Abundance Insider: April 29 Edition

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In this week's Abundance Insider: Flying taxis, brain-controlled drone racing and printer ink made from pollution.

Cheers,

Peter, Marissa, Cody, Maxx, Kelley and Greg

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Taxis to Take Flight

flying taxis

What it is: The e-volo Volocopter VC200 is the world's first certified multicopter -- and it just received its permit to fly as an ultralight aircraft in Germany. The electric personal aerial vehicle takes off and lands vertically using a simple joystick control, and e-volo boasts that its design is easy enough for anyone to pilot it. The company's next goals are to initiate air taxi services, enter the air sports market, and continue its autonomous mobility development.

Why it's important: As autonomous vehicle technology continues to improve, futuristic transportation methods like this one may become a cheaper, easier and faster mode of travel than even self-driving taxis on the ground. Expect to see even more innovative approaches when the Transporter XPRIZE launches.

Spotted by Ryan Wolfred

World's First Brain-Controlled Drone Race

brain controlled drone race

What it is: Drone racing is gaining widespread popularity, and the University of Florida broke new ground in this niche with the first-ever brain-controlled drone race. Sixteen pilots used BCI software, electroencephalogram headsets and their focused thoughts to send drones down a 10-yard indoor course.

Why it's important: Another early demonstration of BCI advancements. It won't be long until we can interact with objects around us -- in our homes, at work and everywhere else -- just using our thoughts. Talk about magic!

Spotted by Keith Gargiulo

Printer Ink From Pollution

printer ink from pollution

What it is: What if the black carbon found in air pollution could be transformed into industrial paint? That's exactly what Sbalabs is doing with Kaalink: "repurposing pollution's carbon capture to industrial-grade raw material for [the] printing industry (inks, pigments, paints, etc).

Why it's important: With aftereffects like premature death, bronchitis, heart attacks and aggravated asthma, air pollution is definitely a billion-person problem. This process takes carbon out of the air and turns it into a raw material with thousands of industrial applications -- now that's turning scarcity into abundance!

Spotted by Rajat Gupta

Artificial Intelligence Now Fits in a USB Stick

artificial intelligence usb stick

What it is: Modivius, whose chips power everything from FLIR cameras to DJI drones, has announced the Fathom Neural Compute Stick, a USB drive that enables users to rapidly prototype neural networks. "Fathom contains the Myriad 2 MA2450 VPU paired with 512MB of LPDDR3 RAM," Engadget explains. "The Myriad 2 is the chip found in the previously mentioned DJI and FLIR products... [and] can handle up to 150 gigaFLOPS (150 billion floating-operations per second) while consuming no more than 1.2 watts."

Why it's important: An impressive dematerialization and demonetization of neural networking capabilities. It has the form factor of a normal thumb drive, but Engadget writes that using just this USB drive and a Raspberry Pi, any user can add "advanced computer vision capabilities to something like a GoPro."

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield

SignAloud Gloves Translate Sign Language

signaloud gloves

What it is: University of Washington students Navid Azodi and Thomas Pryor have developed SignAloud gloves, a set of gloves with the power to translate American Sign Language into text or speech. The glove's sensors record movement and transmit gesture data wirelessly to a central computer, which then parses the data and dictates all recognized gestures through a speaker.

Why it's important: How do you think about your customer base when you no longer have language barriers? These lightweight, inconspicuous gloves let sales representatives, customer service agents and teachers communicate with ASL speakers in a natural, seamless way.

Spotted by Greg O'Brien

How Cheap Can Electric Cars Get?

electric cars

What it is: Futurist Ramez Naam has analyzed how cheap electric cars can get, and his predictions are exciting: by 2030, electric vehicles with a 200-mile range will be cheaper than the least expensive car sold in the U.S. in 2015. Naam backs up his claim by citing enabling factors like improvement in batteries and production efficiency increases.

Why it's important: As the materials and technologies behind renewable energy continue to improve, prices will continue to plummet -- which will only accelerate their adoption.

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield

Machine Learning Rivals Human Skills in Cancer Detection

machine learning cancer recognition

What it is: KurzweilAI.net reported two key developments that suggest deep learning algorithms are just as effective as humans at detecting cancer from ultrasound images and in identifying cancer in pathology reports. The first was the development of Samsung Medison's RS80A ultrasound imaging system, which features a built-in deep learning algorithm for breast lesion analysis. The second was a study out of the Regenstreif Institute that found open-source machine learning tools to be as good or better than humans at "extracting crucial meaning from free-text (unstructured) pathology reports and detecting cancer cases."

Why it's important: Shaun Grannis, M.D. describes the importance perfectly: "We have come to the point in time that technology can handle this. A human's time is better spent helping other humans by providing them with better clinical care. Everything -- physician practices, health care systems, health information exchanges, insurers, as well as public health departments -- are awash in oceans of data. How can we hope to make sense of this deluge of data? Humans can't do it -- but computers can."

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield

The Playboy Interview With Ray Kurzweil

ray kurzweil

What it is: Ray Kurzweil's Playboy interview went live this week, in which he illustrates several future scenarios in depth. Topics include the future of sex, the future of education, nanobots in our bloodstream, and how humans are merging with nonbiological technologies.

Why it's important: Ray's lifetime predictions about the future are accurate over 80 percent of the time, so anytime you have a chance to hear or read one, take note. Tracking technology's progress and making proactive business decisions are essential skills in this exponentially growing world.

Spotted by Peter Diamandis

Musk: Tesla's Autopilot is 50 Percent Better at Avoiding Accidents Than You Are

tesla autopilot safety

What it is: Elon Musk recently made a bold safety claim about Tesla's Autopilot function: "The probability of having an accident is 50 percent lower if you have Autopilot on. Even with our first version. So we can see basically what's the average number of kilometers to an accident -- accident defined by airbag deployment. Even with this early version, it's almost twice as good as a person."

Why it's important: One more piece of evidence that autonomous cars will be significantly safer and more efficient than human-driven cars.

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield

What is Abundance Insider?

This email is a briefing of the week's most compelling, abundance-enabling tech developments, curated by Marissa Brassfield in preparation for Abundance 360. Read more about A360 below.

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