Author: Steve Outing

Get used to fewer and fewer print newspapers

This is a trend that’s been a long time coming. Newspapers are increasingly more likely to no longer be available on paper. The latest example: Community newspapers the Keynoter and the Reporter, serving the Florida Keys, will cease print publication in March. They’ll publish exclusively online, and offer more frequent coverage as a result. (The Reporter prints once a week; the Keynoter twice weekly.) I’ve been following this trend for more than a couple decades; my work since the early-mid 1990s has involved doing journalism about the future of journalism, including the travails of the newspaper industry in the...

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Could this be the future of going to the cinema?

Movie theaters obviously have a rough road ahead, as in-home entertainment has become more appealing, causing attendance levels to drop seriously. Theater owners will need to adapt to our changing times if they still hope to get people to leave their homes. Could the photo above be what the movie-going experience will be like in the coming years? The people in those seats (an audience at the 2017 SXSW festival) are wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets and watching an immersive movie, The Mummy VR experience from Universal Studios and IMAX, starring Tom Cruise. The red seats are the Voyager...

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Car navigation systems probably won’t suck in the future

I seldom use the navigation system that’s built in to my car (a Land Rover), because the mapping apps on my iPhone are far superior. When I want to be guided somewhere, I use Google Maps on the phone, primarily because by using that app I can view current traffic conditions and thus avoid heavy traffic. If I were to use the in-dash navigation, I’d have to live without that vital information. Sure, it’s less convenient to have to hold the phone, or prop it on the dashboard, than to glance at the screen that’s part of my car...

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How will we relate to increasingly life-like robotic assistants?

Our future will include a growing number of increasingly sophisticated and capable robotic assistants. As these interactive machines evolve, they are becoming more life-like. Where things get really interesting is with how we humans will interact with them, and form “relationships” with them. That was the topic of a new episode of the Colin McEnroe Show on WPNR, Connecticut’s public media radio. I was one of the guests on the show, along with Wendell Wallach, a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale’s Center for Bioethics. McEnroe also “interviewed” Bina 48 (photo above), one of the world’s most advanced interactive...

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Ahead: Drones falling out of the sky?

You’ve probably read about Amazon’s ambitions to deliver purchases to its customers via drone – the Amazon Prime Air program. (It’s already being tested in the U.K.) If your concerns are anything like mine, you’re worried that with a fleet of delivery drones buzzing overhead, the possibility of some of them crashing in populated areas could injure people on the ground. Well, Amazon is thinking about our safety. They may not be able to keep all of their delivery drones from dropping out of the sky, but the company has come up with a scheme to lessen the danger:...

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How car ownership could change

As I’ve written previously, many of us who live in urban areas may not own (or lease) cars in the coming years, since attractive alternatives will be available. But the appeal of having your own car likely will endure for many people. Automakers are starting to think about what their own futures might look like. That will include selling or leasing fleets of cars to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. It will include selling and leasing cars to individual consumers, as well, of course. But it also will include offering “subscriptions” to cars for individuals. Check out the video from Volvo at the top of this article. The Swedish automaker just introduced an alternative to buying or leasing: a monthly subscription which gets you a new car (for now limited to two models of the Volvo XC40), plus free maintenance and repair, insurance, and a concierge service. The only expense other than the $600-a-month and up subscription fee would be gasoline. And you can customize your “subscribed” vehicle just as if you were purchasing it. As others have noted, this is the auto industry mimicking the mobile phone industry, which long has offered a way to have a new phone for a couple years and then upgrade to a new model. Volvo’s “Care” subscription would allow getting a different new car as early as 12 months out. At...

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Driverless cars are here now, in Phoenix

We know that driverless cars are coming. The question is when will they arrive for the public to use. Well, the day could be coming sooner than you think for residents of some of the world’s major cities. In Phoenix, Arizona, the day already has arrived. Sort of. As noted in this report (and demonstrated in the video below), the autonomous-driving company Waymo earlier this month deployed a test fleet of autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix and is allowing people there to try them out for free to get rides around the desert city. Riders only have to...

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Will new design trends lessen the stigma of hearing aids?

Next Avenue has published a new article by me on design trends and “hearables,” and how these are likely to help alleviate the stigma that many users of hearing aids experience. As it continues to become more common for people to wear devices in or on their ears – and as the functionalities and features of hearable devices grow increasingly attractive to everyone, not just those with impaired hearing – perhaps this enduring stigma will finally diminish. Check out my article by clicking below. Will New Design Trends Lessen the Stigma of Hearing Aids?   Top photo credit: Olive...

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Uber air shuttles: Really closer than you think?

Flying taxi shuttles may be closer to becoming reality than you think. Ride-hailing service Uber is targeting having its Uber Elevate on-demand air service in operation in some select urban areas by 2020. Check out the new video below to see the company’s vision. Like so much of the future of urban transportation, electrification and mobile technology will be key. Uber’s vision is a fleet of electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (EVTOL), which will be (supposedly) quiet enough not to drive us all crazy. Riding in them will be safe (supposedly) thanks to artificial-intelligence based collision avoidance and...

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What’s likely to be in your stomach in the year ahead

It’s only a short-range forecast, but here’s a look at likely food trends for 2018, as compiled by the Sterling-Rice Group, a marketing-research and brand-building firm based in Boulder, Colorado. I’m not sure what to think of all these, but flavored coffee seems likely to take off. Ditto for pizza crusts that are easier to digest – especially important for the many of us who avoid gluten, since sensitivity is something more common as we age. (Celiac sufferers would be wise to avoid even these “kinder” pizza crusts.) Coffee + Spice is Everything Nice: Say goodbye to café lattes...

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