March 7, 2017
As you’ve probably heard a million times from your grandparents, you’re living in the future. Although you may not realize it, you live and depend on dozens of technology-based devices. But are you aware of the newest and most advanced technology?
The professional sports brand Nike has developed auto-lacing shoes called the “HyperAdapt 1.0” that released to select U.S Nike retail stores on December 1, 2016. The shoes’ “adaptive lacing” technology features a heel sensor that automatically tightens the sneakers’ laces. The shoes are powered by a battery and a mechanical engine that are embedded in the shoe. The sneakers were originally available at a retail price of $720, but consumers quickly bought the shoes and currently, according to popular sneaker-selling websites, are sold anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000.
This was not the first auto-lacing sneaker that Nike has produced, however. Although not totally available to the public, Nike raffled off fully functioning, self-lacing shoes that resemble the “Nike Air Mags” that Marty McFly wore in Back To The Future II to 89 lucky winners. People would donate $10 per entry to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, with no limit to the number of entries to the raffle, in an effort to win the sneakers and support a cause.
“I would definitely wear self tying shoes,” said Kareem Mughal, a sophomore at Atholton, “but I’m definitely not spending a $1,000 for them.”
With the recent popularity of Virtual Reality (VR) technology, these products were a very common present during the holidays. VR technology provides the user with a 360-degree display, giving the illusion that the user is in a completely different environment; the display even moves along with the user’s head movement. Although it may seem that VR technology came out of nowhere, ideas of VR technology trace back all the way to 1935 with Stanley G. Weinbaum‘s short story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles.” This short story describes a goggle-based virtual reality system with a holographic recording of fictional experiences, including smell and touch.
VR technology works by tricking the user’s brain into believing that they are in a 3D world through stereoscopic display, parallax, and shading techniques . Stereoscopic display displays two slightly different angles of the scene to each eye, simulating depth. This, along with parallax, which makes farther objects seem to move slower, and shading techniques provide the user with an almost life like experience.
There are two very popular VR systems: one for portable devices and one for gamers. The first is simply for touch screen devices that are portable, including a tray to place your phone in, an elastic head mount, and a special lens to see the phone through the VR. This type of VR’s also require certain apps that are compatible with VR technology. The second type is one that gamers are probably more familiar with: the “PlayStation VR.” The PlayStation VR also has a head mount display and is compatible with the gaming console PlayStation 4 to give gamers a better overall experience.
“I think VR would be an excellent way to reduce travel costs and to improve training for the military and other organizations,” said Mr. Lidard, a technology teacher here at Atholton. “I think it is going to open up a lot of great opportunities for people, especially in the job market.”
Maybe getting a license won’t be a priority for high school students in the next couple years. Waymo is a company that is trying to make self driving cars become a reality because they want to “deliver the biggest impact on improving road safety and mobility for everyone.” Their vehicles include sensors and software that are designed to detect nearby pedestrians, cyclists, road work, and other objects from a range of two football fields away in all directions. They have been developing their technology since 2009, starting as the Google self-driving project. Now, they are an independent company and are “more committed than ever to [achieve] the same goal.”
Waymo is not the only company trying to make self-driving cars, but they are the most popular and the closest to accomplishing their goal. Currently, Waymo’s prototype has driven over two million miles. They are introducing these vehicles to several environments in order to improve their prototypes performance in different scenarios and areas.
Mughal concluded,“I think all of this new technology represents our modern world completely: the way we try to make technology more efficient to complete the little things in life.”