Monthly Archives October 2021

Sony turns to science fiction for new ideas

What would you think of a mask that allows you to enjoy the synthesized smells of fine dining? How about a houseboat for people displaced by rising sea levels due to climate change?

These are among the ideas that Sony Group Corp. has imagined, all based on stories created through a collaboration between science fiction writers and young in-house designers at Sony.

Such stories offer a glimpse into the future envisioned by an author’s daring imagination, with details of imagined futures used to develop potential products and services. This method is called science fiction prototyping.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has featured scenes like those from a sci-fi movie, such as cities strangely empty due to lockdowns, Japanese companies such as Sony are starting to explore unconventional ways to find solutions. new ideas.

Sony has shaped products and services that appear in stories developed in workshops between writers and designers, with words like “2050”, “Tokyo” and “romance” designated as keywords for the overall theme.

Models of products and services designed using sci-fi prototyping were on display this summer in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

In the past, Sony had mainly relied on practical methods to seek the perspective of consumers in general for great ideas for new designs.

Yet in collaborating with science fiction writers, in-house designers have had unique moments of insight. They often found that writers and designers look at things totally different, according to Shigeki Ono, a senior official at Sony’s Creative Center.

“In the beginning, there were times when our communication wasn’t smooth,” Ono said.

Designers are good at drawing pictures, but they’re not used to writing stories with characters.

One designer who participated said, “I realized how interesting it is to pay close attention to every detail, including a setting for the story and the relationships between the characters,” according to Ono.

Sci-fi prototyping spread among tech companies on the West Coast of the United States in the 2010s.

Many famous entrepreneurs have been influenced by works of science fiction. Among them is Elon Musk, who founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX. It aims to take humans to Mars.

Sony’s Sci-Fi Prototyping Project was supported by Wired Sci-Fi Prototyping Lab.

He worked with online advertising company CyberAgent Inc. to envision the possible future of the media industry.

The laboratory is also developing a concept for a new city using cutting-edge technologies in collaboration with a local administration.

“We hope that many people will learn the ways of thinking from science fiction writers and use them for business,” said lab director Tomonari Kotani.

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Five Sci-Fi Movies To Stream Now

October 22, 2021: a date that for many science fiction fans cannot come soon enough. It is then that those of us who will not attend film festivals will finally be able to watch Denis Villeneuve’s long awaited “Dune”, either at the cinema or on HBO Max. Amusingly, a few enterprising independents are betting that some impatient viewers don’t pay much attention and are drawn to the UK micro-budget production “Dune Drifter”, with its deliberately archaic aesthetic, or the “Dune World” , insanely inept, which involves “worm-like beasts” on a “hostile and barren planet.” Better check out this month’s pick of overlooked sci-fi nuggets, none of which attempt to rub shoulders with the universe by Frank Herbert.

Rent or buy on most major platforms.

Henriksen plays an Arizona quack whose ill-gotten powers end up making bullied teenager Kelly (Elijah Nelson) nearly invincible. This, in turn, allows Kelly to take bloody revenge on the football players who ruined her life.

It’s disappointing to see Henriksen come out so quickly, but Martin Guigui’s film maintains tremendous cheap and nasty momentum. It’s as close as we’re getting close to the classic 1970s or 80s B fare today, with endearing off-brand actors taking that entertaining twist on overpowered high school kids.

Rent it or buy it on most major platforms.

Many of the greatest sci-fi movies camouflage allegorical messages with action-oriented storylines – looking at you, “Planet of the Apes.” And then there are movies like “Mnemophrenia,” where what you see is what you get: a thoughtful discussion about the nature of memory and what makes us human. It may sound like a lecture throughout a feature film, especially since director Eirini Konstantinidou teaches film studies at the University of Essex. But “Mnemophrenia” strikes a delicate balance between ideas and relationships, and has genuine warmth. The film is set in an all too relatable near future where virtual reality has become so mainstream that it has re-energized people’s sense of identity – the title refers to a condition (invented but credible) “characterized by the coexistence of artificial realities and memories.

For some characters, mnemophrenia is not a problem but “a new way of being”, another step in the long game of human evolution. Others are less taken with the inability to tell right from wrong, the real experience of VR travel. They don’t find life in a particularly desirable perpetual holodeck, let alone the possible neurological effects of the new “total cinema”, which reproduces touch, taste and smell. At the heart of the film is a difficult question: does it matter if something is wrong while it feels real?

Stream it on Shudder.

That this South African film of alien possession is airing on the Shudder horror platform is a good indication that it is not for the faint of heart. Just be aware that the alien presence is entering Barry (Gary Green) ‘s body through what looks like every possible hole, as well as some newly sculpted holes. And that’s just the beginning.

Barry wasn’t the healthiest vehicle for exploring Earth: a heroin addict, this hapless alien doesn’t even have a break at home, where he constantly bickers with his wife, Suz (Chanelle de Jager), in a hysterical mix of English and Afrikaans. So maybe hosting a horrible tourist isn’t the worst thing that can happen to them. The film is essentially a series of encounters as the newly empowered Barry, eyes bulging out suggesting that everything is worse than usual, falters in the city.

Ryan Kruger’s feature debut has a relentless gonzo vibe – get ready for drugs, sex, and a quick, revolting pregnancy – that sits somewhere between the cinema of 1980s transgression and the outrageous world of the music duo. South African Die Antwoord. He’s so determined to be cult that he cries out to be watched on VHS.

Ray (Dean Imperial) is so desperate to earn the money to pay for his sick brother’s care that he signs up to work for CBLR, one of the big players in the exciting new world of “quantum wiring” – he there is even an industry expo, where employees can purchase accessories.

Quantum wiring and CBLR are terrifying in a familiar way: a new monopoly industry that spews “disruptive” platitudes (its slogan is “challenge your status quo”) while preventing those who do not adhere to it from fully functioning. It is even worse for employees, who have to pay the honor of working by buying a medallion, and then are subjected to constant surveillance.

All of this makes Noah Hutton’s film terribly dark and menacing, but “Lapsis” is a sweet, often awkward satire directed by an endearing doofus that ends up finding resistance in the person of fellow bee Anna (Madeline Wise). Make no mistake, though: Observations about the ever-growing power of technology and the sequence of exploitation of the concert economy land with uncomfortable familiarity.

Surely you might wonder if British director Ben Wheatley’s eco-mystical mind’s journey qualifies as science fiction. Written during the lockdown and shot under Covid-19 restrictions, the film is set during a pandemic and references isolation and successive waves of the disease. The premise is a bit on the nose – we’re still going through this and may not be ready for the docu-fiction version just yet – but Wheatley is quickly taking off in unexpected and completely bizarre directions. That his goal is to create some sort of freak-folk fairy tale is obvious from the start: Alma (Ellora Torchia) guides Martin (Joel Fry), a scientist, through a mysterious forest straight out of the Grimm Brothers. He doesn’t seem worried when she tells him about a woodland spirit called Parnag Fegg. Soon, however, they realize that the animals seem to have disappeared: “they smell something”, and in turn, we feel that something is not good.

Wheatley adds to this setting with abandon, scenes of body horror that would make a podiatrist cover their eyes with many directors’ favorite trope of “I can’t think of anything else to do” – hallucinations. The film overplays the cryptic card but remains absorbing for a simple reason: you never know what will follow.

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Science-Fiction, Science Future opens at MOSH

The Museum of Science and History’s latest exhibit caters to both children and adults, using highly interactive demo stations highlighting technology just beyond the horizon, drawing inspiration from real science and science fiction.

All around the exhibit you will find images from various science fiction films and franchises. You might not recognize them all, but Doctor Who fans will immediately spot the Cyberman on the lobby screen, and there are images in the main upstairs exhibit of Star Wars and Star Trek scattered around. of the main exhibition.

Make sure you access the lobby display before heading to the main event, because designing a cyborg is a lot of fun! The teleportation screen in the main area has pads that bear a striking resemblance to those used in Star Trek, and for older kids and adults, there’s technical information on the principles behind it. Harry Potter fans will appreciate the invisibility display.

Don’t expect real experiences here. Instead, they’re fun simulations of what’s possible, now and in the future. The bracelets allow you to get a “medical exam”, which of course is not a real medical exam, but what it might look like. The same groups also let you find out what your future occupation might be (mine is a robot mechanic!) It’s the kind of thing that will spark the imaginations of young people and help propel future scientists. But digitization technology, using visual encoding to determine content, is a technology that exists today and is used in museums around the world to personalize the experiences of people interested in art and culture. story. Some apps on your phone today can use these codes to activate information when you scan them next to a specific exhibit.

Where I had the most fun was the beta brain wave competition. At this convenient station, you will need two players. Each puts a band around their head that measures the person’s relaxation, tracking things like beta brain waves. Between the two players is a table with a ball in the center. The ball follows a magnetic track between the players. The more relaxed you are, the more the ball is supposed to be pushed towards the other player. If you get them all the way, you win. It is possible, in laboratories with very specialized equipment, to use the feedback of brain waves to move objects or operate a computer. In 20 years, if the application is practical, it may be less specialized and more widespread. Instruments that pick up this type of brain activity are notoriously sensitive, so anything can disturb them. But that doesn’t really matter, because it gets players thinking about how this tech works, and it’s also fun.

MOSH curator Paul Bourcier believes that the interactive nature of “STEM-based practical and bodily stations engages both children and adults,” which leads to learning and innovative thinking. According to Bourcier, “the science fiction exhibition arouses curiosity” and he hopes that “visitors will learn from this exhibition about the advances we have made in the field of technology, as well as the opportunities for the future”.

The toughest science-tech demonstration in the room is the eye-track computer mouse. This is the current technology that actually exists, used for paraplegics or those who cannot use their hands. It takes a minute to acclimatize, but it’s quite rewarding. Of all the demo stations, this is the one that does something real and tangible. With many others, it’s hard to have a tech demo that doesn’t exist yet, so simulations of what teleportation looks like, or what invisibility would look like make it fun and accessible.

Another station called “Future Past” that you might find interesting is more historical than any of the others, retracing what we thought the future might be over decades and centuries. Each age has had a vision of what future technology might look like, and it’s fascinating to look back on those. You control what appears on the big screen, choosing the time period you want to see.

Everything is not based on IT and audiovisual. In a refreshing analog move, given the content of the exhibit, there is a drawing station with paper where kids can draw what they think the future might be towards the end of the exhibit, and where the designs can be exhibited. I liked that they weren’t on a computer screen, that they were easy to use (no one would have to share a screen), and that they used everyday tools.

If you have a range of ages to entertain yourself, Science fiction, Science of the future engages everyone from toddlers to adults. Not all practical displays reach such a wide range, but I can safely say that if you are interested in the technological possibilities, you will be engaged. Younger kids will love some of the simpler interaction stations (like the cyborg in the lobby and the invisibility demo), but older kids and adults will dig deeper into the text and some of the more complicated ideas, on everything, from wormholes to quantum mechanics.

Science fiction, Science of the future will be on display until May 13, 2018. For tickets and more information, visit or call 396-MOSH.

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Promising Trends in Health Sciences Research at U of M Reflect Vision of Improving Minnesota and Global Health

The University of Minnesota successfully competed for more than $ 1 billion in external research funding in fiscal 2021, a first in the University’s 170-year history. This achievement was motivated, in part, by widespread interest, participation and investment in health science research. At its meeting next Friday, the University of Minnesota Board of Trustees will discuss what University of Minnesota health science researchers accomplished over the past year and what the future holds. to this work at one of the leading research universities in the United States.

Dr. Jakub Tolar, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts and Vice President of Clinical Affairs, will introduce the Regents to the breadth of health science research at the university, a broad scope that almost involves all disciplines of the university and takes advantage of the greatest strengths to achieve superior results. Tolar will also outline his vision for the future to advance healthcare in partnership with state, nation, and the global community to solve health challenges. As Tolar will note in his presentation, this vision aligns with several of the University’s commitments in its system-wide strategic plan, MPact 2025.

The University engages in almost all forms of research in the health sciences, from basic research to translational research, clinical to community. Under this broad umbrella, Tolar’s presentation will note that national trends in health science research have increasingly aligned with the more specific areas of expertise and interests of the University, including: health disparities; underserved and rural populations; diversity, equity and inclusion; involve communities in their health priorities; the implementation and dissemination of basic science, and; digital health and big data, among others.

The unique intersections of these topics with academic expertise have attracted increased funding for health science research at U of M, as well as increased discoveries and high impact scholarships.

The University’s health sciences research has a long and celebrated history of heralded advancements, dating back to innovative medical devices such as the pacemaker and procedures such as open heart surgery and living organ transplants. . Discoveries and innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic, supported by strong research funding and awards, have built on this story. Funding from U of M researchers has made it possible to improve personal protective equipment, explore approaches to better predict COVID-19 outbreaks, understand the biological systems of the virus and the responses of the virus. organization, to deepen knowledge on health disparities and the impacts of the pandemic on various communities, and to conduct in-depth trials of new therapeutic and vaccine candidates.

U of M experts have also led topics relating to aging, quality of life, substance abuse, rural health, health equity, and disease prevention and treatment, ranging from new and rare diseases to cancer and heart health.

As part of its October meetings, the Council is also expected to:

  • Discuss the new cybersecurity certification requirements under the direction of the office of the vice-president, research.
  • Receive an update on the System’s Strategic Enrollment Plan.
  • Discuss key lessons learned from delivering courses during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as best practices for distance or hybrid education.
  • Visit and visit of the University Health Sciences Education Center, which officially opened in fall 2020.
  • Act on the six-year capital plan recommended by the President and 2022 demand for state capital.
  • Discuss the University’s budget model in an overview provided by Vice President and Chief Budget Officer Julie Tonneson.
  • Review the master plan of the Twin Cities campus.
  • Receive an update on the Twin Cities Campus Restoration Program, including the next steps in awarding a contract for restoration operations in the coming years.
  • Act on appointments to the Board of Trustees of the University of Minnesota Foundation.
  • Receive an overview of the Positioned for Excellence, Alignment and Knowledge implementation plan (PEAK) Initiative, a system-wide effort to identify opportunities in non-academic functions to increase efficiency or gain capacity to advance the University’s teaching, research and outreach mission.
  • Begin a series of discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion work on each of the University’s five campuses, starting with a focus on the Twin Cities.

For more information, including times of upcoming meetings, visit

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