Upgrade yourself to human 2.0

This week, we look at predictive and progressive realities for the human condition.

When Shakespeare shuffled off his own mortal coil in 1616, how likely was he to have imagined future humans that genetically modify the DNA double helix? Now, project your own thoughts into the near future of our species, and then, send them 400 years forward. What dreams may come...

This week, we look at predictive and progressive realities for the human condition.


CPU Tattoo

The hyper-rapid evolution of the PC - from terminal to desktop to laptop to handheld to smart device - continues unabated. More and more, computing interfaces are shifting into objects and clothing. Anyone putting money on the human epidermis as the next user interface? The Hybrid Body Lab at Cornell University is, by advancing the cause of smart tattoos that meld e-textiles with on-skin interfaces. Circuitry is woven into tiny pieces of wearable textile art turning them into touch sensors. WovenSkin is not only pretty, it has pretty powerful potential, too.

Weaving can create a diversity of soft forms that are capable of technological integration. Image Credit: Hybrid Body Lab.

Cray Hooray!

Anyone who has watched the futuristic film Elysium is most likely to have craved a chance to try that human-enhancing exoskeleton worn by Matt Damon’s military character. Well, now you can give it a go. Almost. German Bionic’s supportive Cray X looks after your lower back while you lift heavy loads, turning the everyday version of you into a super soldier.

Put your back into it? Cray X lets you do just that! Image supplied.

About Face

The Hitchhikers Guide to our Coronavirus Galaxy needn’t employ sci-fi novelist
Douglas Adams’ Babel Fish to be understood – a smart mask will do the job. Our planet’s first to integrate with your smartphone, the C-FACE translates your mask-muffled garble into eight languages. Now we just need that international travel ban to lift…

Multi-lingual mask C-FACE talks the talk in eight tongues. Image supplied.


Crowd Control

As a first line of control at a hospital in Belgium, patients are being greeted by CRUZR, an interactive robot by ZoraBots. CRUZR was deployed in May 2020, but ZoraBots have been present in hospitals since 2013. Those who fear technocracy will quickly point out CRUZR’s policy promotion and patrolling function, yet on the friendlier side, the robot converses in more than 53 languages, detects fever and determines if people are wearing face masks properly, offering untiring relief for human medical staff, field workers and volunteers battling pandemic patient numbers.

Moving with the times, the mobile CRUZR can also learn on the job as it aids overstretched medical staff. Image supplied.

AI-men to that!

The 400-year-old Buddhist Kodaiji temple in Kyoto, Japan has a new spiritual advisor. Its latest priest is a USD$1 million machine. Not the first religious robot to tend a faithful flock, Mindar delivers sermons (albeit the same one over and over again) and interfaces with worshippers in the hope of reigniting flagging interest in religion.

Mindar, the changing face of Buddhism. Image supplied.

Computer says YESSSSS!

Using AI to do the design grunt work is not new. Design Indaba’s 2018 visual direction saw local designer Daniel Ting Chong getting clever code to cast his campaign. Now, a Russian agency is saying “Dah!” to AI AD.


The “talented” AI system designed by Russian firm Art.Lebedev Studio goes by the anthropomorphized name of Nikolay Ironov. Image supplied.


Bring home the lab bacon!

Although you can’t buy it in the supermarket just yet, it won’t be long before Higher Steaks’s lab-generated bacon and pork belly ups the stakes when it comes to antibiotic-free, sustainable, slaughter-free meat. The belly comprises 50% cultivated cells and the bacon product contains 70% percent meat grown from cell material.

Fungi Beats
The world’s first microbe-grown, biodegradable headset made from fungus is belting out beats in its country of origin, Finland. Demand is expected to, er, mushroom.

Mycelium music to our ears - headphones made from mushrooms replace fossil fuel and animal-based materials. Image supplied.


Cactus Optimus

What is extremely soft, partially biodegradable, sustainably farmed, manufactured without toxic chemicals, phthalates and PVC, has all the technical specifications required by the fashion, leather goods, furniture and even automotive industries, AND performs well on the most rigorous quality tests? Things are certainly looking positive for Desserto, the cruelty-free, vegan leather brand made from cactus plants.

Tequila and hard-to-eat pears just got pushed off the podium as highly functional cactus leather steps into first place as the most useful application for the prickly plant. Images by Desserto.

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