Some disruptive insights

3D printing of food

As a society, we are becoming increasingly concerned about what goes into our food, especially the components of meals that have been processed using ingredients that are invisible to us. Unless we are cooking from raw ingredients, we are currently at the mercy of food manufacturers when it comes to ensuring that our meals contain good quality produce. The only way to be completely aware of the contents of our meals would be to cook everything from scratch, but most of us haven’t the time or inclination to do this daily. Producers have addressed this concern by advertising the use of higher quality (usually ‘organic’) ingredients. However, advancements in 3D printing may hold a different answer. Food printers use the principles of additive manufacturing to create food items at the point of consumption using fresh ingredients that you are in control of. Though the technology is still in its infancy, trial printers have successfully printed pizzas. This means that instead of wondering about the contents of your supermarket frozen pizza, you know exactly what has gone into your meal. The printers are still slow but depending on advances in the next few years, we may expect to see the technology appear in household and restaurant kitchens to automate the production of relatively simple items, cutting out a previously integral step in the food chain.

Vivo phone under-screen fingerprint reader

The smartphone industry is faced with an increasingly pressing issue: the increase in the screen-to-body ratio of mobiles is resulting in a lack of space for a fingerprint reader. Most manufacturers have focused on solving this problem head-on by exploring how best to make space for the reader on a device. By framing the issue in this way, they limited the range of possible solutions to making the reader smaller, the phone bigger, or shrinking other elements of the phone to make space. That’s the most ‘logical’ way of problem-solving in this case. Vivo asked a question that nobody else was thinking of: what if we eliminated the issue of the reader and the rest of the phone competing for space altogether? That’s how they came up with the idea of creating a combined screen/reader. This disruptive thinking provided an innovative solution beyond the realms of conventional thought. The idea and subsequent development are poised to change the smartphone industry in the near future.

SpaceX rocket

Space flight is expensive. The cost of launching satellites varies greatly depending on the type of instrument, but some can cost $400 million. Coupled with budget cuts for agencies such as NASA and the ESA and it’s clear to see why entities seeking to put satellites into orbit would want to cut the cost of launching them. Such agencies have tried endlessly to lower costs by looking to cut the expense of single-launch rockets, exploring ways to acquire fuel more cheaply, to make engines more efficient or to reduce the costs of making the rockets. Elon Musk’s SpaceX could cause a paradigm shift in space flight. The company is attempting to build a rocket that lands itself back on the ground after completing its flight, allowing for multiple use. This idea has enabled SpaceX to reduce its average cost per launch to nearly $60 million, with the ambition to cut this further to $10 million in the near future.