August 01, 2015

Thinfilm has deal for 1.3 billion units of printed smart memory tags per year and can roll to roll print one kilometer of memory

At the 8-11 minute portion of this video, there is discussion that Thinfilm Norway has had printed memory for a while. The memory only has 20 bits of memory in the square centimeter or so of space. This is enough to count to one million or so. Now they have a deal with Xerox to apply these counters to Xerox ink cartridges so that you will know exactly when to replace the cartridge. Each one costs less than one dollar. The volume licensing deal from Xerox likekly will be a penny or a few pennies per cartridge.

High end electronics still require silicon electronics. Low end electronics that you want cheap, large area and everywhere then you want to use printed electronics.

Two important trends are coming together—the advent of low-cost, disposable electronics and the proliferation of near field communication (NFC) protocols, particularly in smart devices.

Thinfilm is producing electronics in a fundamentally new way, using roll-to-roll printing. This allows electronic labels that offer a cost-per-function untouchable by any other technology. Rather than $15+ for integrated systems, Thinfilm will be able to produce electronic labels with memory, sensing, display, and/or wireless communications for tens of cents. We are currently producing memory labels on a high-volume, roll-to-roll process, producing electronics by the kilometer. We have also shown our proof-of-concept for the first integrated systems, Thinfilm’s temperature-sensing label, combining sensing, data storage, and display. With over a decade and a half of R&D behind us, printed electronics has come of age.

Though many of Thinfilm’s initial electronic labels will be stand-alone (such as a temperature indicator on a package), an even greater number will be readable via close-proximity wireless communications. One example is reading by NFC-enabled devices such as smart phones. Other systems, though, will use proprietary protocols to establish product differentiation.

The Internet of Things is accelerating, and with cheap, disposable electronics, the applications are numerous. Temperature-sensing devices able to electronically record and communicate min/max temperatures at 1/10th the price of silicon alternatives. Sensors that can record exposure to light, humidity, and even toxic gases. Dynamic pricing displays that automatically discount a product after a certain period of time, or electronic shelf labels that are lightweight, flexible, and disposable. One-time-use medical devices such as a blood oxygen sensor for use in home care. Memory devices that allow authentication of a branded refill in consumer packaged goods.

Smart memory on a plastic card

Sheet of NFC barcode chips

“Smart Wine Bottle” using Printed Electronics to stop counterfeiting of millions of bottles wine and leading to internet of everything

Thin Film Electronics ASA (Thinfilm), a global leader in the development of printed electronics and smart systems, today announced a partnership with the G World Group (G World), a global authentication company specializing in transparency and accountability solutions. The partnership will unveil the industry’s first “smart wine bottle” built using printed electronics technology at GSMA’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2015

This “smart wine bottle” will feature Thinfilm’s patent-pending NFC OpenSense™ tags and G World’s globally patented SAMSCAN process, providing a compelling choice to global consumers for the purchase of authentic produce and consumables while delivering significant anti-counterfeit protocols for the agricultural and beverage industries. The G World system will also deliver on the new Free Trade Agreement initiatives between Australia and China, facilitating trade between the two countries by providing a transparent and accountable system for producers, governments and consumers.

Following MWC, G World and Thinfilm will execute a live field trial in collaboration with Ferngrove Wine Group, a Chinese-owned, Western Australia premium wine company. Ferngrove is a major supplier of five-star red wine to the APAC region and exports more than 600,000 bottles annually to China alone. With more than 50 designated retail outlets throughout China, Ferngrove provides a direct line of sight from the vineyard to the Chinese consumer.

G World has placed a 7-figure unit order for NFC OpenSense™ tags as part of the agreement with Thinfilm and in conjunction with the planned Ferngrove field trial.

Smart label talks to your smartphone and provide information. If the bottle was opened. It can direct you to marketing information. It can authenticate the bottle

Thinfilm specializes in printing electronics. They produce the only commercial printed rewritable memory, and are now adding additional functionality to our product line, including logic, sensing, display, and wireless communication.

Their smart devices with temperature sensing and other features sell for $1-2 each depending upon volume. You can pack one into a shipping container to know if the product was exposed to temperatures outside of the acceptable range. They sell a lot of devices for anti-theft security (ie fashion and clothes retail).

Printed electronics technology, real-time sensing capability, and near-field communication (NFC) functionality.

Thinfilm is a Norway-based company focused on expanding the traditional Internet of Things into a much broader Internet of Everything using the benefits of printed electronics. Thinfilm’s NFC Barcode and Smart Label product platforms use 13.56MHz Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to communicate from Thinfilm labels (placed on everyday things, at the item level rather than the box/palette/case level) to NFC capable devices, including smartphones and industrial readers. The 128-bit NFC Barcode is manufactured on Thinfilm’s printed-dopant polysilicon (PDPS) manufacturing platform, which enables high-performance transistors capable of handling wireless communication and NFC frequencies and data rates. The payload consists of a mix of fixed ID ROM bits, which cannot be electrically modified for security purposes, and dynamic bits that can the assigned to sensors. Thinfilm recently announced OpenSense technology, which transmits information about the state of a seal (factory sealed or previously opened) to a smartphone. This is being demonstrated in Barcelona in the form of a Johnnie Walker whisky Smart Bottle, which can communicate a unique identification number and dynamic sensing data to a smartphone. The OpenSense technology can lead to improved consumer engagement and can be used to verify authenticity of the underlying product while the seal is still intact. Next, Thinfilm’s temperature sensing Smart Labels integrate batteries, sensing circuitry, optional visual printed electrochromic displays, and NFC wireless transmission function into a single self-contained smart sensing system. These systems use NFC to tell a smartphone or other compatible device whether a food or pharmaceutical shipment stayed within specified temperature limits or whether it became too hot or too cold during transport. That simple data can help caretakers, retailers, and supply chain partners to make smart decisions by providing a real time indication of the temperature behavior (within limits vs. exceeded limits), and the big data pushed to the cloud with every interaction will help brand owners and others to make smarter business decisions based on trends captured by thousands or even millions of units active at any point in time

Argentina buying 18 Israeli Kfir Fighter Planes

Argentina is negotiating the purchase of a batch of Israel Aerospace Industries Kfir Block 60 fighters.

The Block 60 is the latest upgraded version of the Kfir, which was used by the Israeli air force between 1975 and 1994. Some aircraft are being offered with General Electric J79 engines with zero hours following a complete overhaul, while other examples would need to have this work performed after their powerplant reaches 1,600 flight hours.

The upgraded fighter will carry an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 active electronically scanned array radar, which can operate in simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-surface modes and is capable of tracking up to 64 targets. Its open architecture design will also allow the customer to integrate other systems, industry sources say. Argentina could pursue a deal to acquire 18 of the combat aircraft from Israel.

There are currently a combined 36 Kfirs in operational use with the air forces of Colombia (pictured), Ecuador and Sri Lanka.

China's FC-1 Xiaolong, a multirole fighter jointly developed by China and Pakistan also known as the JF-17 Thunder, had a lower price but China would not provide anti-ship missiles because of pressure from the UK.

The UK imported $26 billion of goods from China in 2014 Argentina imported $10.4 billion from China in 2014.

Facebook getting close to 10 gigabit per second internet delivered from solar powered drones with 737 wingspan

Facebook successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That's ten times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away. Facebook's Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down Internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.

Aquila is "a very lightweight, very large wingspan aircraft capable of flying above normal airliners, above 60,000 feet, for up to three months at a time," Andy Cox, engineering lead for the Facebook aviation team

China building 40000 ton super large amphibious assault ship similar to USA Wasp Class helicopter carriers

To compete against the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, China is planning to build a new class of amphibious assault ship with a displacement of 40,000 tons, according to Kanwa Defense Review, a Canada-based Chinese-language military magazine.

China displayed the model of its 40,000-ton super large amphibious assault ship, known as M1, during the Sixth International Offshore Engineering Technology and Equipment Exhibition held in Beijing in April. Unlike the 28,000-ton Izumo-class, designed with five helicopter landing spots on its flight deck, the M1 has six. While the Izumo can carry a total number of 14 aircraft, how many the M1 can carry remains a mystery.

Japanese 28000 ton Izumo

The USA has the Wasp class is a class of Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ships operated by the United States Navy. Based on the Tarawa class, with modifications to operate more advanced aircraft and landing craft, the Wasp class is capable of transporting almost the full strength of a United States Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and landing them in hostile territory via landing craft or helicopters. All Wasp-class ships were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, at Pascagoula, Mississippi, with the lead ship, USS Wasp, commissioned on 29 July 1989. Eight Wasp-class ships were built, and as of 2013, all eight are active.

Each Wasp class ship has a displacement of 40,500 long tons (41,150 t) at full load, is 831 feet (253.2 m) long, has a beam of 104 feet (31.8 m), and a draft of 27 feet (8.1 m). For propulsion, most of the ships are fitted with two steam boilers connected to geared turbines, which deliver 70,000 shaft horsepower (33,849 kW) to the two propeller shafts

US 40,000 ton Wasp class carriers

Mundane Singularity Update part 1

I had looked at what will be the technologies and changes that can eventually lead to
1. Economic abundance
2. Radical life extension
3. Physical and Cognitive enhancement
4. Blood Stream Robots
5. Supermaterials
6. Open Access to space
7. Pollution elimination
8. Computer Advancement
9. Shape changing functional devices like utility fog

Here was the list with updates for the first eight out of 18
1. Pro-growth Policies

World economic growth has slowed

Global growth is projected at 3.3 percent in 2015, marginally lower than in 2014, with a gradual pickup in advanced economies and a slowdown in emerging market and developing economies. In 2016, growth is expected to strengthen to 3.8 percent.

Growth in advanced economies is projected to increase from 1.8 percent in 2014 to 2.1 percent in 2015 and 2.4 percent in 2016, a more gradual pickup than was forecast in the April 2015 WEO. The unexpected weakness in North America, which accounts for the lion’s share of the growth forecast revision in advanced economies, is likely to prove a temporary setback. The underlying drivers for acceleration in consumption and investment in the United States—wage growth, labor market conditions, easy financial conditions, lower fuel prices, and a strengthening housing market—remain intact.

India stumbled to a couple years of 4-5% or so GDP growth in 2012 and 2013 but now appears to be heading back to 7-8% GDP growth.

World financial policies are very loose in an attempt to get growth out of weak economies.
India and China are attempting to boost growth to not slowdown too much.
Instead of trying to achieve abundance it is use whatever policies that will first get back economies from bad back to pretty good.

China is trying to keep its growth going at 6.5% or higher for as long as possible.

This is a driving force for the One Belt One Road policy.
China is shifting to building out rail, energy and infrastructure in Africa, Asia and towards Europe.

I would talk about future altering high growth policy from Europe and North America but I am not aware of it.
The US is doing what it can with finance policy and trade deals.

2. Energy Efficiency - superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid

Superconductors and thermoelectrics have products but the big breakthrough in price and market size are taking longer to achieve.

3. Energy Revolution - Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion

Very low cost energy is important because energy has a larger impact on the economy than was officially recognized until recently.

According to the cost-share theorem, reductions of energy inputs by up to 7%, observed during the first energy crisis 1973–1975, could have only caused output reductions of 0.35%, whereas the observed reductions of output in industrial economies were up to an order of magnitude larger. Thus, from this perspective the recessions of the energy crises are hard to understand. In addition, cost-share weighting of production factors has the problem of the Solow residual. The Solow residual accounts for that part of output growth that cannot be explained by the input growth rates weighted by the factor cost shares. It amounts to more than 50% of total growth in many countries.

Horizontal multi-frac oil and gas has boosted US production which has contributed to lower global oil and gas prices. Natural gas which is less than half as polluting as coal has displaced about 40% of the coal used in the USA.

China wants to shift from coal energy dependency to reduce air pollution. China is looking to scale up nuclear power to provide energy at least as low cost as current coal energy. China will have built up all of the hydro by 2020 and will then turn to getting really serious about scaling up nuclear power.

China's 200 MWe HTR-PM pebble bed reactor will now be completed about 2017. This will then be built into several 600 MWe units.

China is also looking at supercritical water reactors. These have a similar supply chains to existing pressure water reactors and are potentially could supply energy at about half the cost.

Terrestrial Energy in Canada is working on a molten salt reactor prototype which could be completed by 2020.

Fast neutron reactors appear ready to become mainstream commercial in the 2020s and should then ramp up for major deployment in the 2030s.

Russia's SVBR-100 is interesting because it has the potential for factory mass production.

China's larger gigawatt reactors are interesting because those are ones that China will mass deploy in 2030 and beyond.

Nuclear fusion projects continue to develop.
The closest to possible commercialization are
General Fusion in Canada
Helion Energy
Tri-alpha Energy
LPP Fusion

Possible super-controversial breakthroughs
Cold Fusion aka Low Energy Nuclear Reactions - Rossi Energy Catalyzer continues to make claims. Blacklight Power makes claims.

4. Additive manufacturing

Applications that can help develop space industry or for tissue engineering have the potential to have most big future impact.

5. Not so mundane - neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics

There was a detailed analysis of a roadmap to human brain scale neuromorphic systems using FPGAs. There was also an analysis of some commercial applications for signal processing and image recognition.

There has been major funding of neuromorphic and brain emulation projections. Europe has a 1 billion euro ten year project. DARPA and US projects are of similar scale when funding is added together. There are major neuromorphic projects at IBM and Qualcomm and other companies.

July 31, 2015

IARPA crowd prediction moving to commercial spinoff and lessons on making better predictions

You can pre-register for beta testing of a commercial crowd prediction spinoff of the IARPA Good Judgement project.

The Good Judgment Project out-performed all other research teams in geopolitical forecasting. The Good Judgment Project was a four-year research study organized as part of a government-sponsored forecasting tournament. Thousands of people around the world predict global events. Their collective forecasts are surprisingly accurate.

The Aggregative Contingent Estimation (ACE) Program was sponsored by IARPA (the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity). The ACE Program aimed "to dramatically enhance the accuracy, precision, and timeliness of forecasts for a broad range of event types

Perovskite combined with quantum dots for superefficient LED lighting and high speed communication

University of Toronto researchers have combined two promising solar cell materials together for the first time, creating a new platform for LED technology.

The team designed a way to embed strongly luminescent nanoparticles called colloidal quantum dots (the chocolate chips) into perovskite (the oatmeal cookie). Perovskites are a family of materials that can be easily manufactured from solution, and that allow electrons to move swiftly through them with minimal loss or capture by defects.

The result is a black crystal that relies on the perovskite matrix to ‘funnel’ electrons into the quantum dots, which are extremely efficient at converting electricity to light. Hyper-efficient LED technologies could enable applications from the visible-light LED bulbs in every home, to new displays, to gesture recognition using near-infrared wavelengths.

“When you try to jam two different crystals together, they often form separate phases without blending smoothly into each other,” says Dr. Riccardo Comin, a post-doctoral fellow in the Sargent Group. “We had to design a new strategy to convince these two components to forget about their differences and to rather intermix into forming a unique crystalline entity.”

The resulting heterogeneous material is the basis for a new family of highly energy-efficient near-infrared LEDs. Infrared LEDs can be harnessed for improved night-vision technology, to better biomedical imaging, to high-speed telecommunications.

A glowing quantum dot seamlessly integrated into a perovskite crystal matrix (Image: Ella Marushchenko).

Nature - Quantum-dot-in-perovskite solids

Scientist develops model for robots with bacterial brains

A Virginia Tech scientist used a mathematical model to demonstrate that bacteria can control the behavior of an inanimate device like a robot.

“Basically we were trying to find out from the mathematical model if we could build a living microbiome on a nonliving host and control the host through the microbiome,” said Warren Ruder, an assistant professor of biological systems engineering in both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering.

"We found that robots may indeed be able to function with a bacterial brain,” he said.

For future experiments, Ruder is building real-world robots that will have the ability to read bacterial gene expression levels in E. coli using miniature fluorescent microscopes. The robots will respond to bacteria he will engineer in his lab.

On a broad scale, understanding the biochemical sensing between organisms could have far reaching implications in ecology, biology, and robotics.

Living Cells Interfaced with a Biomimetic Robot as a Model System for Host-Microbiome Interactions. (A) A synthetic gene network – also known as an engineered gene circuit. Uploading a gene circuit into living bacteria endows cells with a programmable biomolecular network. (B) Engineered bacteria and their circuits can be introduced into an organism’s microbiome. The networks of the host and microbiome combine to form a complete gene network. In the absence of the complete host-microbiome network, host behavior is erratic. A programmed microbiome drives new, and potentially rational, host behavior. (C) A robot with a microfluidic chemostat mimics the microbiome’s environment within an organism. The robot is conceptualized to include a miniature fluorescent microscope, along with the pumps necessary to deliver inducers to the onboard microfluidic chemostat. This microscope allows for modulations in the reporter protein levels to be interpreted by the robot electronically. In the absence of a living microbiome, robotic host behavior can be erratic. A programmed, living microbiome drives new host robotic behavior.

Nature Scientific Reports - Exploring Host-Microbiome Interactions using an in Silico Model of Biomimetic Robots and Engineered Living Cells

China will build three large nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with electromagnetic catapults

China's first domestically-built aircraft carrier could be nuclear-powered, Chinese web media reported Thursday, quoting an internal document of the shipbuilder responsible for building the carrier.

Russia-based also reported in an article on July 28 that China is sure to show the world its domestically-built aircraft carrier ahead of schedule, with all the equipment 100 percent produced domestically.

Vasily Kashin, the author of the article, said that China will build three aircraft carriers, most likely nuclear-powered and equipped with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system.

China is not likely to complete all three until about 2025. This would put China a distant second behind the United States which has 11 large 100,000+ ton nuclear aircraft carrier with catapult launch.

July 30, 2015

Interview with John Bucknell about his Airbreathing nuclear thermal rocket design

The first article about John Bucknell's AIAA paper is here.

The Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket - A Conceptual High-Performance Earth-to-Orbit Propulsion System by John Bucknell

A new propulsion concept called the Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket (NTTR) is proposed for Earth to Orbit applications. The NTTR utilizes a nuclear fission reactor to thermally heat hydrogen propellant into a rocket plenum. The rocket nozzles are located at the tips of a variable pitch thrust fan connected to the plenum by passages in the fan blades, and each nozzle is a linear aerospike on the trailing edge of the blade. The thrust fan is located in a duct such that the heated hydrogen propellant is combusted with ambient sourced oxygen to augment the rocket thrust. The fan is of variable pitch to provide maximum thrust for varying inlet velocity. The duct has a variable geometry inlet, able to provide appropriate mass flow and compression to the combustor throughout the trajectory, and a variable geometry outlet to provide appropriate nozzle area for maximum thrust. The rocket nozzles act as propellant injectors during the airbreathing portion and pure rockets during low atmospheric density portions, with the NTTR utilizing a single gas path from launch to orbital velocity. The propulsion concept is of high performance and is able to transport more than 50% mass fraction in a Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) via an air-breathing rocket trajectory with intended complete reusability. Payload fractions of up to 19% are predicted (inert mass includes reactor radiation shielding) due to a mission average Specific Impulse (Isp) of 1,662 seconds

Here is information from an email interview with John Bucknell.

Question 1. Can you list out your modifications compared to older designs and experiments ?

Background to question 1 -
The NERVA experiments had an ISP of about 875, and the thinking was they could have been upgraded to 975
The Timberwind design (1987-91) in theory could reach 1000 ISP
And some current designs are at 925 ISP.
There were nuclear light bulb - gas core design open cycle design with ISP in the 3000 to 5000 range and closed cycle 1500-2000 ISP.

Answer 1 from John Bucknell
The pure rocket portion of the system is pretty conventional - I used an off-the-shelf design reactor (MITEE) with peak propellant temps limited to about 2200 deg C so as to limit fuel element erosion that starts at about 2500 deg C. Mass loss of the fuel element at 2750 deg C was a fraction of a percent per 100 hours of operation (ie not much). The Isp as a pure rocket is 890 seconds in vacuum. When in airbreathing mode the exit temp drops since so much more fuel is being pushed through the core - with around 1000 deg C propellant temps. So no exotic designs needed, it's the airbreathing that ups the Isp.

Question 2. Also, if Spacex gets reusable stages then how does yours reusable nuclear thermal rocket compare ?

Answer 2 from John Bucknell
As compared to SpaceX's reusability - same motivations. However, a SSTO can land, refuel and launch again whereas the F9R needs to be reintegrated. And the upper stage doesn't have the mass budget (yet) for propulsive recovery. But the big kicker is payload fractions - my design is only 15% of the GLOW of a F9R for the same payload (at the low end of estimates - top end is 1.5x payload), so the rocket is far simpler and easier to build. And bigger rockets generally have better payload fractions - so a scaled up version could get Saturn V sized payloads at still only 60% of the GLOW of a F9R.

Aircraft carriers, submarines, tanks, lasers and Emdrive were the top posts in July

The Nextbigfuture website is nearing 59 million pageviews and 150 million views on Google Plus.

Some have in comments have asked about the topic selection of Nextbigfuture.

The articles that have generated the most traffic and revenue are the aircraft carrier, fighter planes, bombers, submarines, tanks, laser and railgun articles. Also, occasionally some articles like Emdrive.

Some have accused this site of being a paid promoter of China. This kind of accusation shows a kind of naive cluelessness.
China is an $11 trillion GDP country. The leadership does not care world public opinion and only cares about their own people if there is an actual risk of 1911 style uprisings.

Companies and countries do not pay for a lot of blogger articles to sway opinion. Some companies pay for ad campaigns, but that is generally click based and the revenue is strongly driven by the traffic. There are also some tiny new companies with new products who might actually play for positive blog articles. However, this is a tiny fraction of the ad money. If the company is so small that they are looking for blog coverage then they are also close to just begging for free article coverage. This would mean no money.

China just uses directly state controlled media.

The top traffic China sites are Sina and Xinhau and the product sites. A top China traffic site needs to be in chinese language and mobile focused. It also should probably WeChat focused.

WeChat is a mobile text and voice messaging communication service developed by Tencent in China, first released in January 2011. It is the largest standalone messaging app by monthly active users. As of August 2014, WeChat has 438 million active users; with 70 million outside of China.

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