Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

10 Tech Concepts You Should Know for 2007 195

mattnyc99 writes "Popular Mechanics has a new list of wide-ranging technology terms it claims will be big in 2007. From PRAM to BAN and SmartPills to data clouds, it's a pretty nice summary of upcoming and in-the-works trends across the board (with a podcast embedded). Though these aren't technologies they expect to be in everyone's homes next year, they're sure this tech will be in the headlines. How do their predictions from a year ago stack up now?" From the article: "Printed Solar Panels - Tomorrow's solar panels may not need to be produced in high-vacuum conditions in billion-dollar fabrication facilities. If California-based Nanosolar has its way, plants will use a nanostructured "ink" to form semiconductors, which would be printed on flexible sheets. Nanosolar is currently building a plant that will print 430 megawatts' worth of solar cells annually--more than triple the current solar output of the entire country."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

10 Tech Concepts You Should Know for 2007

Comments Filter:
  • #11 = Web 2.0
  • by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @05:45PM (#17244804) Journal
    I tripled the size of my Body Area Network using the Twinkie Expansion Method so I could have enough bandwidth to access my whole personal Data Cloud.

    Now my bed is made of Bendable Concrete and my girlfriend has left me, complaining about my Plasma Arc Gasification.

    Now who is going to mend my Printed Solar Panel shirts?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ...and my girlfriend has left me...

      So in your vision of the future, Slashdotters will be able to get girlfriends? Seems a bit optimistic to me.
  • by 8127972 ( 73495 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @05:45PM (#17244820)
    For example:

    "Pedestrian Protection System (PPS)
    Radar sensors and computer-controlled braking will keep drivers safer than ever, but what about pedestrians? In case your adaptive cruise control fails to spot someone darting into the road, TRW Automotive is introducing the PPS system: if you smack a pedestrian, the hood is automatically raised to cushion his landing on the engine block. The system is already being tested, part of a drive to meet new European and Japanese regulations on pedestrian safety which are being phased in, starting with 2006 models."

    Jaguar's new XK coupe has this: http://www.jaguarusa.com/us/en/xk/highlights/highl ights/performance.htm [jaguarusa.com]

    Not to mention FTTH (via Verizon), Perpendicular Storage (via Hitachi Global Storage Technologies), Mobile WiMAX (Rogers and Bell in Canada have this).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2006 @05:47PM (#17244846)
    Even if they make theoretically impossible 100% efficient solar panel. That's not enough for me to buy a solar panel.

    However, if they can make a 5% efficient solar panel. I will buy it.

    Why? It all comes down to cost. Solar power is too expensive for me. It takes over 5 years for a solar panel to pay for itself. Also, a solar panel only lasts (the efficiency declines over time) about 20 years. The capital cost is too high.

    So companies should focus on reducing the per watt cost of solar panels. Not on improving the efficiency. If you can make solar panels for $5 per 100 watt panel .. you can bet I'll be off grid. I don't care about efficiency, I only care about cost.

    A 100% efficiency solar panel can take up 1 m^2 and generate a kilowatt, a 10% efficiency solar panel would need 10 m^2 to match that up .. but if you think about it .. the sides of the square are only 3 meters wide versus the 1 meter wide sides of the 100% efficiency panels. That's not a huge land area to sacrifice.
    • A five year payback is great, roughly the equivalent of 15% interest. That's far better than stocks, with far less risk. Ignoring risks and commissions, the stock market can be expected to have a 8-10 "payback time".

      You are right, though. The answer is dollars per watt. Solar is still not there yet, though it is getting close to matching peak prices in some markets (California, Japan, Germany). However, the "printed" thin-film versions are still highly inefficient compared to normal silicon-crystal
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        No. That just means you get your money back in five years. Investments compounding at 15% double their value in five years, not merely maintain it.
    • by DRAGONWEEZEL ( 125809 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @06:10PM (#17245212) Homepage
      ? moderation?

      So in 20 years the solar panel just stops working?

      I think not. actually it's an asymptotic curve which levels out over time. Yes their peak is at teh begining, but they still produce Usable power for a long time.

      From Wiki ". (Normally, photovoltaic modules have 25 years' warranty, but they should be fully functional even after 30-40 years.)"

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics [wikipedia.org]

      Also, your economics are slightly skewed
      your not paying for 100W of e-. Your paying for a system to manufacture a peak of 100W of e- during daylight hours (avg probably 50W (just guessing?))

      If it was $5 for 100W panel, e- would be close to free anyway because everyone would produce their own.

      Secondly not many man made conversions happen at 100% efficiency.

      I am not a huge alternative energy freek, but economics dictate that solar panels are allready a smart choice for home use. Admittedly, if demand for them suddenly increased, that would not be so. But assuming e- prices continue to go up, (they will, you can bet on it in the long term for at least another 20-40 years) Then you have an even more economicaly strong position. Now, it's probably not going to net you the hugest gains, but it pays for itself, and then more. It's a solid return, that lasts a long time, and is scalable, upgradeable, and virtually maintenance free.

      P.S. talking about grid tied, inverted system here. None of that silly battery stuff.
    • Uh... Printable solar panels, by negating the need for extensive/expensive fabrications processes will do both, make them more efficient and less expensive. Isnt that the whole point?
      • That would be cool, as long as you don't need special paper or ink.
        • by shmlco ( 594907 )
          "That would be cool, as long as you don't need special paper or ink."

          You can only use genuine Epson ink, at $500 a milliliter...
    • I think the point is that they're about to get much cheaper if this company succeeds. If those solar panels were only marginally more expensive than roofing shingles and could pay for themselves within 6 months, would you still not buy them?
      • by h2_plus_O ( 976551 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:04PM (#17247764)
        Heck, it's hard to argue against buying solar panels now. If they pay for themselves in 5 years, as has been suggested upthread, and they have a functional lifespan of > 25 years, you could buy >25 years' worth of electricity for the price of 5 years' electricity. The only 'risks', really are: a) what if the price of electricity goes down? and b) what if the price of solar panels (cost:watt) goes down?

        If solar panels paid for themselves in 6 months, I'd cover my whole roof with them, sell my cars and buy cars that can run on electricity, convert my gas furnace and hot water heater to run on electricity... and I'd give my oil, coal, and gas-burning brethren unending hell until they did the same. If solar panels were cheap enough to pay for themselves in 6 months, it would make sense for everybody to do it- not only for environmental reasons, but also for economical ones.

    • Even if solar becomes cheap enough, what will prevent me is my home owners association. They don't allow solar panels. Move to a neighborhood that doesn't have that rule? I would have to move to a neighborhood that doesn't have a home owners association. Yeah, good luck in finding one! Folks are so afraid of their property values being hurt, they turn into housing fascists.

      There was an article in the WSJ a couple of years ago where a guy in TX had to move out into the country so he could put solar panels on

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @06:35PM (#17245712) Journal
        Even if solar becomes cheap enough, what will prevent me is my home owners association. They don't allow solar panels. Move to a neighborhood that doesn't have that rule? I would have to move to a neighborhood that doesn't have a home owners association. Yeah, good luck in finding one! Folks are so afraid of their property values being hurt, they turn into housing fascists.

        Yes, this is a real problem. However, if cells become reasonably priced, and can be "printed", what would it take to "print" them onto an attractive subsurface so that it blends in nicely?

        And, lest you think this is a NEW idea, an "I'm feeling lucky" Google search led me to somebody else who already had the same idea. [premierpower.com]

        More expensive? Sure! Why else would they go to the extra effort? But it's at least POSSIBLE.
        • Sounds like a good reason to trim back the powers of HOAs. I never did like the ones I've seen. That said, a lot of HOAs will ignore stuff that isn't visible from the street.
      • by Itninja ( 937614 )
        Yeah, good luck in finding one!

        It's not that hard if you get out of WASP-ville, USA. All us work-a-day slobs that don't live in a "planned community" can put up solar panels.
      • by njh ( 24312 )
        Take the HOA to court?
      • There are several companies manufacturing roofing shingles, faux slate and metal roofing panels which are coated with PV material. Unless they're picky about the color of the shingles (or it's a historical area which insists on Real Slate (tm) ) then you CAN get a solar roof put on.

        I should mention that these do tend to be a little more expensive. Hopefully the printable solar stuff will bring the price down considerably and offset this.

    • Are you kidding me? There's no way they can make sailor power more efficient. It's been in use for thousands of years, and it's not going away any time soon.
      • by Fred_A ( 10934 )
        Just try having a dozen sailors in your cellar for a while and you'll soon try and find another power source !
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Huh? What if the $5/watt cells are not powerful enough to power your A/C during peak hours, but the $10/watt cells are? There are a lot of factors here. You've only got so much roof space, and most people won't put them out on the lawn, even if community standards allowed that. For the A/C scenario, the 20 years during which the cells become less powerful is 20 years during which you could be growing trees to shade your house. Deciduous trees will reduce the power from the cells, but they'll reduce you

      • by shmlco ( 594907 )
        "FWIW, I think the cells will make more sense on the roofs of low-rise "flex office space" initially."

        Not to mention that most businesses are open, and as such, need power, during the daylight hours...
    • Yeah - what you said, PLUS the ability to buy pieces at a time. The systems need to be very modular, so I can buy them as I have the resources. I'll probably never go out and buy $X,000 of solar panels in one shot, but I could probably afford a few hundred dollars' worth every few months. If you make it so you need to buy the whole system at once, and replace the whole thing at once should it die, it will always be prohibitively expensive.

      The nice thing about the incremental purchase approach is that they p
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rrhal ( 88665 )

      If you can make solar panels for $5 per 100 watt panel .. you can bet I'll be off grid. I don't care about efficiency, I only care about cost

      You paid ~ $10,000 to have a licenced electrician (time and materials) wire your fuse box to the grid. For that kind of money you could buy a solar system that would keep you in electricity for a long time. There would be thousands of dollars left over. If you invested that along with your monthly electric payments you would have a fund that would replace anything that failed in your home system for much of the rest of your life.

      • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @08:25PM (#17247272) Journal
        Who paid $10k for an electrian to wire you to the grid?!?

        The power company runs the power to your house for free in every state I have lived in. They will even upgrade the service from 100 amps to 200 amps for free. The only "tie in to the grid" is the connection from the meter to the mains, which are less than a meter away from each other, as required by code.

        This is a $200 job, not a $10,000 job. Everything else you are paying for, from the mains to the socket, has to be done regardless of where the power comes from. AND you can wire a brand new 2400 sq ft house for less than half of what you are claiming, sockets and switches included.

        Now, to hook your DC powered solar panels up to use in your home, you will need to either wire new DC circuits to everything or use an inverter system. To connect YOUR power to the grid to sell back/use off time, and sync the phasing, etc. you are going to spend several thousand for autoswithing, inversion, etc. It's worthwhile, but it isn't cheap to connect your OWN power source to the grid.

        Your numbers are simply out of whack and (with all due respect) not based on real world scenarios.
        • by Yartrebo ( 690383 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @08:55PM (#17247662)
          Perhaps the parent is using union labor that has to be paid a living wage? I certainly would never bid $10,000 for a modern wiring job of a huge house (2,400 sq. ft. is huge in my book) if I'm paying my employees $20/hour + medical + taxes.

          If it's in new construction it's maybe doable, but as a retrofit job (which I'm assuming is the case as this is being conpared to a solar panel retrofit) it will be extremely labor intensive as old plaster has to be removed and then new plaster put over wherever you have to go into the wall.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Pharmboy ( 216950 )
            He was saying you pay $10k for the tie, which is absurd. I am currently rewiring a 2700sqft house, but it had only paneling and I tore it all down. Doing the work myself, so not paying but a few hundred for wire.

            Doing it to an old house wouldn't require tearing out much sheetwork or plaster if you have a clean run from the attic to the socket. Even if you did, you would just be ripping the section between two 16" studs. Not a $10k job in the worst of situations. The main point is that it is CHEAPER to
            • I was assuming that the house had no wiring - in other words, you need to build an electrical system from scratch. That is going to take a lot of time, and plenty of engineering effort too. Even in a building like the one I live in, which does have an electrical system (even if it dates to before WWII), bringing the wiring up to modern standards would require a complete rewiring if you want to get any more than 20 amps on a circuit and a major wiring job if you want any more than 3 circuits (it's set up as
          • I certainly would never bid $10,000 for a modern wiring job of a huge house (2,400 sq. ft. is huge in my book)

            Yeah, it's more like 12k. At least, that's what my coworker was quoted by a contractor to rewire his newly bought house (harry homeowner shit all over the place). This is in seattle, which isn't exactly cheap.

    • "That's not a huge land area to sacrifice."

      Why would you sacrifice any land at all. How about just sacrificing some roof area instead?
    • you have zero proof (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What's the cost of your electricity in 20 years? Oh, you have no idea? Correct. So how do you know whether or not it's cost effective?

      When you can show the lads-point to a link-with your local electricity supplier that offers a 20 year pricing contract, then you can make such a statement. Until then, you have absolutely no data to assert your assumption and cult-like belief system, ie, it's time to dump "junk economic science".

      Now, I can't assert anything either, but I can say that solar bought toda
    • will however completely change the equation for new housing.
    • You're right on the money there.

      Also, what the solar guys neglect in their calculations is that if you're going purely by financial reasons, the investment of $10,000 today is a huge opportunity cost.

      To say that the panels "will pay for themselves" in five years doesn't quite cut it. They not only need to pay for themselves, but also the earning potential of that initial $10,000 investment in order to be worthwhile. In a decent savings account, by then end of five years, you'll have $12,762 on your $10,00
      • Actually, they only need to make the initial invesment + interest. Once that's happened, you're in the black, and will most likely be able to pay for replacement panels that work better 15 years later.
    • by Eivind ( 15695 )
      Both are important.

      If the efficiency is too low, then it requires to much *area*. Land is not free. The size of your roof is not unlimited.

      If the price/watt is too high, then it doesn't matter how efficient it is -- it's still never going to pay for itself. I actually think you're being overly optimistic in your estimates that current solar-panels pay for themselves in 5 years.

      If they did, they'd be good investments. Life-span is around 20 years, but as you say they get somewhat less efficient with ag

    • by jbash ( 784046 )
      It takes over 5 years for a solar panel to pay for itself.

      That's a much better return on investment than you can make in the stock market. (The S&P 500 has returned an average of 10% a year since 1926.)
  • by deesine ( 722173 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @06:05PM (#17245142)
    I should just ignore the ones for 2007.
  • I'm amazed these things are just coming around now. I remember seeing them years ago on some disconvery channel show.

    Pretty neat things though.. but I don't envy those who 'recover' the pills after theyve passed through someone.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by EMeta ( 860558 )
      So large of a percentage of medical equipment is disposable (for hygine, of course, but man do they make a whole lot of waste), that I wouldn't be surprised at all if this was the same--at least in mostly developed nations. If you make them disposable you also needn't make them big enough to be recharged (or dissasembled for battery replacement, etc.) or carry any more charge than necessary for one trip.

      Combine that with its makers being able to sell more & it still being a cheaper prospect for many HM

      • I believe it's disposable for cost reasons. You could have perfectly safe reusable equipment, but you would have to properly sterilize it using hydrogen peroxide, heat, or some other thorough method after every use.
    • by whargoul ( 932206 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @06:35PM (#17245726) Homepage

      I'm amazed these things are just coming around now. I remember seeing them years ago on some disconvery channel show.

      Pretty neat things though.. but I don't envy those who 'recover' the pills after theyve passed through someone.
      I don't imagine these are "recovered", but can you imagine the conversation in the doctors office when presented with one of these?

      Doctor: Well sir, you have 2 options.
      Doctor: We can give you this brand new SmartPill for $500
      Doctor: or you can take this recycled SmartPill we just "recovered" from an elderly gentleman with chronic diarrhea for $7.50
      Patient: uh...I'll take the new one, thanks.
      • If you have put it in an autoclave, I don't have any issues about you inserting it into me afterwards. Do I want direct blood-to-blood contact with any member of the population? No. Do I think that fear is rational? Yes. Do I worry about surgery because oh-my-God-who-knows-where-that-scalpel-has-been? No. I *know* where it has been: the autoclave. It has no magical memory of being in the HIV-infected crack-fiend two weeks before.
      • by tigga ( 559880 )
        I believe it would be easy to have discardable external 'skin' for pills. Use it, discard skin, put new skin on for another usage.
  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @06:10PM (#17245214)
    This way your dealer doesn't need to stock a variety of substances. You pop a pill, when it goes in, it connects with your system, and figures out what you really need to feel good, and then provides it.
    • by deanoaz ( 843940 )
      How about a capsule full of nanobots that bore their way into your brain and directly stimulate the pleasure center until their batteries run out?
  • What about 2006? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DaveWick79 ( 939388 )
    I didn't see anything on the 2006 list that became a buzzword in 2006 - maybe they will in 2007, who knows. Only two on the list, Fiber to Home and IP Television, have made much news. There's a few obscure technologies that people will never care to know the name of, and the rest simply haven't come about. For 2007, how long will we be waiting for these? And why is Body Area Network on the list, a mere repeat of things that didn't make it to prime time in 2006 and is admittedly something they don't think
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BuddyJesus ( 835123 )
      I didn't see anything on the 2006 list that became a buzzword in 2006 - maybe they will in 2007, who knows.

      I dunno, Ajax [popularmechanics.com] was on that list, and it became pretty big.
  • by pseudorand ( 603231 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @06:29PM (#17245600)
    So, while the US is facing terrorism that we fund ourselves via our addiction to foreign oil, the president is going on and on about switchgrass, and the entire world may be facing declining oil production while demand continues to increas, technologies that turn trash into power, cheaper solar pannels, and more secure passports will have a LOW impact? At the same time TV and file sharing over the internet, both problems we already have perfectly good solutions for (Cable, Satellite, movie rental stors, Netflicks, HTTP/FTP protocols) will have a HIGH impact? Something just doesn't add up.
  • Body Area Networks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VoidEngineer ( 633446 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @06:31PM (#17245640)
    I work at a hospital, and I'll vouch that we're already investigating body area networks. Patient monitoring, obviously, is the big one; but we're also very interested in the cost savings of a good RFID sponge count system. After each surgery procedure, some poor shlep has to count through all the sponges and make sure that the count matches up with the number used. And if we're short a sponge or two, then we have to take an x-ray of that patient to see if something was left inside of them. And if something *was*, well, obviously it needs to be removed, necessitating more surgery, and another sponge count.... We're hoping that RFID/wireless chips are going to solve this problem. Also coming down the research pipe, as I understand, are a variety of wireless enabled surgical robots that can crawl the stomach and intestines and do various repair work, and RFID/wireless enabled aneurysm clips and pacemakers to warn against putting patients into MRI fields. Obviously, all vital sign monitoring equipment is getting ready to be put on the networks, which is going to be huge, especially with our associated nursing homes and the aging baby boomer population.

  • I wish the real world would really work out like that.

    Last night I watched the movie "Who killed the electric car?",
    (Everyone should see it, along with and "Hacking Democracy", "Fahrenheit 911" and "An Inconvenient Truth").

    In that movie, Texaco bought out the NiMH Electric car battery technology and killed it.
    Then GM and Toyota took back all the EV1's and crushed them.

    • You want to stop "Big Oil" or just revel in victimhood? Do something besides being such a fatalist, otherwise you and the other knee-jerk "Big Oil conspiracy" blog posters should shut the F up.

      • I am hardly fatalistic, But until there is a change of the guard, we are stuck.
        It's not just Big Oil, is the Old wealthy monopolies.
        No one here blinks an eye when anyown critisizes Microsoft, but the Food companyies, and Oil companies and just about all monopolies start using the goverment, legal and other questionable tacktics to kill off any possible new competing technologies.

        The difference here is if Solar doesn't take off like it should, say because of Big oil, then we a
  • There was an announcement earlier this week by IBM that they've come up with a PRAM that is 500x faster than Flash, with unlimited writes, using half the power. This blows away the PRAM mentioned in this article. The lesson: IBM's unreleased product will always be better than your unreleased product!
    • While the PRAM developed by a joint project of IBM, Macronix and Qimonda is very impressive, it's still a long, long way from production because no commercial fab can manufacture it on a large scale. But Samsung's PRAM is far closer to production, and by the fall of 2008 don't be surprised if Apple ships a video iPod that uses 80 to 100 GB of PRAM.
      • Who cares if Samsung's PRAM is in production - it's obsolete! I'll take nonexistent superior technology over available obsolete technology any day of the week. It's so much cheaper that way...
  • New? Anyone who's ever done anything with old Macs knows this is the Preferences RAM [wikipedia.org], and when the clock starts acting funny, it's time to replace the PRAM battery.
  • I've known about PRAM for many years now. I was hoping by 2007 I wouldn't have to know about it, as it would be made obsolete - and I would no longer have to "zap the PRAM" when things start acting funky. Sigh.
  • In Summary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shadyman ( 939863 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @07:57PM (#17246940) Homepage
    For those of us who don't want to RTFA [popularmechanics.com], (in no particular order):

    10) Bendable Concrete
    9) PRAM (Phase-Change Random Access Memory)
    8) Printed Solar Panels
    7) Passport Hacking
    6) Vehicle Infrastructure Integration
    5) Body Area Network
    4) Plasma Arc Gasification
    3) VoN (Video on the Net)
    2) Smart Pills
    1) Data Cloud

    I guess when #3 comes about, we will be living in the "VoN Age"?
  • by Thornae ( 53316 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @09:36PM (#17248078)
    My Grandfather [adelaide.edu.au] was an expert on concrete, especially pre-stressed concrete. One of his party tricks was to show off a piece of thin, flat concrete, slightly larger than a standard ruler, then bend it in an arc.

    He'd created this by stretching a thin wire with weights along a form, then pouring the concrete. Once the concrete was set, he removed the weights, which caused the wire to shrink, compressing the concrete and rendering it much more flexible.

    Admittedly, they're actually talking about a different technology in the article, but they make it sound like no-one's ever made bendable concrete before.
    • Yes it is. (Score:3, Informative)

      You're right, this isn't the same tech at all. What your grandfather demonstrated was an extreme example (ie very thin) of a well-established structural technology - pre-stressed steel-reinforced concrete. Putting the steel members of a beam under strain before pouring in the magic-mix is very, very widely used in the construction industry.

      The reason this allowed the beam your grandfather manufactured to be so flexible is that it was so thin - basically a steel member with a coating of concrete (probably w

  • by Tribbin ( 565963 )
    Body area network, must be invented by a geek who can't get laid:

    "Let me just examine your body area network to see if I can pin-point this little problem... Do you feel a little tingeling here?"

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire