Four Next LinksThe NextSen­sor team is always look­ing for news from the world of next. Here are four links to recent items that caught my atten­tion.

Any­one who plays video games ought to take a peek at Katie Drummond’s (@katiedrumm) excel­lent post on “Video games change the way you dream: Those hours in an alter­nate real­i­ty are mess­ing with our minds” [link]. The arti­cle focus­es on Jayne Gack­en­bach (@jgackenb), “a psy­chol­o­gist at Canada’s Grant MacE­wan Uni­ver­si­ty and arguably the world’s pre­em­i­nent expert on how video games can impact dream­ing”. While I’m not sug­gest­ing that nextsens­ing and dream­ing are the same thing, there is def­i­nite­ly an impor­tant role for the imag­i­na­tion in anyone’s think­ing about pos­si­ble paths to the future. For some time, Gack­en­bach has been explor­ing the rela­tion­ship between video games, dreams and real life. Accord­ing to Drum­mond:

Among her oth­er find­ings, Gack­en­bach has not­ed that gamers tend to have more “bizarre” dreams — those that include far-fetched or impos­si­ble sce­nar­ios, like imag­i­nary char­ac­ters or space trav­el — than their peers. Bizarre dreams, in turn, have also been linked to enhanced cre­ative out­put in day-to-day life, sug­gest­ing (as Gack­en­bach has also found) that gam­ing might make us more cre­ative in real-world sce­nar­ios.

Is there a con­struc­tive role for video gam­ing when think­ing about the future of your com­pa­ny? I wel­come your thoughts.

There are many arti­cles about the prob­lem of smog in major urban cities around the world. Any­one mak­ing progress in solv­ing the prob­lem? Yes! Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) broad­cast a short video on “Breathe Easy: This Build­ing Eats Smog” [link] and it’s def­i­nite­ly worth watch­ing. Here’s the quick sum­ma­ry from Bloomberg; and, if noth­ing else, it shows that even seem­ing­ly intractable prob­lems can be attacked by those who are dis­sat­is­fied with the sta­tus quo:

Twen­ty years ago, Mex­i­co City was the world’s most pol­lut­ed city. It’s come a long way since then with inno­va­tions such as a smog-eat­ing facade fea­tured on one of the city’s build­ings (from Berlin-based firm Ele­gant Embell­ish­ments). Mex­i­co City’s Torre de Espe­cial­i­dades (Manuel Gea González Hos­pi­tal) can reduce the amount of smog pro­duced by 1,000 cars per day. Bloomberg finds out how.

If you are more inter­est­ed in clean clothes than in clean air, Smith­son­ian has news for you. “This Wash­ing Machine Could Be the Next Game-Chang­ing Appli­ance: An inno­v­a­tive sys­tem that uses stain-suck­ing plas­tic beads trans­lates to big sav­ings” [link] was writ­ten by Tuan C. Nguyen (@ReporterTuan). I found it inter­est­ing main­ly because, before read­ing the piece, I would have thought the tech­nol­o­gy for clean­ing clothes via wash­ing machines was as advanced as it pos­si­bly could be. Not true!

Since 2010, the UK-based start­up [Xeros Clean­ing] has been intro­duc­ing into sev­er­al mar­kets a rad­i­cal, near­ly-water­less machine that alleged­ly leaves clothes clean­er while using 72 per­cent less water, cut­ting ener­gy costs by as much as 47 per­cent. The Xeros clean­ing sys­tem, found at select ath­let­ic clubs, drop-off clean­ers and Hyatt hotels, does this by swap­ping out water for tiny plas­tic beads spe­cial­ly-engi­neered to absorb dirt direct­ly — and there­fore more effec­tive­ly — from fab­ric.

Here again it’s good news any­time some­one finds ways to improve some­thing that every­one else assumes is “as good as it gets”. Nguyen also reports that one of the exec­u­tives for Xeros has found that this approach not only helps the envi­ron­ment, but it also helps clothes to last longer.

Last­ly, any­one who wish­es that his or her e-mail expe­ri­ence were bet­ter needs to read Ste­fan Pfeiffer’s blog post on “IBM Con­nect 2014: I didn’t just see the Future of Email, I saw IBM’s Vision of the Future” [link].

He dis­cuss­es his recent trip to Orlan­do for an IBM Con­nect tech­nol­o­gy con­fer­ence where a new approach to e-mail was intro­duced. Pfeif­fer says, “With Mail Next, IBM is pre­sent­ing a rev­o­lu­tion­ary new e-mail client, and when I say rev­o­lu­tion­ary, I real­ly mean it.” He says that the new pro­gram will help peo­ple find e-mails from the past much faster and “in con­text with rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion from oth­er sources, such as social media chan­nels and oth­er repos­i­to­ries”. Excit­ing stuff. In his post, Pfeif­fer explains how IBM makes this hap­pen, and he offers oth­er high­lights from the con­fer­ence.

His clos­ing com­ments were also fas­ci­nat­ing. He says the con­fer­ence (which used to be called Lotu­sphere) is now being attend­ed by a wider array of par­tic­i­pants: “The event is no longer a con­fer­ence for nerdy pro­gram­mers; it is an impor­tant event for HR man­agers, mar­keters, ‘line of busi­ness’ and IT.” As the impor­tance of find­ing one’s next expands, I sus­pect many con­fer­ences in many fields may find its attendee list pop­u­lat­ed by peo­ple of all types.

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