Well, I did promise you some Science!* didn’t I?


I’m sure that you have all heard by now that a team of engineers at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited sent an Android smartphone into orbit [1].


There’s actually quite a lot to be said about that since, if the experiment is successful, it will drastically reduce the costs of satellite manufacture and operation, meaning that such dreamy little concepts as coordinated swarms of nanosatellites taking re-focusable photos from orbit will become a rather more realistic possibility… but my point in bringing this up is really to illustrate that your smartphone is a highly efficient little device, potentially capable of replacing hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars worth of research-and-development costs [2].

I don’t know about you, but I drop mine about once a week.


Late last year, the Astonishing Tribe produced an amazing little proof-of-concept video entitled “the Future of Screen Technology”, which you can see below, showcasing some of the possibilities they saw in emergent technologies such as “stretchable screens, transparent screens and e-ink displays, etc.”


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7_mOdi3O5E?wmode=transparent]


It’s lovely, isn’t it?  All the more lovely (to me, at least) because the technology behind most of these applications is already here.  What you’re looking at isn’t the future, it’s the present.




* According to a friend of mine, there are three types of Science:
  1. Science is the rather dry and highly mathematical stuff that actually drives our technological revolutions.  Which isn’t to say that you will ever, ever hear about the guy whose prodigiously clever algorithms permit your touchscreen to operate a split-second faster than it normally might.
  2. Science! refers to jet-packs and rocket-powered zeppelins and suchlike.  But I tend to think that whenever you read about a gadget or a particularly weird piece of science, and think to yourself “that is pretty fucking cool,” you’re probably looking at Science!  Have you ever heard about Lie group E8?
  3. Shampoo Science is a monstrosity perpetrated upon the world by the advertising industry.  The term covers such things as: the good bacteria in your yogurt, the active-oxygen bubbles in your toothpaste, and any moment someone says “here comes the science” [0] in your shampoo commercials.


[2] According to Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, the cost of manufacturing and launching a Satellite is somewhere between $200m and $600m.  The STRaND-1 and its payload reportedly cost less than a family car.
The cost of launch alone is roughly $50m, but then the University of Surrey first hit my radar a few years back with microsatellites that could be deployed from resupply platforms, so their launch costs might be much lower.