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On The Horizon Futures Report

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,

NFL to Track Houston Texans Players on the Field This Season

NFL Football playersAre you ready for some high-tech football? For the first time ever, 17 National Football League stadiums, including NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, will track players on the field during games this season using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

The football league has partnered with Zebra Technologies to use its RFID sensors, about the size of a quarter, inside player’s shoulder pads. The sensors will track where players are on the field in real-time —  how fast they move and what their acceleration is, for example. All NFL players agreed to wear sensors as part of their collective-bargaining agreement in 2011.

The data gathered will be integrated into information shown on TV, or in stadiums during games, and on second-screen game apps. The NFL says it plans to provide the teams with the information for analysis after testing, according to USA Today

Besides NRG Stadium in Houston, other stadiums planning to launch the program include Atlanta, Baltimore, Caroline, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington. Several, including San Francisco and Detroit, tested the tracking technology last season. Currently, the technology is accurate up to six inches, which means it can’t be used by officials to help measure plays at this time. Planned upgrades will track player heart-rate and lung capacity, among other stats.

Next-Gen Urban Farms Target “Buy Local/Go Organic” City Folk

Organic Food

Organic Food

Social entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad are finding creative ways to bring the farm  to city dwellers — literally.

In a former commercial brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota, Urban Organics uses aquaponics – a system in which fish waste fertilizes plants – to supply salad greens and fish to area grocery stores and restaurants. Using just two percent of the water of conventional agriculture, hopes the for-profit farm will prove the commercial viability of aquaponics and help spur economic development in the area.

Seattle recently converted some public land into an edible garden called Beacon Food Forest inviting residents to forage for food. The 7-acre plot adjacent to a city park features fruit and nut trees, a pumpkin patch and dozens of berry bushes. Creators of the garden wanted to mimic a natural ecosystem that required less maintenance and offers higher yields, co-founder Glenn Herlihy says.

In New York City, the Brooklyn Grange produces more than 50,000 lbs. of food annually from two and a half acres of growing space high atop two office buildings. The produce is sold through farmers markets, subscriptions and wholesale accounts. The urban garden also absorbs more than one million gallons of storm water every year, reducing the load the city’s systems must manage.

Some 4,000 Canadians benefit weekly from produce grown by Montreal’s Lufa Farms. Greens, herbs, peppers, eggplant and other vegetables are grown in two, 1.75-acre, rooftop greenhouses developed to create a “local food engine,” says the farm’s director. The produce is packaged with other locally sourced goods like handmade pastas, fresh bread and dark baking chocolate.

Harnessing change is vital to success today

aging womanChange is inevitable, but today’s rate of change is unprecedented.  As the Internet of Things transforms us, as well as our institutions, organizations and cultures, learning to anticipate and harness change is fast becoming an essential life skill.

Many of the world’s most successful companies engage futurists or foresight professionals on staff or as consultants to assist them in navigating, anticipating and leveraging change.  Today’s futurists resist making predictions, and instead, strive to help individuals and organizations identify and prepare for multiple possible, probable and alternative, or wild-card futures.

“We should think of the future as plausible scenarios. Not as a single, predetermined future that looks a lot like the present,” says Peter C. Bishop, Ph.D., president of Strategic Foresight and Development and retired Director of the graduate program in Foresight at the University of Houston.

“The future is more than anticipating what the world will do,” says Bishop. “We are players in our own stories; we shape our own future to some extent. The future is a combination of what the world does, how it offers opportunities and constraints, and what we do, how we can use our actions, the actions of others, and the forces of the world. The forces thundering toward us are not definitive. We have power too.”

(PDF of QRCA article on Saurage website)


Cyborgs and grinders and biohackers, oh my!
People are turning themselves into cyborgs by embedding magnets and computer chips directly into their bodies. With each piece of technology they put beneath their skin, they are exploring the boundaries — and the implications — of fusing man and machine, according to an NBC News story. Welcome to the world of biohacking.

Will robots take your job?
Most sci-fi storylines would have us believe that robots will likely take over the world and humankind as we know it will cease. While a few studies predict robots will take some jobs, robotics wonks and investors believe a significant number of middle skill, non-college jobs will persist in coming decades. “There are simply more jobs available in companies that make use of robots, not fewer,” says Colin Lewis of RobotEconomics.”Our research shows 76 companies that implemented industrial or factory/warehouse robots, including Amazon and Tesla, actually increased the number of employees by 294,000 over the last 3 years.

The future of home security
The coming Internet of Things will likely be most recognizable to us in our own homes. Experts predict that within two years, high-tech integrated systems will allow us to monitor, secure and automatically regulate our interior environments to whatever level we desire and from any place in the world.  Thanks to the Internet and advanced wireless sensors, we will remotely monitor and regulate our homes’ lighting, temperature, security, water, sound and much more via computers, smart phones and other mobile devices. So, what’s taken so long to get this technology to market? According to one developer, there is no room for error with these systems, so manufacturers want all the bugs worked out. Trusted brands are expected to dominate the space as the consumer experience becomes paramount.

Want to be a futurist?
According to the World Future Society (WFS), there is a growing interest in learning how to become a professional futurist. “The first step, of course, is to be interested in the future,” notes Cynthia G. Wagner,editor ofthe WFS’s quarterly journal, THE FUTURIST. “But the second, as with any profession, is to learn the required skills.”

A good place to start may be their Sept./Oct. issue focusing on Futures Education. Featured prominently in the special report is the University of Houston’s futurist-training program, including articles from three of its leaders—Oliver Markley, Peter Bishop  and Andy Hines, and FUTURIST contributing editor Richard Yonck, whose essay about Houston’s Strategic Foresight Certificate Program inspired the WFS to develop the special report. TOP Honeymoon Destinations

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