It was a restructuring year in certain ways, as emerging technologies for the enterprise gradually moved forward but didn’t result in as many new targets to track as last year. Yet it’s also abundantly clear the largest digital shifts by far are still ahead of us. Here’s how the year ahead is shaping up.

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Enterprise IT in 2017 continues to be highly in tune with consumer technology, but for a change this year we can see a concerted push to shape business-ready options of emerging tech in sizzling new categories. This is especially the case in arenas like blockchain, digital twins, marketing integration solutions, and digital transformation target platforms.

Not too many items fell off this year’s enterprise tech to watch list either, as organizations continue to struggle to adopt the growing raft of relevant new technologies that have steadily arrived on the scene recently.

Consequently, the portfolio of emerging tech that must be managed continues to grow quickly, even as IT spending — and overall tech absorption capacity — is increasing only in the low single digits. This is an untenable proposition that’s putting more and more IT organizations under stress. Most significantly, this is creating service backlogs that are pushing “edge IT” implementation and acquisition — or systems that are not considered mission critical enterprise-wide — out into lines of business for realization as they see fit, as well as fueling so-called shadow IT projects at the departmental level.

As a result, I currently find that IT organizations are seeking novel ways to learn about and adopt emerging tech to ride the exponential curve of digital change. That’s a whole separate conversation however, but one that is becoming urgent as we see the CIO under significant and steady pressure to deliver far more quickly in 2017.

For this year’s list of enterprise tech to watch, I’ve attempted to synthesize data from all available sources, particularly industry trend data. In general, I prefer to include technologies on the list that are expected to grow in the double digits every year for a half decade or more from now. However, I’ll sometimes include important new technology categories if they clearly warrant it based on early importance, even if forecasts aren’t readily available.

As a result, we’ve seen the steady shift from SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) that dominated this list at its inception to one that is more focused on artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, distributed ledgers, immersive digital experiences (AR/VR), edge computing, low code tools, and much more.

That’s not to say that essentially mainstream technology bases like public cloud, cybersecurity, or big data are staid and therefore are about to come off the list. In fact, they are shifting and evolving more now than ever before and should remain at the top of the technologies that most enterprises should be watching very closely today.

Based on my analysis then, here is the short list of enterprise technologies that organizations should be tracking for building skills, assessing their strategic and tactical impact, experimenting with, and subsequently preparing for wider-scale adoption, often as part of a more systematic program of digital transformation.

As in previous years, I’ve also included a horizons list in this year’s tech to watch, which shows technologies that are almost certainly going to be significant in coming years, but should now be relegated primarily to tracking and monitoring, unless it’s impactful for your core business in the near term.

The enterprise technologies to watch in 2017

In roughly clockwise order, here’s the breakdown, with a brief note on why each enterprise technology to watch this year is significant, with data on its outlook if available:

    • Machine learning.
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    • Separating out the topic of machine learning from artificial intelligence is still a tricky task. However, I categorize machine learning as the ability for systems to learn from data in an unsupervised manner and with minimal guidance, while artificial intelligence represents systems that can improve themselves through more abstract reasoning not necessarily dependent on data. It’s tougher to tease apart the forecasts for the two, as they are often lumped together, however one leading report this year, citing the expectation that use of machine learning will become common to support activities in the workplace (a sentiment I very much concur with), expects 43 percent annual growth of the category, which will reach $3.7 billion in revenue by 2021.
    • Contextual computing.
    • The increasing desire to augment productivity and collaboration by supplying information on-demand, usually just as it’s needed and before it’s explicitly asked for, has already become big business. Established industry players such as Apple, Intel, and Nokia are working on and/or offering context-aware APIs already, while a raft of startups is competing to make the early market. Contextual computing is now expected to grow 30 percent annually and reach a market size of a whopping $125 billion by 2023, largely due to widespread use in consumer mobile devices and smart agents.
    • Virtual reality.
    • Still a niche technology despite the support from major industry players such as Samsung with its inexpensive yet high quality Gear VR set and Apple with its new ARKit, virtual reality is poised to grow dramatically for a growing percent of end-user experience as the technology becomes more refined, and especially, less bulky and intrusive. While just a small half billion dollar market today, virtual reality is expected to grow at the blistering pace of 133 percent a year on average, becoming a $35 billion industry by 2021.
    • 3D and 4D printing.
    • While evolving in fits and starts, 3D printing has already become important to a wide range of industries, from aerospace and energy to electronics and even culinary uses. 3D printing is remaking the logistics industry as well by moving manufacturing directly to the point of use and making it on-demand. 3D printing will become a significant industry quite soon, growing by 26 percent annually through 2023 and becoming a $33 billion market. 4D printing, which are objects whose shapes can be changed over time, is a much smaller industry but as a result is growing quickly at 39 percent a year through 2022, where it will likely be a $100 million plus market.
    • 5G wireless.
    • Few mobile technologies are as anticipated as 5G, the next generation of wireless telecommunications standards and infrastructure, which will bring revolutionary bandwidth increases (potentially up to 1GB per second in some cases) and enable new high value business scenarios including immersive virtual reality telepresence, 4K/8K video streaming, and other very high bandwidth uses. While still not expected to commercialize until at least 2019, 5G is widely expected to impact numerous industries and markets, despite real challenges in beaming millimeter waves significant distances, fueling futuristic experimental 5G projects like Google Skybender. 5G spending is expected to grow by 70 percent a year and reach at least $28 billion a year in revenue by 2025.
    • Real-time stream processing and analytics.
    • Best exemplified by software and cloud services like Apache Spark and Amazon Kinesis, the Internet of Things revolution and rich media in general is fueling the need to process and analyze massive amounts of data without any delay — both event metadata and the data itself — that flows in from services and devices on the edge of the network. While not quite the white hot item it was last year, stream processing remains a critical technology for data-driven companies. Stream processing and analytics is expected to grow 33 percent a year through 2025.
    • Wearable IT.
    • The market for enterprise wearables remains quite small and is still limited to niche applications like corporate wellness, hands-free scenarios, situational customer/workforce experiences (typically location-based or rapid notifications), and just-in-time decision making. Yet this belies the anticipated growth of the category, which is expected to expand by over 75 percent a year and become an industry $12 billion in size by 2021.
    • Mobile payments.
    • With Apple Pay’s steady expansion, the rise of Samsung Pay, and the use of mobile devices for payments across the developed and developing world, the smart device is rapidly becoming the wallet of the future. Enterprises must become ready to access these revenue streams and watch the evolution of the industry closely, as revenue flows move to digital channels not controlled as much by traditional financial institutions. Mobile payments are currently expected to grow by 20 percent a year globally and become a $1.7 trillion dollar industry by 2022.
    • Containers.
    • Most well known by their effective bringing to market and popularization by Docker, containers remain a leading on ramp and direct pathway to both cloud computing as well as a more modern and effective model for the design, management, governance, and optimization of IT applications. Considered a contemporary method to architect and operate cloud software today, containers are on the short list of models most organizations are seriously considering for go-forward application models, either buy or build. The growth picture tells the story here with a 40 percent annual growth rate and $2.6 billion market industry size for container-as-a-service by 2020.
    • Mobile business apps.
    • Stubbornly one of the most challenging aspects of enterprise IT, good mobile apps for both internal and external customers remains a challenge for the average organization, yet is critical for the success of their digital experiences. Why are mobile apps so hard? A confluence of reasons: The two main mobile platforms (iOS and Android) are large and complex, and they are still fairly unfamiliar to most of IT, while mobile application management issues, the proliferation of devices and form factors, and security issues round out the barriers to good mobile apps. Mobile apps are expected to grow by 14 percent a year and reach $100 billion in revenue yearly by 2022, yet the enterprise component of that is likely to remain small. Leading organizations can seize opportunity in 2017 and beyond with first mover advantage by providing the mobile experiences their stakeholders want.
    • On-demand, as-a-service, and software-defined everything.
    • In short, everything in the IT business — from security, storage, networking, computing, and applications — is become software-defined and packaged as an on-demand service. While this is nothing new, it can actually be alarming to find that most modern IT offerings want to meter everything to you, and you can no longer purchase it and pay maintenance. This is distressing enough that I’ve had more than one CIO complain to me that it feels like buying all their IT over again every year, an expectation that will have to be managed by vendors. There are so many projections in this space that I’ll just select one overall forecast of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS as a whole, which is expected to become a $390 billion industry in just 2.5 years, by 2020.
    • Workplace hubs.
    • There is growing interest in streamlining and making the workplace more efficient and centralized. Many of the latest tools — from Slack and Microsoft Teams to IBM Connections (with AppSpokes) and Cisco Spark — are creating powerful new workplace hubs that allow systems of record and systems of engagement to come together more effectively into a consistent and contextual digital workplace, complete with integrated apps. How big is this trend so far? It’s challenging to estimate as there is no dedicated forecasting in this category yet. However, I am included it as a clear industry trend based on the inclusion of these capabilities in most of the latest enterprise collaboration offerings.
    • Edge/fog computing. As Internet of Things and other computing form factors that move data gathering out to the far-flung sides of the network grow in scale and data volume, there has emerged a growing need to put more intelligent processing at the edge of the network, rather than transporting it across the cloud. Instead of a cross-trend to the cloud, edge computing (sometime called fog computing) complements it by putting computing power in cloud-friendly technology packages where it makes the most sense for cost and performance reasons. Edge computing will grow by 35 percent annually through 2023, when it will become a $34 billion industry.
    • Adaptive cybersecurity.
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    • Perhaps the real top priority of many CIOs, cybersecurity has assumed a preeminent place in IT strategy and investment, despite being almost exclusively a cost center that keeps the business running and customers safe. Adaptive cybersecurity, which uses a combination of artificial intelligence and other methods to dynamically shift tactics and detect/remove threats as quickly as possible, is among the very forefront of security methods. Adaptive cybersecurity will grow by 15 percent a year and will become a $7 billion industry by 2021.
    • Team collaboration.
    • Smaller scale collaboration has become very popular in the last few years, augmenting the big shift toward enterprise-scale collaboration five years ago or so. The rise of nimbler, more team based tools like Slack has been well documented, as have the dozens of me-too competitors. At the same time, many applications have adopted chat tools within them and consumer services like WhatsApp are used for business on a wide basis. Enterprises have been forced to realize multi-layered collaboration strategies to cope. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the resurgence of team collaboration is here to stay. Overall, the global cloud collaboration market (where the vast majority of team collaboration is offered today) is growing at 13 percent a year and will be a $38 billion industry by 2020.
    • Marketing integration.
    • One of the worst-kept secrets of the marketing technology industry is that almost none of it fits together without manual integration, despite a rapidly expanding multichannel world where this is far-and-away the largest problem that’s currently reported by brands. Yet as I explored recently in the struggles of companies to gain a single view of the customer, the explosion of marketing solutions is making the problem worse, not better. Yet there is no actual category of marketing integration tools, though a good number of solutions apply at least to some of the issue. There will be volumes written about the mismatch between marketing technology availability and actual customer needs today, but we can use marketing automation as a related “stand-in” industry that does some “martech” integration, which will grow at 11 percent a year and be an $8 billion industry by 2025.
    • Digital twins.
    • One of the new entrants to the main list this year, digital twins are software-based replica of business assets, processes, and systems — especially ones based on IoT — that can be used for various purposes such as modeling, forecasting, and business transformation and has been trumpeted prominently by market leaders like GE as a key to successful digital transition. Organizations can increase predictability, lower risk, and test innovation much more quickly using their digital twins. As a very new enterprise concept, there is no publicly available market forecast yet for digital twins, but Gartner has prominently included it in its top 10 strategic tech trends for 2017.
    • Multichannel digital experience.
    • As I explored in the marketing integration pieces, creating a cohesive experience across multiple digital channels (mobile, social, devices, apps, etc.) remains a top challenge for organizations, and one that goes well beyond marketing. Often known as the “omnichannel” problem, the issue is that new digital channels emerge and become important far faster than the response windows of digital experience teams. Digital experience capabilities help outsource the solution to this channel fragmentation issue. Also known as customer experience management (CEM), though I don’t use the term because customer is a misnomer as the digital experience must be managed alike for customers, prospects, suppliers, partners, and the workforce. The digital experience industry will grow by 21 percent a year and become a $13 billion industry by 2021.
    • Microservices.
    • A more refined and fine-grained way to architect modern IT, microservices have gained the upper hand as the leading way to open up data and systems for use and reuse by other parts of the business and for open APIs to 3rd party suppliers and developers. As a key part of the strategic digital ecosystem story, microservices will grow at a reported 16 percent a year and be a $10 billion industry within a few years.
    • Digital transformation target platforms.
    • These are capabilities built on top of enterprise cloud stacks from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google Cloud that provide patterns, templates, industry accelerators, emerging tech capabilities like blockchain and IoT in business solution frameworks, to provide a proven path through which to implement an enterprise-scale digital transformation. One recent notable example of this product category is SAP Leonardo. I’ll be posting my findings on other top solutions soon. There is no market estimate yet of this brand new digital category.
    • Digital learning.
    • Retiring MOOCs and global solution networks as explicit entrants from last year’s list, which are still important categories, but subsumed into this larger category, digital learning — essential to staff the modern digital enterprise with talent — is shifting to more sophisticated models, from microlearning and adaptive learning systems, even as community-based models remain as important and fast-growing as ever. The overall smart learning market is a juggernaut, as education is generally, and will grow at 25 percent yearly to be a $584 billion industry by 2021.
    • Artificial intelligence.
    • Cognitive systems have become powerful enough to begin cracking some of our most challenging business issues and is at the top of venture capital, acquisition, and enterprise IT priority lists of many organizations. The industry is expected to grow at a 52 percent annual pace and be a $36 billion market by 2025.
    • Customer journey management.
    • Using data to dynamically provide the best quality, adaptive, and personalized customer experience across an organization’s various silos (marketing, sales, operations, customer care, etc.) is the next and more strategic progression of multichannel digital experience. While still allocated to the customer experience management function, it’s a separate concern that can and is often dealt with separately. Again, this is an emerging product category, but in the sense it realizes an effective data-driven customer experience, it will be a 14 percent year-over-year growth category that will turn into a $12 billion enterprise industry by 2023.
    • Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE.)
    • As just about everything manufactured object in the world — and quite a few non-manufactured objects which will be instrumented with sensors — is becoming pervasively connected, the number of devices on our networks is set to grow by many orders of magnitude. This creates large business opportunities for organizations ready to capitalize on the global streams of data, analysis, and two-way ability to control and converse that IoT represents. IoE is even more strategic and has become a catch-all phrase that describes adding both connectivity and intelligence to practically every device and connected scenario in order to give them useful smart functions. IoT numbers almost always impress due to their scale. The IoT market will be $267 billion size by 2020, with at least a 20-percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at every level of the IoT stack. For its part, IoE is estimated to become a vast $7 trillion industry through a 16 percent growth rate, due to so much of the connected computing universe being attributable to it.
    • Blockchain and distributed ledgers.
    • A complex yet historic amalgam of network, cyrptopgraphy, and database technologies, blockchain and decentralized record systems like it are making big waves in industries like healthcare, insurance, and especially finance, given blockchain’s roots in Bitcoin. While many organizations are grappling with the implications of decentralized, open record keeping to their business models, the writing is on the wall: Most legacy transaction logging systems that are closed and proprietary are likely nearing the end of their useful lifetime. Blockchain and related models for digital ledgers are expected to grow at a 58 percent annual rate and create a $5.4 billion dollar market by 2023.
    • Social business.
    • Long a combined technology and mindset approach to create more connected and effective communities and organizations, social business remains the most strategic set of ideas and tools to create modern organizations using new communications and collaboration methods. Along the way, the approach has logged hard data on its benefits. While the term itself is aging out, the practice remains at at all time high in organizations and is growing steadily at a 26 percent annual rate through platforms like enterprise social networks and social business analytics.
    • Open APIs.
    • Part and parcel with the microservices discussion, which it now has a lot of overlap with, open APIs have come of age to open up IT for reuse and remixing within organizations and especially out to developer communities and business partners. I’ve been sanguine about this approach for a decade and it’s finally matured into a major industry. While APIs represent many types of technologies and approaches, one key barometer is API management platforms, which will be a $3.4 billion market by 2023 via a 33 percent annual growth rate.
  • Collaborative economy.
  • Also known as the sharing economy, the approach for using the Web as a platform to exchange goods and services more directly and democratically has had its up and downs over the years. Although the implications of the collaborative economy, originally coined by Jeremiah Owyang, go to the very heart of business models and have disrupted entire industries from hospitality to transportation, its proven a bit harder a model to repeatably delivery on that some originally thought, even though my opinion is that most industries have yet to feel the brunt of it. That said, respected organizations like the Brookings Institute have pegged the sharing economy at a whopping $335 billion in yearly revenue by 2025. Consequently, it very much belongs as a core, though existentially challenging, technology on this list again this year.

The upshot is that there are a great many technologies on the enterprise tech to watch list, an all-time high in fact, never mind the horizon list, which is poised to be even more disruptive in many cases. As I pointed out a few years ago, technology cycles are coming more and more quickly and fixed, traditional strategic planning cannot take them into account adequately.

For most organizations, this will mean all new ways of thinking about and managing the technology adoption life cycle. Fortunately, we have fresh choices and new ways of activating forces for change at scale that do seem to be able to better accommodate the size and scope of the challenge at hand. In the meantime, we live in very exciting times indeed, even though it’s still literally just the dawn of digital technology in the enterprise.

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Additional reading

Henry Sapiecha

Albert-Einstein-at blackboard image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

Rumors are rippling through the science world that physicists may have detected gravitational waves, a key element of Einstein’s theory which if confirmed would be one of the biggest discoveries of our time.

There has been no announcement, no peer review or publication of the findings—all typically important steps in the process of releasing reliable and verifiable scientific research.

Instead, a message on Twitter from an Arizona State University cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss, has sparked a firestorm of speculation and excitement.

Krauss does not work with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, or LIGO, which is searching for ripples in the fabric of space and .

But he tweeted on Monday about the apparent shoring up of rumor he’d heard some months ago, that LIGO scientists were writing up a paper on gravitational waves they had discovered using US-based detectors.

“My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting,” Krauss tweeted.

His message has since between retweeted 1,800 times.

If gravitational waves have been spotted, it would confirm a final missing piece in what Albert Einstein predicted a century ago in his theory of general relativity.

The discovery would open a new window on the universe by showing scientists for the first time that  exist, in places such as the edge of black holes at the beginning of time, filling in a major gap in our understanding of how the universe was born.

A team of scientists on a project called BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) announced in 2014 that they had discovered these very ripples in space time, but soon admitted that their findings may have been just galactic dust.

A spokeswoman for the LIGO collaboration, Gabriela Gonzalez, was quoted in The Guardian as saying there is no announcement for now.

“The LIGO instruments are still taking data today, and it takes us time to analyze, interpret and review results, so we don’t have any results to share yet,” said Gonzalez, professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University.

“We take pride in reviewing our results carefully before submitting them for publication—and for important results, we plan to ask for our papers to be peer-reviewed before we announce the results—that takes time too!”

Other observers pointed out that any supposed detection may be a simple practice run for the science teams, not a real discovery.

“Caveat earlier mentioned: they have engineering runs with blind signals inserted that mimic discoveries. Am told this isn’t one,” Krauss tweeted.

But science enthusiasts may have to wait awhile longer to get all the details.

The LIGO team’s first run of data ends Tuesday, January 12.

“We expect to have news on the run results in the next few months,” Gonzalez was quoted as saying by New Scientist magazine.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Airwriting the screen shows the tracking of Christoph Amma's hand gestures, captured by the wristband image www.sciencearticlesonline.com

Airwriting: the screen shows the tracking of Christoph Amma’s hand gestures, captured by the wristband. Photo: Markus Breig, KIT

The days of reaching for a notepad, phone or tablet in the middle of the night to scrawl down a note to yourself might soon be over thanks to a system that translates what you write in the air into editable text.

Called Airwriting, it was developed at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and puts sensors that ‘read’ handwriting gestures into a wearable wristband.

“We envision it being a perfect complement for speech and gesture recognition in future wearable computer systems,” said lead developer Christoph Amma, of KIT’s Cognitive Systems Lab.

It works using similar technology already in smartphones such as acceleration sensors and gyroscopes. They plot an accurate and changing picture of where your hand is in space and report back to a database that contains a vocabulary.

Previous approaches to arrive at editable text used single gesture recognition, but Airwriting stores a statistical model of the characteristic signal pattern for every letter of the alphabet. The system promises a person-independent word error rate of 11 per cent and a person-dependent rate (where it learns your particular writing style) of only 3 per cent.

Originally encased in a glove, Airwriting was the recipient of a Google Faculty Research Award worth US$81,000 in early 2013. The technology has since been reduced in size and now fits into a single wristband, positioning it comfortably into the burgeoning wearables sector.

Currently the system processes movements at approximately .83 seconds per character, but faster processing and smaller devices promise performance gains, the researchers said.

It’s conceivable Airwriting could be packed into a smart watch or ring, the vocabulary greatly expanded by accessing machine learning technologies that access and process language remotely, in the cloud.

If successful, Airwriting could be jumping on what’s shaping up to be a very lucrative gravy train in which global names have invested heavily.

Samsung took an early lead with its Gear line of smart watches which connect to an Android smartphone, while Google has had some success in working with developers to come up with applications for its wearable specs, Google Glass.

Apple is widely expected to be launching the so-called ‘iWatch’ – a wearable device many think will be the company’s first challenge to Gear, Google Glass and fitness bands like Jawbone and Fit.

Deloitte predicts 10 million wearable devices will be sold this year, while Juniper Research predicts the industry will be worth $19 billion by 2018.

A system to write in the air was suggested back in 2013, when a paper presented to an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conference by the South China University of Technology proposed a system based on Microsoft’s gesture control camera system Kinect.

But Airwriting needs no external sensor, and Amma says the system also circumvents the problems that can affect speech input.

“It’s unaffected by environment noise and bystanders aren’t distracted – nor can they eavesdrop on what was said.”

Airwriting gained interest at CeBIT Germany 2014 and Amma said his team was talking with several companies from different sectors about further research and applications.

Henry Sapiecha

DIAMONDS GIVE SIGHT TO THE BLIND SAY AUSTRALIAN SCIENTISTS

Scientists in Australia are using diamonds to develop one of the world’s most advanced bionic eyes.

Nine News reports that Australian scientists are using artificial diamonds to coat a high acuity 256-electrode prototype in order to better enhance its performance.
TNS Diamonds and Watches Inc.

The bionic eye is encased in a diamond box which prevents moisture from infiltrating the device as well as harmful materials from contaminating the user’s body.

Dr Hamish Meffin of research center NICTA says that diamond is the ideal encapsulation material for the bionic device because of its durability and lack of chemical reactivity, which make it unlikely to trigger an adverse reaction in patients.

The 256-electrode device is the prototype for a far more sophisticated 1024-electrode version which will enable users to see via the connection of the electrodes to a minute three-by-three millimeter electronic chip inserted into the device.

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The prototype is being developed by Bionic Vision Australia and will undergo safety tests over the next year.

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WORLDS LARGEST TELESCOPE TO BE SHARED BETWEEN AUSTRALIA & STH AFRICA

Australia and South Africa are to share the world’s biggest telescope – the Square Kilometre Array.

After an intense six-year battle between the two bidding nations, a split-site solution for the giant radio telescope has been reached, with antennas to be built in both countries.

The decision was made on Friday night at a meeting in Amsterdam of the board of directors of the international  SKA Organisation overseeing the telescope’s construction.

It had been feared Australia would miss out, after an independent scientific panel in February narrowly recommended South Africa as the preferred site.

To be one of the great scientific projects of the 21st century, the array  will be so sensitive it could detect an aircraft radar on a planet 50 light years away.

Folklore, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends from Around the World

It will be able to look back to the dark ages just after the Big Bang, and could help answer some of the big question of the cosmos, such as whether we are alone, and the nature of mysterious dark energy and dark matter.

Due to be fully operational by 2024, the internationally funded project will provide a significant  economic boost to both countries, particularly in the construction, engineering and IT sectors.

In a majority determination it was decided that most of the dishes that will comprise the array in the first phase will be built in South Africa and combined with a 64-dish telescope planned  there called MeerKAT.

More SKA dishes will be added to a 36-dish telescope almost completed in Australia called the Australian SKA Pathfinder.

A second set of mid-frequency antennae will be built in South Africa and a third set of low frequency antenna will be built in Australia.

Your Guide To Travelling Australia
Your Guide To Travelling Australia

The core Australian site is in the remote shire of Murchison, in Western Australia, a radio-quiet zone about 300 kilometres north-east of Geraldton which has only about 100 people in an area larger than Holland.

In South Africa, it is in the Karoo desert in the Northern Cape.
Folklore, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends from Around the World

The decision to share the telescope, which will have three types of antennas including 3000 dishes, was made by five of the organisation’s eight member nations – Italy, the Netherlands, Britain, Canada and China.

The concept of building a mega-telescope with a square kilometre of collecting area was proposed 20 years ago.
Australia and South Africa were shortlisted as potential hosts in 2006.

In March, the Herald broke the story that the independent scientific panel had recommended South Africa.

However a final decision was delayed while a new scientific working group investigated the possibility of an ‘‘inclusive approach’’ that would ‘‘maximise the value from the investments made by both countries’’.

On Friday, before the decision to share the telescope was made, the Minister of Science, Chris Evans, said the Australian government had ‘‘continued to argue Australia’s case right up to the 11th hour’

FingerPrint Door Locks

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POINT-AIM-SHOOT-WE KNOW YOUR NAME BECAUSE OF YOUR SKIN TYPE ETC

Online shopping and advertising already do it, take information based on the pages or products that a person had looked at and provide advertisements, or links to other products that may also interest that person.

In just a few years shops could use facial recognition technology to do the same.

A Perth professor is working on research that he hopes could play a role in creating this technology.

Associate Professor Ajmal Mian from the University of Western Australia first became interested in facial recognition technology when doing his PHD which he completed in 2006.

Since then he has continued to research how to use satellite technology to identify facial features that lie under the skin.

It is believed that a dot-sized part of a face may soon be all that is needed to identify a person.

Professor Mian said by incorporating numerous images of a person from different angles into a system, these could possibly be used to later identify that person by just a small section of their face.

He said while facial recognition technology was not new, being able to identify someone from just a small part of their face meant recognition could be done faster and easier.

“To be more useful it has to not be intrusive, so you don’t need to come in contact with it like fingerprinting and the ultimate is to do it without people noticing it’s happening, without them having to stop and look at a camera,” Professor Mian said.

“I am trying to dig out more accurate techniques and find different algorithms to be able to identify people more easily.”

He said a shop may use the technology to maintain a customer database.

“We know security cameras are there but if shops say you need to get fingerprinted, people are not going to want to do that,” Professor Mian said.

He said the technology may not necessarily associate people by their names.

“They may group you by different charts, they don’t necessarily have to attach a name to it, each time you come in they see what you buy, if customer A buys item such-and-such they are most likely to buy item such-and-such, like on Amazon,” he said.

Mr Mian said it was up to marketing staff as to how the information was used.

He said multi-spectral imaging can be used to measure light reflected off a face at hundreds of discrete wavelengths in the visible spectrum and beyond.

This meant that the technology being worked on would be able to recognise a person despite their different facial expressions.

Professor Mian said his research may also be able to detect people who have used cosmetic surgery to alter their looks.

He said he did not expect the technology to be expensive once created.

“Once the algorithm is developed it won’t be expensive, it is the research which is the expensive part, all you will need is a few cameras.”

“It’ll start up in shops that spend a lot of money on customer care and marketing and others will follow.”

He admitted that there would be some concerns about privacy.

“There’s always a concern about security and privacy and there’s always a trade off, it will be a discussion of topic forever,” Professor Mian said.

He said the kind of facial recognition technology he envisioned could be used in security and if used at airports could greatly improve the identification process at the immigration sections of airports.

Professor Mian was also looking into the possibility of applying it to psychology and also identifying whether people had certain syndromes.

Associate Professor Mian is the only West Australian to have won the Australasian Distinguished Dissertation Award from The Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia.

He has also won two prestigious national fellowships: the Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Australian Research Fellowship.

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GRAPHENE THE WONDER ‘WOMAN’

Ever since University of Manchester scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov first isolated flakes of graphene in 2004 using that most high-tech pieces of equipment – adhesive tape – the one-atom sheet of carbon has continued to astound researchers with its remarkable properties. Now Professor Sir Andre Geim, (he’s now not only a Nobel Prize winner but also a Knight Bachelor), has led a team that has added superpermeability with respect to water to graphene’s ever lengthening list of extraordinary characteristics.

Graphene has already proven to be the thinnest known material in the universe, strongest material ever measured, the best-known conductor of heat and electricity, and the stiffest known material, while also the most ductile. But it seems the two-dimensional lattice of carbon atoms just can’t stop showing off.

Stacking membranes of a chemical derivative of graphene called graphene oxide, which is a graphene sheet randomly covered with other molecules such as hydroxyl groups OH-, scientists at the University of Manchester created laminates that were hundreds of times thinner than a human hair but remained strong, flexible and were easy to handle.

When the team sealed a metal container using this film, they say that even the most sensitive equipment was unable to detect air or any other gas, including helium, leaking through. The team then tried the same thing with water and, to their surprise, found that it evaporated and diffused through the graphene-oxide membranes as if they weren’t even there. The evaporation rate was the same whether the container was sealed or completely open.

“Graphene oxide sheets arrange in such a way that between them there is room for exactly one layer of water molecules. They arrange themselves in one molecule thick sheets of ice which slide along the graphene surface with practically no friction, explains Dr Rahul Nair, who was leading the experimental work. “If another atom or molecule tries the same trick, it finds that graphene capillaries either shrink in low humidity or get clogged with water molecules.”

Professor Geim added, “Helium gas is hard to stop. It slowly leaks even through a millimetre -thick window glass but our ultra-thin films completely block it. At the same time, water evaporates through them unimpeded. Materials cannot behave any stranger. You cannot help wondering what else graphene has in store for us.”

Although graphene’s superpermeability to water makes it suitable for situations where water needs to be removed from a mixture without removing the other ingredients, the researchers don’t offer ideas for any immediate applications that could take advantage of this property. However, they did seal a bottle of vodka with the membranes and found that the distilled solution did indeed become stronger over time. But they don’t foresee graphene being used in distilleries.

However, Professor Geim adds, “the properties are so unusual that it is hard to imagine that they cannot find some use in the design of filtration, separation or barrier membranes and for selective removal of water.”

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Check this out here as MakerBot unveils its new 3D printer, the Replicator


The folks at MakerBot Industries have not exactly been resting on their laurels since causing a stir at CES last year with the Thing-o-Matic 3D printer. Even though the original small object creation device would still see the jaws of most people dropping in wonder, the company has now unveiled a new model at CES 2012 called the Replicator that is not only capable of fabricating much bigger objects than its predecessor, but can also do so in two colors at the same time.

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AS sparkling bling goes, it doesn’t get bigger.

DIAMONDS IN THE SKY

Australian astronomers have discovered a planet they think is made of diamond.

The galactic gem could be as large as 60,000 kilometres across – five times the diameter of Earth.

The "diamond planet" orbiting a pulsar, centre, of this image. The orbit is represented by the dashed line. The blue lines represent the radio signal from the pulsar.The “diamond planet” orbiting a pulsar, centre, of this image. The orbit is represented by the dashed line. The blue lines represent the radio signal from the pulsar. Illustration: Swinburne University 

It is orbiting a tiny, dead, spinning star, called a pulsar, about 4000 light years away in the Milky Way.

CSIRO astronomer Michael Keith said the diamond planet was likely to be very hot and glowing white.

“It would probably look very pretty,” he said.

An international team, led by Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, found the exotic object using telescopes including the radio telescope at Parkes. They were searching for pulsars – the lighthouses of the universe – which emit beams of radio waves as they spin rapidly.

They discovered a pulsar which is only about 20 kilometres across and rotating extremely fast – 175 times every second.

Slight variations in its pulse alerted the astronomers to the presence of the companion planet, which orbits the pulsar every two hours and 10 minutes. Dr Keith said the planet appeared to have been a massive star that lost more than 99 per cent of its mass.

Its density made it likely it comprise mostly of carbon atoms, crushed together in a crystalline structure “very similar to diamond.”

He joked that it would be priceless: “I recently got engaged so I know how much diamonds cost.”

Team member Willem van Straten said they hoped the planet was glowing white, because that would make it easier to see light from it using a telescope. The team was searching for millisecond pulsars because they were like accurate “clocks” whose regularity could be used to detect the presence of gravitational waves – theoretical ripples in space time thought to be generated by cosmic events such as two black holes colliding.

The “holy grail” would be to find a pulsar orbiting a black hole, to see if Einstein’s general theory of relativity still holds in an extremely strong gravity field, he said. “You could study space and time in the vicinity of the black hole with a lot of precision.”

Somewhat unromantically the pulsar, with its diamond companion, is named PSR J1719-1438

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NEW AERO GEL SUBSTANCE IS KNOWN AS FROZEN SMOKE

Researchers have created a new aerogel that boasts amazing strength and an incredibly large surface area. Nicknamed ‘frozen smoke’ due to its translucent appearance, aerogels are manufactured materials derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas, resulting in a material renowned as the world’s lightest solid material. The new so-called “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” could be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components.

Although aerogels have been fabricated from silica, metal oxides, polymers, and carbon-based materials and are already used in thermal insulation in windows and buildings, tennis racquets, sponges to clean up oil spills, and other products, few scientists have succeeded in making aerogels from carbon nanotubes.

The researchers were able to succeed where so many before them had failed using a wet gel of well-dispersed pristine MWCNTs. After removing the liquid component from the MWCNT wet gel, they were able to create the lightest ever free-standing MWCNT aerogel monolith with a density of 4 mg/cm3.

MWCNT aerogels infused with a plastic material are flexible, like a spring that can be stretched thousands of times, and if the nanotubes in a one-ounce cube were unraveled and placed side-to-side and end-to-end, they would carpet three football fields. The MWCNT aerogels are also excellent conductors of electricity, which is what makes them ideal for sensing applications and offers great potential for their use in electronics components.

A report describing the process for making MWCNT aerogels and tests to determine their properties appears in ACS Nano.

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