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On The Horizon Futures Report

Curated by Pamela McConathy Schied, MS, Futures Studies in Commerce, College of Technology, University of Houston; Principal, Foresight Communications Group,

North Pole Could Be Shipping Lane by 2040

Arctic Sea IceArctic sea ice, now at record lows, is forecast to recede even further and may allow for a trans-Arctic shipping path to be opened by ice breakers. Transporting goods along the Northwest Passage could be possible for the first time in recorded history, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, shaving thousands of miles off current routes. Obstacles to traversing Arctic waters include safety concerns, a lack of infrastructure and services in the area, and the fact that ships would be moving through largely uncharted waters. However, the opportunity to save big will likely drive activity as routes become more feasible. The Futurist, Jan.-Feb. 2014

Take This Pill — It Will Call Me in the Morning

OTH Take this PillDigital “diagnostic pills” may soon be available through a pharmacy near you. A biotech company called Proteus Digital Health has created a “smart pill” system that consists of a pinhead-sized sensor embedded in a placebo pill that patients ingest. FDA-approved in 2012, it connects to a battery-powered patch that monitors various health indicators from inside the patient, such as sleep, activity, respiration, and heart rate. Then periodically, the system sends its data to a designated Smartphone, likely that of a physician or other medical care professional. Proteus is working to develop smart pills that feature both medication and sensors. Inventors of the first digital pills say doctors need a way to measure exactly how patients respond to medications over time.  The first fully integrated pills are expected to be available in 2014 or 2015. In writing about this and other technologies in FastCompany Co.exist’s World Changing Ideas of 2014, editor Morgan Clendaniel observed, “We are living in a world in which the pace of innovation and scientific discovery makes reality seem more and more like science fiction.” 

The Emerging Sharing Economy

OTH The Emerging Sharing EconomyWe Americans love our stuff! And there is a massive self-storage industry to prove it — over 2.3 billion square feet of rentable storage space. How many people do you know who can’t park their cars inside their overly stuffed garages? Nigel Marsh put it this way, “There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” Well, there may be hope for our hoarding habits, as a “sharing economy” emerges just in time to perform an intervention. The concept of sharing has been around a long time (i.e. libraries), but fresh takes on the concept, such as car-, bike-, boat-, home-, clothing- sharing services have kicked off a trend that is gaining momentum, especially with Millenials. A couple of books have helped fuel the movement: What’s Mine is Yours (2010) by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, and The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing (2012) by Lisa Gansky. Now, adding some street cred to the fewer-people-owning-everybody-accessing-stuff economy, Google Ventures and Berkshire Hathaway are backing a number of successful sharing-startups.

Coming to a City Near You

man with virtual tablet pcMore than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, this figure will jump to about 75%. According to MIT Technology Review’s 2013 Emerging Trends Report, Smart City initiatives are underway around the world that take advantage of a networked, sensor-filled landscape where digital data is collected and processed to produce more efficient and potentially more equitable population centers. For example, the Spanish port of Santander, using a $11 million EU grant, placed some 12,000 sensors throughout the city as a test. Its dumpsters were wired to tell garbage collectors when they were full, signs displayed real-time parking information and Smartphone apps informed locals of pollen counts and road closures. Citizens used their Smartphones to let officials know of problems. In the first month of the pilot, the sensors saved the city about 25% on electricity and another 20% on garbage collection.

Watch This!

business couple on a laptopAccording to The Futurist’s Best Predictions of 2013 published by the World Future Society, more than 6 million years’ worth of video will be available to watch online by 2016.  Question is, do you have the attention span or the interest? Social media channels such as Instagram and Vine are filled with creative videographers with huge followings who are attracting the attention of marketers and advertisers. However, audiences are getting smarter and know when they are being sold. They are also growing more impatient. Commercials on television are getting shorter with a 30 second ad seeming long-winded to many viewers. Brands wanting to engage audiences via videos should make sure to respect the desires of the needs and today’s consumer. The Futurist, Jan.-Feb. 2014 On the Horizon is curated by Pamela McConathy Schied, MS, Futures Studies in Commerce, College of Technology, University of Houston; Principal, Foresight Communications Group,


    • Cheap Batteries Expected to Revolutionize Renewable Energy Market Industry forecasts that renewables will be cheaper than grid electricity in most of the world by 2025 and big power companies will struggle to keep up. (
    • Future of Work Report A new study out of the UK aims to help you understand the large-scale changes likely to affect your job or business over the next two decades, and what the world of work could look like in 2030. (
    • The Emerging Field of the Teacherpreneur 2015-2020 With the growth of mobile app development, personalized learning and the need for personalized learning curriculum, the next five plus years will see the rise of the teacherpreneur. (
    • Behold, The Classroom of the Future Intel’s education solutions help teachers provide innovative, personalized and secure learning environments to prepare students for successful futures in the 21st century. (

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