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Futurist: What Technologies I Am Thankful for 2021

I am a long-time Futurist, and technologist. In my career, I have spanned the birth of personal computers, to the rise of Cloud Computing.

Snapmaker 3d modular printer!

Snapmaker 3d modular printer!

The Technologies I am thankful for!

Many years ago, when she was still alive, my mother-in-law always went around the table on Thanksgiving day and said, what are you thankful for this year? The first time we did that, I was apprehensive, but it has become a tradition. On Thanksgiving Day, we told each other what we were thankful for that year. Sometimes, it was not a big deal; sometimes, it was just a small thing. But every year, everybody shares what they are thankful for that year. So I thought I would start a new tradition this year and mention the things I am thankful for today's technology.


One of the things that I'm thankful for is the improvement in 3D scanning. There are now several 3D scanners that are available and incredibly easy to use. I find that to be an incredible value. One of the things I use 3D scanner four is to replace broken plastic parts. I can quickly scan the broken part and then use the software stitching back together so that it's a single whole unit, or I glue it and scan it. Either way, I end up with a replacement part. I'm not saying that I'm cheap because ultimately, the time I spend and the materials required from the 3D printer probably make the replacement part expensive. But for me, it's a value because I can take charge of broken plastic parts. I replaced four parts of my dishwasher by simply scanning the broken parts and replacing them with 3D-printed plastic parts. If those parts break again, I can print them from the memory of my printer quickly. So effectively, I created my replacement parts factory in my basement.


Of course, I'm also extremely happy about the quality of 3D printers today. The original 3D printers weren't as precise as the newer 3D printers, and frankly, the newer 3D printers also are cheaper. Originally you would spend $1500 or $1600 for a 3d printer. Now you can get a great printer for around $1000 or less. Now I talked before about the printer that I think is the best for the market. I believe the Snapmaker is the future of 3D printing. If you are like me, sometimes you want more! Snapmaker lets you do multiple other types of projects. They've just released a new laser engraving engine for the system. The Snapmaker is modular; you can replace the printhead you are using quickly. That seems like the next evolutionary step for 3D printers.


Those are personal use technologies not necessarily as broad wide market as some of the other things I am thankful for using. Lane assist and park assist in my car or something that I find incredibly useful. It's nice to know what I'm wondering out of my lane. It's also nice to know that the car's technology can do it for me in a really difficult parallel parking situation. I'm not the greatest parallel parker. Having a car smart enough to do that for me is incredible! I also like the radar-controlled cruise control. You put your car at 55 miles an hour on the highway, or 70 in the areas where you're allowed to go 70 miles an hour, it keeps you a safe distance from the car in front of you. If they slow down, your cruise control slows down. I find that incredibly useful. Not that I am a distracted driver, but sometimes the imperceptible change in speed of the car ahead of me is not something I notice quickly enough. With the radar-assisted cruise control, I don't have to worry about that as much.

Cell towers are easier to build than 10,000 trenches....

Cell towers are easier to build than 10,000 trenches....

It scares me that people are running to broadband as the end of the digital divide.

Another thing that I'm very thankful for this year is the increased capacity within the cell phone world. I am thankful for three capacity changes. First is the storage on the cell phone. Second is the capabilities of the network (5g!). Finally, it is the new ability in the cell phone camera!. There is something about the speed of 5G, and no, it's not just that I can download a movie to my cell phone. I can interact with things faster and not worry about running out of bandwidth on my phone. I notice now when I step into a 4G LTE zone. Nationwide 5G is only about 20 to 25% faster, but the reality is that's quite a bit if you think about it. I do also like the quality of screens in the modern cell phone. I do, on occasion, watch things on my cell phone. I'm more likely to watch on my iPad than I am on my cell phone, but the reality is the ability to do that is amazing. The quality of the screen is just incredible.


Those are the things I'm thankful for in the technology space in 2021. There are a couple of things that concern me, and I'll address one of them as my end to what I'm thankful for in the column. The first thing is the digital divide. I cannot tell you how concerned I am about the plans to end the digital divide. One of the things that people often talk about is let's get cable connections or broadband connections to every home in America. I want to say; please don't. Today the best broadband connection to your home is equal to or less than a fixed wireless connection to your home. Fixed wireless is more commonly called 5g home and 5g business. Here's the reality that I think people don't understand. First off, if you're going to put 5G homes or 5G businesses into 10,000 locations, you'll have to build towers. No question there will be a cost of building towers. For 10,000 people, you'll probably have to build a minimum of 10 but more likely a minimum of 20 to 40 cellular towers.


Of course, in doing that, you'll improve the cellular conductivity of everyone in that area. Ten thousand people get connectivity once the tower is built and in the network. If you decide to fund broadband, that means you'll have to dig 10,000 trenches, lay 10,000 cables, and build 20 to 40 switching stations where all those cables come back so they can connect to the Internet. The cost of maintaining those connections alone is high. The cost of digging the trenches and laying the cable is even higher. Plus, when 6G and 7G are, long you won't be able to upgrade those broadband connections as effectively. My push, I guess what I am hopeful for but not thankful for, would be creating a ubiquitous 5G network throughout the United States serving the 300 million citizens of the US. In the end, I believe the future should be wireless.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 DocAndersen

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