Why you should care
Because the future is coming on fast, and you need to be prepared.
In Silicon Valley and other high-tech hubs, new products are constantly popping up, promising to change our lives with a single magical feature. But a smart consumer knows she must separate likely reality from fiction through constant vigilance and research, lest she end up with a digital lemon. Luckily for consumers, though, even the most seasoned venture capital investors have faced the same situation and chosen to support a fledging technology that actually did end up changing the world. The following three products covered by OZY’s roving reporters all could make a significant difference to people, but their drawbacks are real and must be accounted for.
Will That Be Cash, Credit, Fingerprint or Iris Scan?
With the introduction of fingerprint technology in last year’s iPhone, biometric security is quickly becoming a part of our daily world. It could make accessing files faster and more secure. But will it actually be any tougher to break into than credit cards, which recently went through severe breaches? Our OZY report takes this problem head-on.
Changing a credit card number or creating a new password is one thing. But how do you do that with someone’s iris or fingerprint? “The problem with fingerprints is that you can never change it, and you don’t know how it will be used in the future, so that limits your willingness to try new things that are driven by that thumbprint once it’s been stolen,” says Blane Warrene, an independent financial services technology analyst. “There’s a lot of Pandora’s Box in this that has to be thought through.” Companies in this sector say they’re trying to address these kinds of security concerns while also making this new kind of payment technology easy to use.
Ever Wish You Could Digitally Record Your Life? Strap This On
Founder Mike Sarow says that Kapture is great for capturing the words of kids who “rarely say the same thing the exact same way” and when it’s difficult to stand ready with a recording device. Kapture is also ideal for creative types, such as musicians, who find themselves constantly reaching for their phones to make notes about what inspires them, Sarow says. The device, whose body was made to resemble a vintage 1950s-style microphone grill, lets composers attach those notes to a 60-second audio file.
The Next Miracle Material
What’s small, flexible, crazy-strong and could change the world in the next 20 years? It’s graphene! The material was discovered a little more than 10 years ago and is on the precipice of becoming the next great economic technology driver. Some of the top makers of the material, including companies in Spain, say it could end up being used for applications such as data storage, transistors, water filtration, optical and medical equipment and even oil drilling. But the technology is so new that heavy worldwide investment at the level of other materials, like aluminum, has not yet occurred. What if the material becomes obsolete by the time it is able to be fully developed? Will the countries investing deeply in it feel the economic crunch?
Dubbed the strongest, thinnest material known today, you can consider this one-atom-thick layer of graphitethe futuristic equivalent of Dr. Seuss’ thneed: “a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!” The global market for this stuff is expected to swell to $390 million in the next 10 years, up from $20 million in 2014, according to IDTechEx, a Cambridge, England-based technology consulting firm. But analysts admit that it’s hard to know exactly how much business graphene will ultimately generate because its production is still in the early days — which is why some market researchers have forecast much less growth, while others expect the industry to expand to more than $1 billion.