Monthly Archives: September 2017

Trends in Dental Technology

Here is a question I have been pondering: with all of our technological advances, how can we create a quick, painless, less-expensive trip to the dentist? This seems to me to be an area ripe for improvement so I set out to research the latest in dental technology. I am hoping that some of these technologies will show up in my next visit. Here are some trends that are changing dentistry in the 21st century.

Lasers

Lasers are not new but they are still an emerging technology in dentistry. A laser can drill tooth material as well as a traditional drill but faster and with less pain, and they can provide pinpoint accuracy when removing cavities. They also remove the need for injections to deaden the tooth and surrounding areas. A different wavelength laser is used to activate a bleach substance to speed tooth whitening. Lasers can also be used to help harden a filling and improve bonding to existing tooth material.

Digital Imaging

Digital scans are beginning to replace old x-rays. They produce 90% less radiation than the old film method and they do not require processing so the image is available immediately. A digital probe that can move between teeth is available as well. The probe is small enough to be comfortable but comes with its own light source and can take video or still shots. This technology makes scans quicker, safer and more accurate.

3-D Printing

This is still in the development stage but should be coming soon to a dentist’s chair near you. A dentist could provide an image from the tool discussed above and then print a new tooth or a crown for an existing tooth. The process will be much quicker, although not instant, than creating a mold and sending it out to a lab to be made and then fitted and shaped during a second visit. This technology could benefit patients through lower cost and faster turnaround.

Remineralization

Some devices are being introduced that claim to remineralize teeth through a few micro-amps of electricity. Remineralization takes place naturally through eating or drinking calcium rich foods. These devices promise to accelerate that process so that teeth repair themselves and rebuild strong enamel, which would fight off cavities. This is a new technology and could prove to be revolutionary.

Thoughts

All of these emerging technologies are designed to reduce costs for the patient and the dentist, speed up routine procedures and reduce or eliminate pain. They will all require a fairly sizable investment from dental professionals so they may be slow to appear. My big question is this: when will we have do-it-yourself dentistry? I’d like to remineralize my own teeth or print a new one should something go wrong. I think the answer is that we will always need a professional but the procedure will become a lot easier.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Smartphones: What Comes Next

Photograph of woman wearing futuristic high-tech glasses.Samsung recently introduced its new Galaxy Note 8 which has updated features such as advanced security, memory management, a new display, enhanced cameras and wireless charging. Apple is expected to announce the new iPhone 8 today with similar technology enhancements. The announcement and rollout of updated smartphones is becoming an annual event anticipated by customers and tech followers alike. The technology continually improves and battery life gets extended, but the new devices look very similar to the original iPhone introduced in 2007. Some are looking beyond the incremental improvements and asking the question: what comes after the smartphone? What will computing and communication look like in the future? In this blog post I will explore some of those questions and some of the predictions. I look forward to your feedback and ideas as well.

What Comes Next

One of the new features of the Samsung device is the ability to dock it with a full size keyboard and monitor, thus expanding the computing power of the handheld. I still remember the first time I docked a laptop, which meant that I could get rid of the big box on top of or under my desk. Just as laptops have largely replaced the desktop box, it appears that the smartphone may take over the laptop for ease of use and functionality.

The small screen and keyboard on a smartphone are inconvenient at best and often are an outright pain. I can often be seen typing with my little finger because I can’t figure out how to get my thumbs any sharper. What if we could get away from the need for a keyboard for input and a screen for display? We are still using the QWERTY keyboard which was first laid out in 1872 in order to slow down typists, not to speed them up.

The Return of Glass?

In an April ZDNet article, Steve Ranger predicts that we will move away from the smartphone and towards Google Glass type devices coupled with virtual and augmented reality. That satisfies my criteria by replacing the screen with a projected image and the keyboard with voice commands such as those spoken to Siri and Alexa and Bixby. Google Glass was great technology but it had an image problem and was not well received by those not wearing the glasses. There were concerns about privacy stemming from the fact that they had a camera that could be turned off and on with minimal indication, allowing covert use. There were also safety concerns, since wearers could easily be distracted while crossing a busy street, although staring down at a smartphone clearly has its own safety issues. The Glass technology is ready, but there is still a stigma to its use and acceptance.

My Wish List

I wish for a device that is always connected to the cloud and lets me project several large screens at once on surfaces such as a wall, a building, a sidewalk or even suspended in air. I also want to be able to share that image with others at any time. I want it to flawlessly understand my voice commands and dictation and understand contextually where I am at and what I might request next. I want it to connect seamlessly to other devices such as my smart car and my smart home devices. Finally, I would like to get rid of the small device in my pocket or in my hand so I can be free to explore the natural world with full attention.

Thoughts

What does your ultimate computing/communications device look like? Are we close to your vision or are there still some hurdles to overcome? Let me know what your dream device looks like.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

The Future of Commuting: Autonomous Transportation

Last year I wrote about flying cars. The first flying car school had just opened in rural Roosevelt, Utah to teach people to fly the Pal-V Liberty from the Dutch company Pal-V.  I wrote about the idea that individuals would soon be able to drive a combination car/plane. There are still questions about FAA licensing, training, and potential safety regulations. Pal-V is one of several companies worldwide that are working on these flying cars.

Airbus division A3 recently announced they will begin testing pilotless air-taxis this fall from an air hanger in Pendleton, Oregon. Competitors, including Boeing, are testing this same idea for autonomous short-range flight. There are a number of technologies converging on the problem of breaking traffic jams and I will highlight some of these in this blog.

The Jetsons Meet Uber

The Jetsons animated cartoon from the early 1960s portrayed a space age family that had flying cars, robots, and video-conferencing systems. I believe this show and others at the time helped shape our vision of what is possible in travel and everyday commuting. Once cutting edge, technologies such as electric cars and autonomous vehicles are giving way to experimentation with flying cars and autonomous planes, and several companies are hoping to have a commercial product available as early as 2020.

All of this is made possible by technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced battery development. In the case of Uber, they quickly went from a ride hailing service using smartphone and GPS technology to testing autonomous taxis in an experiment with Volvo. The next step for them, as with Boeing and Airbus, is autonomous, flying taxis through their Elevate program.

So Close but yet so Far

I have not yet seen any unpiloted planes over my house but they will soon make test flights at rural airports like that in Pendleton. A number of these experiments are with vertical take off and landing (VTOL) crafts. This means that they can take off and land like a helicopter but fly like a plane. While they are not as large as a helicopter they still need room to maneuver so will need a field or a helipad. There are logistical problems to overcome, like a lack of helipads, what airspace they will fly in, reliability and safety. The anticipated 2020 commercial service launch is not that far away so these issues will have to be worked out soon.

Thoughts

Would you be the first passenger in a driverless flying taxi? How might they change our cities? Would people choose to live in rural areas knowing they could easily get to work or would they continue to flock to urban centers as they are doing now? How would this technology change our lives? I am excited for the future. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.