A decade or so ago, the feeling about the technology of the future was that we would have our lives made so much easier but at a clear cost. The former has been proven to be the case and the latter view has persisted. Very notable technology people such as Elon Musk, have been warning the general public about the ‘rise of the machines’. Although it’s easy to laugh this off and rolls your eyes a little, it’s actually not a far-fetched idea. In fact one might even say that this is slowly but surely, becoming a very real possibility. And yet, contemporary technology is also proving to be so much more than just comforting or entertaining. We are in fact, about to save lives thanks to the leaps and bounds that have been made in the sector.
The eyes and ears for soldiers
War is an inherently dangerous thing. But, modern-day militaries are not sitting on their hands shrugging their shoulders when it comes to life-saving technological advancements. Mini-drones are a ground-deployed technology that can act as the eyes and ears of units in the field. The inspiration that brought these mini-drones to life is the fact that all previous technologies did not make urban warfare less risky than the previous decades. The US army has just bought 9,000 mini-drones in a bid to vastly improve the situational awareness of the officers and commanders on the ground.
The drone they bought weighs just 1.16 ounces or 32g. It’s called the FLIR Black Hornet 3 and has been coated in a non-reflective material, so as to make it difficult to spot. It’s just 168mm or 6.6 inches. It acts as a UAV helicopter with a forward-facing camera. Troops who deploy these small and very quiet drones will be able to get a bird’s eye view of the battlefield and with it, all the benefits of mapping out the battlefield in real-time. Although they may only last for 25-minutes, it’s enough to record the footage onto a laptop or tablet, and rewatch as and when the troop commander wants. In urban warfare, it’s always been a case of who sees who first that will usually come out on top in a close-quarters engagement. With these mini-drones, troops will have an extra and much more capable pair of eyes and ears.
A microchip for your health
Just hearing the words microchip and human in the same sentence sends some people into a moral panic. We should be wary of putting technology inside our bodies. As much as Hollywood movies make being a cyborg cool, in real life, it’s felt like an invasion of privacy and danger. However, some companies in the health industry are offering customers the option of having a small microchip placed in their forearm. On the chip, will be your full medical record as well as a report of any technology in your body, such as a pacemaker. If you have suffered a brain injury and now have some kind of technology placed inside your skull to help you function, the chip will gather data from it.
They are called radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. Doctors and surgeons would use specially-made scanners to scan the chips and have readable data uploaded to your health report. This would allow doctors to study patterns and catch horrible detriments before they were to happen. The danger is that your RFID might get hacked and this could lead to interference with your other healthcare technology or it could be utilised as a platform to hack into your mobile. The concerns are being listened to and work is being done to mitigate this threat. But one can see how beneficial a health chip could be, as it would constantly send information to your doctor and allow him or her to spot abnormal behaviour in your body.
The modern watchtower
On many islands across the pacific, volcanoes and earthquakes are a very real danger. Tropical islands are almost never without their ugly side and they often catch tourists and even locals off guard. That’s why health and safety drones are being created to go to the scene of an accident or at the mouth of a fissure. Whether it’s a break in a glacier or a sudden avalanche from a mountain top, life-saving drones could give us better fore-warning. One of the leading manufacturers of such drones, DJI, produces the Matrice 200 series. The Matrice 200 V2, Matrice 210 V2 and the Matrice 210 RTK V2 are the top choices for firefighters, police and countryside emergency services. Disaster management companies love these types of drones because they have cameras fitted to them, as well as being able to fly and hover in windy environments.
They can be used to locate trapped hikers on the side of a mountain. They can also be used to analyse damage from a natural disaster. For governments who want to know the true scale of damage a hurricane or flood has left behind, a Matrice 200 series drone would be the best choice for a bird’s eye view. They can also help create 3D models of buildings which is excellent for police engaged in a hostage or terrorist situation.
It goes without saying, 3D printers are going to become more and more amazing as the years go on. Now we can print medical apparatus that is unique to patients and thus, achieve a higher operations success. Being able to print a disc for a hernia spinal operation is incredible and more likely to have fewer complications.
The 3D printing of hearing aids is also in full flow. Now people can wear hearing aids that are more comfortable and won’t slip out under stressful motions. 3D printing is also used to make prosthetic limbs as stumps are very difficult to attach items to. With unique shapes and sizes, 3D printers can create prosthetics for each patient individually and at a quicker pace.
Although we should be wary about certain types of technologies and how they’re used, the majority of contemporary technology is going to not just make living more fun, but safer as well.