A weekly news show covering future-focused topics and news, taking a look at what life could look like in the next decade and beyond, today. Sharing the names of organizations and people making waves across every industry, and letting us all stay informed for the hope or investment opportunity in all of it.
This week we jump right into a couple of stories around Virtual Reality, and how it’s been used for the ever-evolving work and shopping experience as we move further into remote living. How Google is embracing the future and building spaces to thrive around the world, and lastly how science is crafting alternatives to everything, from organs to food.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Etsy debuts shoppable virtual house
Let’s get started with the first story in today’s episode, diving into Virtual Reality and how it’s being used to experiment with new ways to browse and shop online,
Building on its augmented reality offerings, Etsy debuted the Etsy House, a project it collaborated on with The Boundary, a creative visualization studio, it’s the first interactive, augmented reality experience that lets shoppers tour a digital home decorated with curated items from the marketplace.
The Etsy House features true-to-scale renderings and 360-degree imagery in a virtual home displaying holiday decor and gifts, Etsy Design Award-winning items, furniture, artwork, and other goods.
If you go in there and spot something you like, you can hover over it to view the product information and a purchase link, the company said.
Imagine how this could evolve in the future, with everyone getting access to $300 virtual headsets from Facebook, never again will we have to walk through the labyrinth that is an Ikea store to get to see what’s available for ourselves. However, I will miss the cafeteria meatballs.
Working From Orbit - Vr Productivity In a WFA World
Paul Tomlinson has spent 40-50 hours in virtual reality each week for the last two and a half years for work. He uses the virtual environment to create an office space that is comfortable, practical, and free from distractions
He wrote the following in an article on Medium for ImmersedVR
“I float in space, surrounded on all sides by a grand view of the Milky Way Galaxy. A movie-theater-sized screen hangs before me, gently curved, everything at the perfect viewing distance. Eight different panes glitter with code, facets of a technological jewel granting views into the brain of a system responsible for moving tens of millions of dollars a day.
A communications console canted like a drafting table at my fingertips holds a workshop of quick-fire exchanges with my colleagues, my meeting calendar, various API references, and camera feeds of the “real” world. To my left, abutting the mammoth array of code, a two-story tall portrait display shows the specifications for the task at hand atop an ever-present Spotify playlist. I crank the tunes and get into my flow.”
While working in virtual reality every day for 10 hours a day is a pretty distant pipe dream for most of us, especially with today’s technology, it’s both very exciting about the prospect of choosing where we want to work every day and getting immersed in an incredible environment of our choosing.
This is a future I’d like to explore, however, where this gives me the “hibby jibbies” is how we may begin to forget how important our space outside of VR is, could this lead down a dark “Black-mirror” type rabbit hole in which cubicles could become just concrete blocks?
Google buys NYC campus for $2.1 B, one of biggest office deals in history
Moving away from remote work, Google has shown signs of doubling down on the idea of getting back to the office, in a huge way.
Google has purchased a 1.3 million-square-foot waterfront building in New York City. For 2.1 Billion US dollars.
The company had signed an agreement to lease the Hudson Square office building in 2018. The lease terms included an option to buy the building. Google currently has 12,000 employees in New York and plans to add at least 2,000 more.
The company recently rolled out an internal pay calculator to determine salary cuts for employees who choose to continue to work from home. Employees who choose remote work will have their pay adjusted according to their distance from Google's offices.
As a remote worker myself, I feel as though your income should be determined by market value and not changed based on where you live, but that’s just me, let’s keep an eye on things to see where we end up going.
First Artificial Kidney That Would Free People From Dialysis and Transplants Runs on Blood Pressure
Moving away from work, let’s dive headfirst down the rabbit hole of scientific research around the First Artificial Kidney That Would Free People From Dialysis and Transplants Runs on Blood Pressure
KidneyX is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology founded to “accelerate innovation in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of kidney diseases.”
Roy, a faculty member of the UCSF Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine shares that “The vision for the artificial kidney is to provide patients with complete mobility and better physiological outcomes than dialysis, it promises a much higher quality of life for millions worldwide with kidney failure.”
The Kidney Project’s implantable bioartificial kidney, one that promises to free kidney disease patients from dialysis machines and transplant waiting lists, took another big step toward becoming reality—earning a $650,000 prize from KidneyX for its first-ever demonstration of a functional prototype of its implantable artificial kidney.
Chronic kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease, leads to the progressive and dangerous loss of kidney function. Most patients with kidney failure must-visit dialysis clinics multiple times every week to have their blood filtered, a process that is time-consuming, uncomfortable, and risky.
“This award is a testament to The Kidney Project’s bold vision and execution of a viable solution for millions of patients with kidney failure,” said UCSF School of Pharmacy Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD.
Impossible Foods to launch meatless pork in U.S., Hong Kong, and Singapore
Do you like alternative meats? Beyond meat, impossible foods, and the other brand names I can’t remember due to a lack of effective marketing to cement them in my head. Well believe it or not, in my household we’ve brought actual meat consumption to about once or twice a week, every other day is filled with meat alternatives that we genuinely enjoy.
This next story brings me hope, as Pork has always been the one meat type we haven’t found an alternative for, until now.
For the company's third commercial launch Impossible Foods is rolling out a plant-based pork product that will be available in the US, Hong Kong, and Singapore in the coming months. The pork alternative is made primarily from soy and provides the same amount of protein as real pork but with no cholesterol, one-third less saturated fat, and far fewer calories.
During a blind taste test run using a large focus group in Hong Kong, it was found that a surprising 54 percent of Hong Kong consumers preferred the meatless pork product over the traditional alternatives.
President Dennis Woodside shared with the press following the success of the test that it could actually beat the real deal in both taste and nutritional value, all the while avoiding the negative effects of the pork industry. He shares that “Pig typically isn’t regarded as a healthy product, but here you have a substitute that tastes just as good but is actually better for you.”
The launch comes amid a growing appetite for alternative protein as consumers and companies alike become more aware of the environmental impact of traditional animal agriculture. It is estimated that the industry is responsible for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Impossible Foods, for its part, claims its pork product uses 85% less water, 82% less land, and produces77% less greenhouse gas emissions than regular pork production.
So in closing, it seems that VR may be able to get us what our employers can’t, do we need to worry about companies punishing us for wanting to work remotely? Saving them money on expensive office space and a variety of other amenities? And science is really coming in hot to save us all from illness and malnutrition which is great! Oh and also, maybe beating climate change in the meantime. Exciting stuff.
In any case, thanks for listening to the Future Lens podcast, this has been Shawn Hopkins, I’ll see you, in the next episode!