Autonomous Cars

Autonomous cars, also known as self-driving cars, are cars that have the ability to sense the environment around it with no human input whatsoever. When autonomous cars come to market it will unquestionably shake up the car industry and completely change the way we commute today. 

How these autonomous cars work is that they are built with a variety of sensors to identify appropriate navigation paths, perceive obstacles and relevant signage. 

There are a number of contenders when it comes to who will get their self-driving car on the road first. Waymo, subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. are reportedly ahead of its rivals and are aiming to introduce driverless cars to the public within the next six months. General Motors are not far behind with their Chevrolet Bolt which has been forecasted to come to market in late 2019. They have the backing from Japan’s SoftBank, who have invested roughly £1.8 billion in General Motor’s autonomous drive unit, GM Cruise Holdings. These are the two main companies that have announced they will be expecting to release their self-driving cars before 2020. 

So far in the race to the first autonomous car, there have been numerous road accidents and even some have been fatal. The first death involving a self-driving car was by Tesla when their autopilot feature was first brought to the Chinese market. The Tesla Model S crashed into the back of a van, while in autopilot mode which resulted in the death of the 23-year-old driver and there was no attempt of braking made. 

Autonomous cars will undeniably change the world as we know it. One way it will change the way we live our lives is that we will be less likely to own a car. The need to spend tens of thousands on your own vehicle and spend money regularly maintaining will be unnecessary. People will have a subscription service where they are able to use a car to get from A to B and then the car will go to the next client. 

Driverless cars will also bring big change to city infrastructure. Where autonomous cars move with greater precision as opposed to human driven ones, streets could be narrower, with more space allocated for pedestrians and cyclists. Traffic lights will become obsolete because the cars will know how to avoid collisions. Also with more cars spending more time driving on the road, the space for parked cars will no longer be needed.

While autonomous cars may not catch on with everybody straight away, as some people will still have the desire to actually drive, eventually there will only be driverless cars just because of how convenient life will be with them. Manual cars that will require human input will eventually be a thing of the past and this may happen a lot sooner than you think. 

Future Of China

China is the second largest economy and one of the fastest growing countries on the planet. But what does the future of China look like?

In 1978, after years of state control of all productive assets, the government of China embarked on a major economic reform. Since then their economy has grown at an average of 9.91%, which is roughly 7-8% higher than the average.

China is not only focusing on rapid development but it’s also attempting to improve the quality of life for their citizens and countering issues such as wealth gap and pollution. The massive outrage against rising pollution has opened an opportunity for electric carmakers such as Tesla and Anhui Zotye Automobile Co. to push for business expansion. This would massively improve not only their environment but improve the quality of life for their citizens. 

The rapid growth in China has allowed them to become a massive player in the technology industry. Nine of the world’s twenty biggest tech companies are Chinese, with Alibaba and Tencent the two largest.

Alibaba is a multinational conglomerate specialising in e-commerce, retail, internet, AI and technology. Alibaba is heavily reinvesting revenue into growth and looking for global expansion. As a result of this it has made Alibaba even more profitable than Amazon, although that does not mean much now as the the main priority for both of these companies would be future growth. 

Tencent is a multinational investment holdings conglomerate, whose subsidiaries specialise in various Internet-related services and products, entertainment, artificial intelligence and technology both in China and globally. Belonging to the technology sector means the company will be affected directly and indirectly by a number of disruptive opportunities and challenges over the coming decades. Internet penetration will grow from 50 percent in 2015 to over 80 percent by the late-2020s, allowing regions across Africa, South America, the Middle East and parts of Asia to experience their first Internet revolution. This will be a massive opportunity for Tencent as they own so many technology companies that will most definitely profit from this growth.

So what does China’s future look like? The Chinese government has announced “Made in China 2025” which is a bold plan to revolutionise the country’s image. Their new policies are aimed at enhancing innovation and production efficiency. China’s goal for 2015 was to become the world’s largest manufacturer of goods, which they achieved. Their goal for 2035 is to be competitive with developed manufacturing economies. By 2049 their goal is to become the world’s top manufacturer. The ultimate goal for China is to change China from a mass-producer to a quality-master and they are on track. 

Smart Contact Lenses – How Close Are We?

Smart Contact Lenses are undeniably going to be a part of our everyday life in the near future, but how near?

It is no secret that demand for specialised health-assistive technologies has been increasing drastically in recent years. One of the main reasons for this is because of the increasing popularity for wearable technology. Products such as smart watches allow us to track the number of steps we’ve walked and track our heart rate. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis and Google teamed up back in 2014 to develop a smart lens that would measure glucose levels and assist those with eye problems. This technology would without a doubt help improve the quality of life for millions. However, Novartis backed off on human testing in 2016, stating it was too early for clinical trials.

Google are not the only tech corporation developing contact lenses. Samsung filed a patent back in 2016 for a contact lens with a display that can project images straight to the user’s eye. The lenses have a built in camera and sensors that are controlled by blinking. A product with these specifications would be designed for the general market, as the augmented reality features and the pop-up display within the user’s eyesight would be linked to their smartphone. Potentially rendering the smartphone obsolete?

Apple have met with augmented reality contact lens firm EPGL to discuss iOS for their augmented reality contact lens, which are currently in development. EPGL have already demonstrated the viability of integrating electronic circuitry into a silicone hydrogel contact lens, which is a step closer in projecting graphical images into a user’s field of view.

There is also a company developing a lens that enhances perfect 20/20 vision by three times. These lenses are called the Ocumetric Bionic Lens, created by Dr Gareth Webb. Although you have to go through an 8-minute surgery procedure to insert the lens, which would understandably not appeal to everybody.

So how close are we till these products are commercialised and available to the general population? Well, there’s no definitive answer for that right now. Smart Glasses, which are yet to hit mainstream interest, will be the main focus for technology companies for at least the next few years. So smart contact lenses coming to market may not be around the corner, but when they do, the potential from there is unlimited. It will make our everyday lives unimaginably different having augmented reality integrated with our vision.