Money Weekend Digest: 6 April 2013

Technology: 3D Technology Now Available for Those Under Six Years of Age

This trend of immersive entertainment is something that’s really gaining momentum. The way we see things moving forward is the applications and tools you use in the digital world, Facebook, Google Maps, Trip Advisor, Tram Tracker, etc. will be integrated with your physical environment.

For example, you arrive in Berlin on holiday and you’ve never been there before. You ask yourself, ‘How do I get to Alexanderplatz?’ You see projected through your smart glasses (prescription smart glasses if necessary) a 3D image on the pavement of a virtual tour guide that says, ‘Follow me.’

So you follow your virtual tour guide, but realise the walk is quite far. You look at an oncoming bus. Your iWatch displays a 3D holographic timetable showing this is the number 62 bus that goes to Brandenburg Gate, not Alexanderplatz. It also shows the next Alexanderplatz bus is 20 minutes away. So you decide to continue to follow your virtual tour guide.

This example of immersive technology is not so far away. And there are a number of different companies working on separate technologies that when combined, help to create a world of Integrated Technologies.

One of the technologies that’s a part of this is 3D technology.

The annoying thing about 3D is the Buddy Holly style glasses you generally have to wear to get the 3D experience. For anyone that wears spectacles to see properly on a daily basis, this is über-annoying. Glasses on Glasses. Throw in Google Glasses and you’ve got Glasses on Glasses on Glasses.

Too much!

Fear not though; a number of innovative companies have been working on a 3D experience sans-3D glasses. Nintendo had a crack at it with their handheld gaming console Nintendo 3DS. Although it worked (not very well though) Nintendo suggested kids under six shouldn’t use it because it could affect their vision development…not a great selling point.

More recently the usual tech companies, Sony, Samsung, and LG, have experimented with bringing 3D Glasses-less TV’s to the masses. But it hasn’t really eventuated, yet.

There is one little start-up company called Nanoveu using nanotechnology to convert 2D imagery into mind-bending 3D for your phone, tablet and possibly future devices like the iWatch or Google Glass.

Nanoveu

 

Source: Nanoveu

 

To understand how, first you need a basic knowledge of how 3D works. In a nutshell, a 3D device will send different images and light to your left and right eye independently. Your brain pieces these together to create a 3D image that you see.

Two ways of doing it are on the device itself, or in the 3D glasses that you wear. Without going into more detail on each, they both provide you with a 3D experience…when you’re wearing the glasses.

What Nanoveu have created is simply a thin screen protector that you overlay onto your phone. And thanks to the marvels of nanotechnology the screen will enable different arrays of light to enter your eyes independently. This provides you with a 3D image, without the need for 3D glasses…and you can be under six to see it too.

Energy: The Resurgence of Nuclear Power

We introduced you to a new type of nuclear power generation a couple of weeks ago (if you missed it, you can read it here). But although that was new nuclear technology, the existing design of reactors has quietly made a resurgence.

This isn’t news in China, where there are currently 28 new nuclear reactors being built. Similarly in India where there are seven new reactors currently under construction, or even Russia where there are ten underway. Where this becomes a, ‘you’re kidding me’ moment, there are two brand new nuclear reactors being built in…the US.

These are the first nuclear reactors that have been built in over 30 years!

What has assisted these carbon-dioxide-free power plants from getting the green light has been over $8 billion in government loan guarantees from US president, Barrack Obama’s administration. And from all accounts the Obama administration isn’t stopping there.

It seems as though they’re a big supporter of nuclear power. The US Department of Energy is co-funding further development of smaller modular nuclear reactors just for the US. About another $450 million to help develop the project.

But whether you’re pro-nuclear, or anti-nuclear, it makes no difference to the raw fact that there are over 60 nuclear reactors worldwide underway. So far, no fossil fuel or alternative energy generation method comes close to the power ability of nuclear reactors.

Thanks to new technologies, design methods and safety systems, nuclear power is slowly but surely making its way back to the mainstream psyche as a reliable power source.

As we realise that past events are not an indication of the future events (sounds a bit like investing 101) we start to realise that the fundamentals of nuclear power make a pretty viable case.  As a primary method of allowing energy independence of nations, nuclear reactor power just might be the answer that’s been staring us in the face all along.

Might be time for Australia’s Minister for Resources and Energy, The Hon. Gary Gray, to take a look at Australia’s nuclear position again.  Whilst he still occupies the position, anyway.

Health: Finally, The First Step Towards Artificial Intelligence is Underway

We like it when countries actually look beyond their political tenure and make a genuine investment in the future of their countries. Sometimes, the future of humankind too.

And credit where credit is due to Barak Obama; pledging initial funding of $100 million for what is being called the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies project (BRAIN). Now that’s future planning. (We think this $100 million will turn into billions pretty quickly too.)

What’s interesting is the first round of $50 million in funding is coming from the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is a bit like the ‘mad scientist’ arm of the US government. DARPA’s Director Arati Prabhakar stated,

 ‘This kind of knowledge of brain function could inspire the design of a new generation of information processing systems; lead to insights into brain injury and recovery mechanisms; and enable new diagnostics, therapies and devices to repair traumatic injury.’

As Arati points out, the ability to map the brain and truly understand its processes will open up an array of unknown opportunities and advancement in not just health and sciences, but technology and information.

There’s potential to understand and cure brain related diseases and injuries like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and strokes. But importantly, if we know how the brain works then we can reverse-engineer it. So the real possibilities lie in being able to replicate, or construct an artificial brain. Which is why we suspect DARPA has a very strong hand in the development of this project.

Whatever subversive motive may exist, it still stands that the task to map the brain seems overwhelmingly impossible at this early stage. Even Francis Collins, who headed the Human Genome Project when it started, has said about BRAIN,

‘To understand how the human brain works is about the most audacious scientific project you can imagine.’

But remember the Human Genome Project at the time of launch seemed near impossible to complete. And look at where we are now, potential for the manipulation of DNA in everything from designer babies to information storage.

We’ll look back at this starting point in 5–10 years and realise its significance. It’s a historical moment. It will lead to breakthrough technologies and scientific discoveries that haven’t even been thought of yet. It might even lead to the elusive sci-fi concept of artificial intelligence.

As we’ve said before, you can’t create an artificial intelligence until you understand how the brain works. We’ll we’ve taken the first step on the pathway to understanding the brain. It will be an exciting time when we have it mapped out.

Sam Volkering

Technology Analyst, Money Weekend

 Ed Note: Sam Volkering is assistant editor and analyst for a new breakthrough technology investment service to be launched by Money Morning editor Kris Sayce. The breakthrough technology service will introduce cutting edge investment ideas from the technologies of the future, including medicine, science, energy, mining, and more.

From the Archives…

Why Dividend Stocks May Not Stay This Cheap for Long

29-03-2013 – Kris Sayce

Respect the Market Trend, but Don’t Expect it to Last

28-03-2013 – Murray Dawes

Silver ‘$100 Within Two Years’

27-03-2013 – Dr. Alex Cowie

11 Billion Reasons to Expect a 200% Move in Gold Stocks Within Months

26-03-2013 – Dr. Alex Cowie

You Want Proof the Stock Market’s Heading Up? Try This…

25-03-2013 – Kris Sayce

Sam Volkering

Sam Volkering is Editor for Money Morning and its small-cap, cryptocurrency and technology expert. Find out what he has to say here with all his latest articles.

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