New Next Now (Trends for July 2017)

19 July 2017 | Keeping Up with the Trends

Endgame for oil: A new trend? Since the discovery of crude off Dubai’s coast in 1966, the once-sandy village has transformed into a resplendent cosmopolitan oasis. Sci-fi skyscrapers and ritzy beachfront hotels dominate the skyline beneath the towering Burj Khalifa, the tallest manmade structure on Earth. But Dubai isn’t content to sit idle on its riches while climate change takes its toll—and, more practically, it understands that oil is a finite (and dwindling) resource. Reports Andrew Blum (@ajblum) for @PopSci: “Dubai wants to be known more as a laboratory for world-saving technology than for… beaches, indoor ski slopes, and vast air-conditioned malls.”

So, what is the city’s game plan? Already, Dubai has made a $14 billion investment to establish a 5,000-megawatt solar panel network that will provide 25 percent of the city’s needed electricity, says Blum. City leaders are also actively imagining a future defined by innovation: bio-desalination, robotically maintained indoor farms, even flying cars. Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohammad Al Gergawi frames Dubai’s vision: “We need to think faster, and we need to reinvent every single product.”

In 2020, Dubai will host the World Expo—just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates—and the city plans to make an enterprising statement for the estimated 17.5 million foreign attendees: 50 percent of the event’s energy will be renewable. The city has also pledged $100 million to lure and finance new tech startups to Dubai. “We are young kids on the block,” admits Al Gergawi, “[but] every day we say, ‘How can we improve?’” [Read More Now]

NNN New Logo2


Riding the waves. Ultrasound technology may fuel the next great leap in tech innovation, says Andrew Feeney (@Andrew_Feeney) for @smithsonianmag. For over 80 years, doctors have harnessed the vibrations of ultrasonic sound waves to “see” unborn babies as they develop inside the womb. But forward-thinkers across the globe are proving that the technology can achieve far more. Example: sound waves help bats to “see” and navigate their surroundings; could the same principle work for blind people? A California research group is working to answer that very question, thanks to a prototype helmet that sends out sound waves and then translates the reflected signals into visual data for the human brain. Reports Feeney: “In time, this technology could become more practical and portable… [i.e.] specially designed glasses.” [Read More Now]

Up, up, and away! Some unlikely heroes have joined the fight to keep birds away from airports. Robotic falcons—yes, you read that right—will begin patrolling Canada’s Edmonton International Airport in an effort to deter both resident and migratory birds from disrupting air traffic. Developed by Dutch drone maker Clear Flight Solutions, these robo-falcons look like—and move like—their living predatory counterparts, flapping as they circle the open areas between runways. “The hope is that this will be an eco-friendly solution… and thus a win for both birds and planes,” reports Cara Giaimo (@cjgiaimo) for @atlasobscura. [Read More Now]

Bookmarked. It’s that time of year: university graduates everywhere are eagerly preparing to launch into their professional lives. But Oliver Staley (@Ostaley) at @qz believes it’s never too late for a little summer reading—which is why he’s asked CEOs and other business leaders to share their post-graduation must-reads. It’s no surprise to see team-oriented bestsellers, like McChrystal’s Team of Teams and Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, on the list; or even 2014’s The Innovators, a survey of the rise of computers by noted Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson. What’s more intriguing—if not outright telling—is the inclusion of 1984, Orwell’s classic dystopian warning against totalitarianism. Says Tupperware CEO Rick Goings of his recommendation, Cousineau’s The Hero’s Journey: “It expands your vision of what the road of life could look like.” [Read More Now]

For more on bizbooks. If you’re trying to keep up on the best of current business books, there’s no one better to follow than Ted Kinni (@tedkinni). he now has a regular column on the Inc. @Inc website. [Read More Now]

Sea boggling. Didn’t want you to miss this article from earlier this year by Catherine Zuckerman (@CatherineZDC) about the amount of waste that enters our ocean regularly. Says the @NatGeo author: “Roughly eight million tons of plastic enters the ocean every year. That’s according to a 2015 report, which also identified where the bulk of this trash originates. At the top of the list: China, the Philippines, and Indonesia.” [Read More Now]

Pharma to table. Mega-online retailer Amazon looks poised to enter yet another market to its rapidly expanding empire of offerings: pharmaceuticals. @CNBC reports that the U.S.-based company is in the beginning stages of business development and recruiting. It’s easy to see why this move makes sense. Writing for @FortuneMagazine this month, Harry Kraemer (@HarryKraemerJr) points out that the American health care market accounts for 18% of the U.S. GDP—an enticing opportunity, he says, “given the company’s ability to reach virtually every household.” Still, Amazon will need to devise new methods of distribution to meet the industry’s extensive safety regulations, and patient prescriptions will need to be accounted for, as well. Nevertheless, Kraemer reiterates that, for Amazon, health care is “simply too big a market to pass up.” [Read More Now]

Genome dreams. Chinese genetics giant BGI is setting its sights on the next leap forward in human genome research. Recently, the company established the West Coast Innovation Center, a U.S.-based R&D operation in partnership with the University of Washington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its aim, says Megan Molteni (@MeganMolteni) for @WIRED, is two-fold: (1) expand development of precision medicine and (2) build the next generation genome sequencer. Already, both the U.S. and China have invested hundreds of millions in large-scale human genome mapping in hopes that the data will eventually lead to effective treatments of the world’s most threatening diseases. But Jay Flatley, chairman of BGI competitor Illumina, believes that goal is a distant one: “There still remains a lot of work to be done to extract clinical significance from the human genome.” [Read More Now]

Connectivity. From Quartz (@qz): “Out of the 7.5 billion people in the world, two thirds, or 5 billion, now subscribe to a mobile service.” [Read More Now]

So, no surprise here. From @WaPo: “If Facebook were a religion, it would be the second largest in the world.” This is a great report from Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham). [Read More Now]

Help your haggle game. Thinking about asking your boss for a salary raise? This month, @mental_floss has offered up some inspired tips on how to be a more effective negotiator. The very first lesson—think of negotiating as collaborative, not combative—is perhaps the most relevant in today’s workplace, but I believe it’s equally important to “know your market value” and “what you can bring to the table.” After all, negotiation is about finding the best solution for all parties, and that includes you. Another great tip: “Think beyond salary.” Vacation time, working from home, stock options—all are potential incentives that can be scored to lead you to a happier, more productive, and more fulfilling work life. [Read More Now]

PR pirouette. As the saying goes, things don’t always go according to plan: just ask California meal kit maker Gobble. Recently, the company swapped out their gel ice packs in favor of eco-friendly dry ice packs, but the results were less than favourable—the new packs couldn’t hold an even temperature, resulting in a lot of spoiled dinners. The backlash was predictably strong, but the team rallied with personal emails to every customer and a letter of apology from CEO Ooshma Garg: “People were floored by the honest explanation…. It showed me that even as we become a bigger company and hire more teams in marketing and communications, how important it is to maintain our valuable and authentic dialogue.” Take a peek at Garg’s interview with Lydia Belanger (@LydiaBelanger) at @Entrepreneur: [Read More Now]

Grad day takeaways. Bill Gates recently took to Twitter with some special advice for university graduates—in part, the culmination of all he’s learned over the past 40 years. First, he offered up a trio of cutting-edge fields—artificial intelligence, energy, and biosciences—that he would pursue if starting over today. Second, he extolled the value of continually learning and acquiring new skills: “Intelligence takes many different forms.” Third, and perhaps most essential, he calls for the next generation to take on the world’s struggles: “You know more than I did when I was your age. You can start fighting inequity, whether down the street or around the world, sooner.” Thanks to Ariel Pang at @sphasiaone for sharing Mr. Gates’ words of wisdom! [Read More Now]

Gravity Light. Someone is trying to help people solve a most basic problem: illuminating their world. Per the website: “Over 1.2 billion people globally have no access to electricity and millions more have an unreliable supply. Instead they use dangerous, polluting and expensive kerosene lamps for light.” You might find the work of the Gravity Light Foundation (@GravityLight) to be worth your interest, if not support. [Read More Now]

Agro-tech in Africa. A wave of new technology is sweeping over Africa’s farmland—and not a moment too soon. According to Ndubuisi Ekekwe, founder of the African Institute of Technology, “agriculture accounts for more than 30% of the continent’s GDP and employs more than 60% of its working population.” And yet, weather changes, deforestation, and urban migration have cut dramatically into Africa’s crop yields. In many areas, farmers are still using outdated tools and equipment, but several new startups are looking to change that by providing access to digital weather data, soil sensors, solar-powered irrigation, and more—all of which will help increase farm production and reduce waste. These new advancements, Ekekwe says, are even enticing young people to explore career opportunities in farming. Check out the full article at @HarvardBiz. [Read More Now]

Kyle ElzyKyle Thomas Elzy researches and writes our monthly feature of what’s hot in the nextsensing world. He is a storyteller by trade. His professional background lies in copywriting, editing, scriptwriting, graphic/web design, and audio/video editing. He has collaborated closely with numerous museum, academic, corporate, and nonprofit organisations.