Prototyping the Future Project

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

https://www.youtube.com/embed/AlmASHISmTM

Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary

Most technological advances are merely evolutionary in that they build incrementally upon what came before. Each evolutionary version introduces a slight variation that adds new features or enhances performance over its predecessor. But other advances take great technological leaps. These revolutionary innovations often spring from original, out-of-the-box thinking and introduce entirely new approaches to common problems.

Whether evolutionary or revolutionary, the impact that new technology has on our lives can be quite profound. Not only do these technological advances bring us new tools that help to make us more efficient or productive, but they oftentimes can completely change our daily routines and radically alter the ways we interact with the world around us.

What is the most revolutionary technological innovation in the last five years?

Make a list of at least 10 technological advances from the last five years. For each item on your list, decide whether it is evolutionary or revolutionary and consider how it has influenced people’s lives in the years since its introdution. Be prepared to share and discuss your findings with the class.

Technological Advances

Sometimes, innovation comes about solely from creative thought and imagination. However, more often than not, innovative ideas also rely on essential advances in technology. Without these achievements, even the most creative idea might not be feasible. Here, scientists and engineers push technology further by broadening scientific knowledge and inventing new tools and processes that others may use in bringing their ideas to reality.

For example, Facebook and other social networking sites would not be possible were it not for a host of other underlying technologies that make those sites possible, including the World Wide Web, TCP/IP networking protocols, web servers, web browsers, mobile phones, digital cameras, and of course, computers just to name a few. Until all of those technologies had been developed, what we know of as Facebook could never have existed.

What other technological dependencies can you think of?

Imagine your typical cell phone and all of the things that it can do. Make a list of at least 10 underlying technologies that had to exist before that phone could have been built. Then identify at least five things that you do all the time that you would not be able to do if cell phones did not exist. Be prepared to discuss your lists with the class.

Impact on Individuals and Society

Technological advances are made by people for people. Scientists, inventors, and developers all work hard to innovate new ideas and create new products that directly or indirectly affect the rest of us. In most cases, the impact we experience is a positive one as the technology improves or enhances our lives in some meaningful way (e.g., email correspondence, productivity software). Other times, technological advances also have an equally powerful down side (e.g., spam, computer viruses).

How has digital technology had an impact on your life?

Make a list of at least 10 forms of digital technology that directly impact your own life. As you make your list, try to identify examples that you think nobody else in the class will think to list themselves, but that at least one other person in the class will agree impacts them in the same way that you have described. Afterward, each student in the class will have the chance to name one example from his or her list to see if anybody else in the class shares that same relationship with that form of technology.

Assignment

Design a computing innovation that could someday revolutionize and enhance everyday life.

Working in pairs, your task is to invent a new technological product or service that might be possible within your lifetime. This is your computing to be as creative and imaginative as you would like as you and your partner conjure up the next new innovation to potentially revolutionize our digital world.

To begin your collaboration on this project, you and your partner should work together to identify recent technological trends and use those trends to imagine what might very well come next.

For starters, consider how technology has already advanced during your own life so far. What products, services, or technologies do you now rely on every day that did not exist when you were born? How have those technologies changed over time? Has the change occurred practically overnight or has it evolved gradually? How will these technologies continue to change in the near future? What do they allow you to do today that you could not do in the past? What can you still not do today that you hope to maybe do in the future?

These are the types of questions that futurists ask themselves when they ponder the possibilities that the future likely holds. As a budding young futurist yourself, your task is to use your imagination and your own, personal aspirations and desires to envision one or more of these possibilities and identify ways in which you might be able to someday change the world.

For this assignment, you will need to perform a series of tasks in the process of designing and documenting your own future innovation and its potential impact on society:

  • Identify a current problem that a technological advancement might solve.
  • Invent a computing solution to that problem.
  • Identify the key features of your solutions.
  • Identify the potential risks and benefits that your solution poses and how they might affect individuals and communities.
  • Identify the technological challenges that must be overcome before your solution can become a reality.
elevator pitch
A short presentation that summarizes a big idea and conveys all of the essential information quickly and succinctly. The term derives from the idea that an elevator is a great place to corner someone if you want to force them to hear your pitch for a new idea. But you only have a very limited amount of time to deliver your spiel before the elevator reaches the person’s floor and they escape get out.

At the end of this unit, you and your partner will deliver a 2–3 minute “elevator pitch” in which you will demonstrate your idea to the rest of the class and attempt to inspire them get behind your vision of the future. After each presentation, you will also provide written feedback to your peers on the potential of the innovations they presented.

Submission

Your submission will be in the form of written report and an “elevator pitch” presentation that you will give to the class that introduces your vision of the future.

Your report should include the following sections:

  • Purpose: Describe a problem that your computing innovation seeks to address and what purpose it will ultimately serve (e.g., entertainment, problem solving, education, artistic expression). Note: Your innovation must be a computing innovation (i.e,. includes the use of a computer or program code as an integral part of its functionality).
  • Description: Provide a detailed description of your idea, what it would look like, and how it would work or be used.
  • Features: Provide list of key features that your innovation will possess.
  • Benefits: Identify multiple ways that future individuals and/or communities will benefit from your computing innovation in relation to their society, culture, or economy.
  • Risks: Identify the potential harmful effects that your computing innovation might introduce in society, culture, or economy (e.g., security, privacy, social disparity, physical harm). Data Concerns: Explain how the computing innovation consumes, transforms, or produces data.
  • Technological Challenges: Identify any technological challenges or limitations that must be overcome before your innovation can become a reality (e.g., security, privacy, data storage).

For your “elevator pitch,” you should prepare the following items:

  • A written script for a 2–3 minute presentation
    • Introduce the idea.
    • Identify the innovation’s primary problem or use case.
    • Describe the how the innovation would work.
    • Describe how society would benefit from your innovation.
  • A multimedia presentation that includes a simulation of your innovation
    • Highlight the key features of your innovation.
    • Demonstrate how someone would use your innovation.
    • Include speculations about the benefits and risks of your innovation.

Rubric

Rubric

Content Area Performance Quality
Written Report: Purpose
The computing innovation uses computing or program code as an integral part of its functionality.

AND

Report states a fact about the correctly identified computing innovation’s intended purpose.

The computing innovation uses computing or program code as an integral part of its functionality.

OR

Report states a fact about the correctly identified computing innovation’s intended purpose.

The innovation described in the report is not a computing innovation.

Not enough criteria are met in order to award any credit.
Written Report: Description and Features
The computing innovation uses computing or program code as an integral part of its functionality.

AND

Report describes the computing innovation.

AND

Report identifies features pertaining to the computing innovation.

The computing innovation uses computing or program code as an integral part of its functionality.

AND

Report describes the computing innovation.

OR

Report identifies features pertaining to the computing innovation.

The computing innovation uses computing or program code as an integral part of its functionality.

OR

Report describes the computing innovation.

OR

Report identifies features pertaining to the computing innovation.

Not enough criteria are met in order to award any credit.
Written Report: Benefits and Risks
Report identifies a beneficial effect of the identified or described computing innovation.

AND

Report identifies a harmful effect of the identified or described computing innovation.

AND

Report explains how the identified effects relates to society, economy, or culture.

Report identifies a beneficial effect of the identified or described computing innovation.

OR

Report identifies a harmful effect of the identified or described computing innovation.

AND

Report explains how the identified effects relates to society, economy, or culture.

Report identifies a beneficial effect of the identified or described computing innovation.

OR

Report identifies a harmful effect of the identified or described computing innovation.

OR

Report explains how the identified effects relates to society, economy, or culture.

Not enough criteria are met in order to award any credit.
Written Report: Data Concerns and Tech Challenges
Report identifies the data that the identified or described computing innovation uses.

AND

Report explains how that data is consumed, produced, or transformed.

AND

Report identifies one challenge related to the computing innovation.

Report identifies the data that the identified or described computing innovation uses.

OR

Report explains how that data is consumed, produced, or transformed.

AND

Report identifies one challenge related to the computing innovation.

Report identifies the data that the identified or described computing innovation uses.

OR

Report explains how that data is consumed, produced, or transformed.

OR

Report identifies one challenge related to the computing innovation.

Not enough criteria are met in order to award any credit.
Elevator Pitch: Presentation
The presentation highlights the key features of the innovation.

AND

The presentation includes speculation about the benefits and risks of the innovation.

AND

The presentation is aesthetically pleasing.

The presentation highlights the key features of the innovation.

AND

The presentation includes speculation about the benefits and risks of the innovation.

OR

The presentation is aesthetically pleasing.

The presentation highlights the key features of the innovation.

OR

The presentation includes speculation about the benefits and risks of the innovation.

OR

The presentation is aesthetically pleasing.

Not enough criteria are met in order to award any credit.
Elevator Pitch: Script
Script is submitted prior to the presentation.

AND

Script is complete and thorough, describing the full presentation.

Script is submitted prior to the presentation.

OR

Script is complete and thorough, describing the full presentation.

Script is incomplete and/or late.

Not enough criteria are met in order to award any credit.
Partner Participation
Both team members participate for about the same length of time.

AND

Both team members are able to answer questions about the topic as a whole, not just their part of it.

Both team members participate for about the same length of time.

OR

Both team members are able to answer questions about the topic as a whole, not just their part of it.

Both team members participate, but not equally.

Not enough criteria are met in order to award any credit.