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Brainstorm: Holiday Wish List

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 4:32am
Edited by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor

  With the holidays approaching, what product or technology is on your wish list?

Santa HatJohn JovaluskyJohn Jovalusky, Qspeed Semiconductor, www.qspeed.com

With so many incredible scientific discoveries and inventions making news, on a regular basis, it is hard to pick out a tech-toy that I would like to receive for Christmas, this year. By the way, last year’s present—a copy of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist’s Manifesto—has been a joy to read; sometimes.

As I mused over what I might want this year, as usual, nothing immediately came to mind. But, as always, an idea finally began to bob upon the sea of ideas that ebb and flow in my head, and I found myself inexorably drawn to its simplicity as well as its potential game-changing capacity. Earlier this year, my wife had forwarded an e-mail from a friend, which contained a link to a video about a Japanese man—Akinori Ito, of Blest Corporation—who had built a fairly simple looking machine that took plastic trash and turned it back into usable fuel oil. The clip (see the link below), which is only five minutes long, is in Japanese, with English subtitles.

As I watched the video again, it reconfirmed in my mind the position that I had taken in a post I wrote earlier this year, about the need for government funding to accelerate the deployable development of alternative energy schemes. In that piece, I stated that it would not be government funded projects that would produce the best solutions, but individual entrepreneurs—working on their own—underneath the radar of well funded projects, that would come up with the best ideas.

So, for Christmas this year, I would like to find a working copy of Mr. Ito’s machine underneath my Christmas tree. And, if not an actual machine, a thumb drive with all the documentation and drawings necessary to build one would be sufficient. Happy Holidays everybody! http://www.flixxy.com/convert-plastic-to-oil.htm

Keith CurtisBellKeith Curtis, Microchip Technology, www.microchip.com

1. Additive 3-D plotters at FedEx-Kinko’s. Stereo Lithography is too brittle, and molding takes too long for the tooling. Having a place to get quick-turn pieces for prototypes and minor repairs on toys, cars, appliances and other bits/pieces would extend the life of nearly everything.

2. A sunlight-readable laptop, with a color E-Paper display and a battery life measured in days, not hours. The technology exists, but there is a reluctance to create the product because manufacturers don’t believe there is a market. However, a laptop that can do email, browse static Web content, and allow word processing and spreadsheets while remaining always-on would be a very handy tool. 

3. An iPad that can handle cell-phone calls and VoIP for travelers in Europe and the Far East would also be very valuable, because we would finally have a communication system that works everywhere.

4. Bullet-train service between Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Salt Lake and Seattle. After traveling in Europe and enjoying the trains in France, I am convinced that this is the only way to travel. No security check, no long drive to the airport, larger seats, AC power connection on the floor, a dining car, and Wi-Fi with a remote office station for printing. 


CandlesSteve McMinnSteve McMinn, Altera Corporation, www.altera.com

Well it’s that time of the year! I’d wish for balanced budgets, low taxes, honesty in government and politicians that act in the best interest of their constituents.  But maybe I should wish for things that are feasible!  I’d like a gift of finding someone, somewhere in the supply chain that felt they should be responsible for carrying inventory they need.  I’d love the gift of supply and demand being in perfect balance more than twice a year – both for five minutes at a time.  I’d love to have Santa bring me all the counterfeit product the broker market has so I could build a big bonfire out of them.  I’d be thrilled to get the gift of honesty in announcing product offerings.  I’d like an airplane that traveled 2000 miles an hour and eliminated jet lag.  I’d like the weather of San Jose, the food of Paris, the people of Italy, the efficiency of Germany, the smiles of the Chinese and the graciousness of the Japanese all to be in one place at one time. But most of all, I’d love the present of the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series – wait!  That already happened!


Ravi SharmaBulb_Basket_lightRavi Sharma, Ember Corporation, www.ember.com

As the holiday season approaches, I find myself browsing the aisles at Best Buy in search of the perfect gadget, device or latest consumer electronics trend to put on my wish list. By Black Friday I am fairly certain I’ll know just what I want, and what my family needs! This year I am increasingly drawn to 3D TVs especially after ESPN announced a new 3D network and news that Verizon FIOS plans to launch feature films in 3D over the next couple of months. Since sports and movies are what my family watches most on TV these announcements make the 3D TV technology very appealing.

As a sports enthusiast, I think being able to experience baseball, basketball, football, etc . in 3D is going to be extremely cool. I will need to get used to wearing the 3D glasses as someone who wears reading glasses my wife may have an easier time getting used viewing with glasses on. While watching sports, I would be able to periodically take a break from wearing glasses during a game unlike movies where the glasses would need to be worn for the duration of the movie. I wish 3D TVs not requiring glasses were available in the market today. They have been launched in Japan but not in the US. I guess I am getting ready with my wish list for next year too. 


Kim DevlinChristmas TreeKim Devlin-Allen, Texas Instruments, www.ti.com

I'm lucky to have kids who are still excited to make their toy "wish list" for Santa Claus this year.  The anticipation of the "it" toy is what makes the kids eagerly count down the days and the parents dread the hunt.  Will this year be different? I am actually looking forward to shopping this year because I can make my wish list right along with the kids. My wish? Video. 

Embedded processor technology has advanced to make products supporting high-definition video available in more than just our big screen TV.  Video is enabling a new way to work, live, play and shop with the use of tablets, webcams, home automation, tools and games. Stores will stream advertising content using digital signage, and kiosks will allow for real-time video chats, possibly with the North Pole elves themselves. Video even hits the road with vehicles featuring a 360 degree view around the car to help you get into that tight parking spot at the mall - amazing!

For me, the "it" toy this year may be a video-enabled home monitoring DVR system or a pocket-sized digital projector enabled with WiFi for remote media display. I've also got my eye on the latest Slingbox.  Shopping for the holidays will be more interactive and more fun this year thanks to the technology that enables video.  I can't wait to check out the new children's toys that use video technology - that's what will be under the tree for my kids! 

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