William, I know what you mean about vaporware. In this case, the demos are pretty convincing--the technology is definitely there. This company has also been around a while. The thing I wonder about is whether the technology will turn into products. I'm sure we've all seen many examples of software and especially hardware that never make it past the development stage. That's usually not because of technology, but because of other factors harder to pin down than specs or performance, such as manufacturability, the company's ability to sell or communicate benefits, market timing, and existing competition.
It is certainly true that thereis a potential for some good camoflage clothing, and at least some very quickly changing covers. Not quite as good as shape-shifters, but certainly able to avoid identification, if not detection.
As for additional information about the product, I wonder if it is a bit like an air motor that I wrote about for this publication a few years back. There were to many details missing, and now the whole product is missing.
I would watch this company, but not invest a lot in them just yet, since it does sound just to amazing to be true.
William, there's a link to the manufacturer, Plastic Logic, in the first line of the story. There are no distributors yet to my knowledge. I would have liked a lot more info on the technology, too. The website gives only a smidgen of information and I didn't get much else in the interview. The company is playing it pretty close to the vest.
Flexible displays, + clothing that generates electricity from temperature differentials : put these together and you have a military uniform that can do active camoflage. The soldier can "almost" disappear in the surroundings.
"Market Demand" is one of those ongoing lies that marketing wonks use to drive the addition of features that nobody asked for and few would use. It is primarily used as a tool for "product differentiation", since most of that type of marketing has long ago abandoned quality as a product atribute. Note that I define a quality product as one that meets it's specifications long after the warranty has expired, even if it is a one year warranty.
The flexible color display is certainly in a position to find quite a few unanticipated applications, both graphic and text-based.
More information about the driving format and temperature range would be handy, as well as a link to the manufacturer or distributors.
I agree about kids being great beta testers, Rob. In this case, it sounds like the technology may be kid-ready, judging by the line in the story that says it can be cut with scissors and stomped with a boot, and still keep ticking.
From my experience, market "demand" is a vague, often fluffy term, and not always a real driver, especially once non-technical consumers became customers. Your mom and my nephew can't demand what they don't know exists. Once they've seen what a cellphone or iPad can do, that's a different story. But that's way over at the end user link in the chain and the system phase of design, which so many different elements feed into. OTOH, engineers can certainly demand better design tools and more intelligent and capable manufacturing infrastructure, since those are real identifiable needs. And demand for products, designs or services certainly exists that never gets satisfied, as we've seen often in our comments sections.
Good points, Ann. I have always thought customer demand was the most important driver for technology development. But mauybe not. when it comes to new materials, you've covered tons of technology development that had nothing to do with demand.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
A fun and informative tour you can attend at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis, MD&M Minneapolis, and other events there, is the Materials Innovation Tour on Wednesday afternoon. I'll be leading it.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies.
You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived.
So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.