Scanning Retrospective, No. 1

Foresight Snippets – No. 1

From the Foresight & Planning Unit
[Originally published] 17 November 2000
by Joseph Voros

  • Universities Begin Creating Palm-Sized Versions of Campus Web Pages
  • GM Goat Spins Web-Based Future
  • Stick Your Finger in Your Ear and Go “Ting-a-Ling-a-Loo!”

​Universities Begin Creating Palm-Sized Versions of Campus Web Pages

A few universities now serve up World Wide Web pages “to go” — in editions designed for Palm Pilots and other hand-held devices. The pages benefit the growing number of students, professors, and administrators who carry palm computers. The devices’ tiny screens require university Webmasters to reformat and simplify online resources so they fit comfortably in only a few square inches. At the University of Georgia, the news office makes its daily alerts available in a palm-friendly format. Palm Pilot owners can program their machines to download the special edition of U.G.A. Today, as the page is called, every time their Palm Pilots are “synched” to their desktop computers.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

​GM Goat Spins Web-Based Future

A goat that produces spider’s web protein is about to revolutionise the materials industry. Stronger and more flexible than steel, spider silk offers a lightweight alternative to carbon fibre. Up to now it has been impossible to produce “spider fibre” on a commercial scale. Unlike silk worms, spiders are too anti-social to farm successfully. Now a Canadian company claims to be on the verge of producing unlimited quantities of spider silk — in goat’s milk. Using techniques similar to those used to produce Dolly the sheep, scientists at Nexia Biotechnologies in Quebec have bred goats with spider genes.

Source: BBC Sci/Tech

Stick Your Finger in Your Ear and Go “Ting-a-Ling-a-Loo!”

NTT DoCoMo plans to release a cellular phone that would dramatically change the way callers reach out and touch someone. NTT DoCoMo’s Media Computing Lab is currently developing a wearable wireless phone that consists only of a wristband. The phone, called the “Whisper,” because it vibrates rather than rings, contains a tiny microphone the wearer speaks into. The wristband also contains a device that converts voice into vibrations that travel through the hand, the finger and into the ear canal. To answer incoming calls, the wearer taps the index finger and thumb — that’s it — and then sticks a finger in one ear to hear the person on the other line. “You’re going to have things that make mobile communication more easy,” Ericsson spokesman Rob Elston said. “How that will shake out in detail, I hesitate to guess at that.” The Japanese telecom giant hopes to release the device in 2005.

Source: Wired News,1294,39447,00.html

Foresight Snippets are interesting, intriguing or weird things we find during our strategic scanning which may or may not have direct obvious relevance to Swinburne, but which do provide signals about what the future might be like. Brought to you by the Foresight & Planning Unit.

An archive of the Foresight Snippets and a list of Frequently Asked Questions are available at [deleted].

Copyright © 2000 FPU and Swinburne University of Technology.
Feedback is welcome. Send feedback to [deleted].

NOTE: In all the posts in this series, the original source URLs are left exactly as they were when published 20-odd years ago. This means they will almost certainly be dead links (or good ol’ 404 errors). I do not have the patience or inclination to follow-up or find any archived or re-located versions of those web pages (because, well, life is too short). But, if it really bugs you, I invite you to see if you can find archived or relocated versions of those dead-link pages. And if you do, let me know, and I’ll update these posts with due credit to your detective work.

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