Technology

The evolution of technology – Changing the art of the possible

Image of smartphone

Technology is integrated in our lives today in ways that seem natural, yet must seem so surprising to earlier generations.  Although, I should also say that I think that sometimes we really should be without our technology – too much focus can also hinder our appreciation of the world around us.  So, keeping it in balance can enable so much, which for me is really important in two ways – keeping close to my family, and reminding me to stay healthy.

Like most people in our world, I spend a lot of time visiting customers, conferences, and travel to other partners – just this quarter Plasma Technology is attending or exhibiting at a dozen different events.  The technology that enables me to be present at such events, yet be present (at least by video) with my family at their events is really just amazing, and shows how much the work of Plasma Technology customers has contributed to society.  Earlier this year, my wife completed the naturalization process to become a US citizen at a closing ceremony in Orlando, Florida at a time when I was travelling in the UK.  Although I would have loved to be there in person, we decided (in a fitting use of technology) that I would share the experience by Facetime, so my children had the role of holding the camera, and shared this major milestone in life with me.  I suppose this example shows how we can fulfil our need to live life in the moment, and to keep intimacy even halfway across the world.  We celebrated again when we were together – which just added to the experience.

One of the other neat technologies I appreciate is the Global Positioning System (GPS).  I really admire how innovation in life-enabling technology has been built upon an infrastructure that was developed for accurate navigation of military assets.  It serves as a reminder that investment in technologies to protect nations, along with the strategic programs funded by governments, can breathe life in the commercial world.  So, how do I appreciate this technology?  This year I have set myself the goal of running a total of 1000 miles, which might sound like a big number, but only comes down to three miles per day (allowing for a few days off each month).  The tiny GPS chip in my GPS watch, and the even smaller one in my iPhone, is helping me to effortlessly and accurately keep track of my progress – I do sometimes wish they would add a few miles to my total on those days when it is cold and wet outside.  Such technology is the result of many hours of work by our customers to create a GPS receiver chipset in silicon, so tiny and powerful, that like many sensors, they integrated in our daily lives.  Looking to the future, we see a world where more and more power efficient sensors will help us to stay safe and live more fulfilled lives. Now, we just need to remember to put down our smartphones a little more often….  For me that means chance for a few more miles towards that goal!

Family picture at naturalization ceremony and picture of Richard running

Author: Richard Pollard, Managing Director, Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology

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