defuse bombs and scout enemy positions.”
The development of robot armies is serious business. “The big fight over small robots opens a window into the intersection of technology and national defense and shows how fear that China could surpass the U.S. drives even small tech startups to play geopolitics to outmaneuver rivals. The competition foreshadows a future in which robots, which are already familiar military tools, become even more common. The Army’s immediate plans alone envision a new fleet of 5,000 ground robots of varying sizes and levels of autonomy. The Marines, Navy and Air Force are making similar investments. China and Russia are investing heavily and very quickly in the use of aerial, sea and ground robots. Such a shift will be a huge game-changer for combat.” Scary stuff, indeed. (https://www.apnews.com/5ab30e91e7174195b598a7379607b191)
If robot armies aren't enough to make you a bit nervous, consider this technology news. “China has built a massive experimental radio antenna capable of communicating with submarines in deep water, reports the South China Morning Post. Though its exact location remains unclear, the Wireless Electromagnetic Method project was built on a site nearly five times the size of New York City and is now ready to emit extremely low frequency radio waves, the paper reports. The project's official use is for earthquake and mineral detection, but it could reportedly also play a crucial role in military communications by allowing deep-sea submarines to pick up the transmissions without needing to surface.” More scary stuff.
Okay, now is a good time to take a deep breath. Let's end this with a tech joke. I decided to make my password "incorrect" because if I type it in wrong, my computer will remind me, "Your password is incorrect."