All good problems have more than one angle. Let’s examine the problem of niche underground authors from two such angles!
First, imagine this: You’re an author. That is to say, writing is your passion. Never mind the fact that you’re effectively a professional barista, 3 years of experience and counting, that’s far from the point. You are an *author*, and a great one!
You’ve written 5 manuscripts in the last 3 years, 2 stirring novels about love and loss, and 3 philosophical short stories about finding meaning. Sometimes you show your work to the customers. They love it. Your manager doesn’t.
You’ve sent your work to countless publishers. In the beginning you had hope, just like J.K. Rowling, that you’d prove them wrong, all the agents who dismissed you carelessly. You’re starting to lose that hope. But you remain an author. It is who you are.
Next, imagine this: You are an avid reader. You have torn through all the classics in fiction and non-fiction alike, and you eat up the best-seller lists and critics’ recommendations faster than they can be produced.
You are starting to feel a level of same-ness. There is a comfortable homogenous mix of topics and methods that never stray very far from the norm. You want more.
You want rare pieces, new perspectives, amazing thinkers, something that’s not on the main stream. But it is non-existent. Anything that makes it into a bookstore is mainstream, otherwise the publisher would have waved it lazily away as too risky to print.
It is somewhat obvious when you lay it out like this, that if you could supply these hungry readers with the special books they so crave, and at the same time could publish these author/baristas and make dreams come true, you are on to something. So, the solution is elegant.
Publish and print niche books in tiny batches, and send to readers who are hungry for unique and personal content for their collections.
Because of your own burning passion for making people’s dreams come true, for expanding people’s horizons, and for exposing the world to more opinions that the mainstream ones that end up on the bestseller lists.
Thoughts on Method:
Concept for authors: Get your work out there and appreciated.
Concept for readers: Get access to new and unique material, sign up for a new book each month, guaranteed small print volume and unknown gem authors.
Make sure to keep total print volume per piece low. Maximally one book per club member, and no 2nd editions in most cases. Keep it special, keep it high end.
Plenty of print shops exist that will print tiny batches of books. Any author could do this on their own. If you build an audience large enough, you will be able to do it a little cheaper, but this is not where you win. You win because you connect people, you provide authors with an outlet, and you provide avantgarde readers with a way to breathe new ideas and perspectives.
The age of mass advertising is dead. You must not find an author, print 500 books, and try to find readers. Instead you must find the hungry readers, and ask them what they want. In that endeavour it’s a powerful asset for you if you’re already in the underground literature arena, so you know who to start talking to. If you’re a stock MBA you’ll have trouble empathising fully with the target market. Although perhaps some authors could help uncover their potential readers to some degree too.
Technically, you have two markets here, and it’s up to you where the primary cashflow should derive. However, if you adopt a free model for authors and premium model for book club members, you are adapting best to where the real money is at.
Picture the scene. You’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment in your local health centre. The décor is disconcerting, the crowd is tense the seats are rigid and the wait is long. And this is the best case scenario. Find yourself in a developing economy, and perhaps there aren’t enough doctors available and your nearest hospital is out of reach.
Innovations are happening at a phenomenal scale in order to meet the challenges of populations’ healthcare needs. Here are some of those geared towards consultation, diagnosis and treating some conditions, that could paint a picture of how future systems could work (the science of surgery and medicine is beyond the scope of this article). As you will see, the common theme is taking these processes out of inefficient outpatient/doctor visit systems and bringing them closer to the patient.
AI Services: bringing your doctor to you
A cliché of science fiction films you are probably familiar with is artificial intelligence taking the place the role that humans used to play. But future doctor appointments might be done in this way.
A company called Babylon, who specialise in telehealth, recently extended their app which allows users to consult with a doctor from their phone. Already available in the UK and Ireland, it was launched in Rwanda in May. In an interview with Healthcare Business International, a healthcare specialist business publication, the head of product, Prem Sharma, claimed the app already has 300,000 users and 100 doctors giving health advice.
Alongside the app, a new AI triage tool has been launched. Users talk about their symptoms and the app uses a huge database of symptoms and possible causes in order to best diagnose the patient and advise on course of action. The advice could be easy treatment options, or recommendations to visit a pharmacist or doctor.
Symptom checking tools already exist on websites like WebMD and the NHS’s main site. However, putting this dynamic into app form allows for a more direct evaluation. It also has the potential to develop and improve to a greater extent than a website, by storing medical records and keeping track of its visitors.
With algorithms becoming more sophisticated apps like Babylon’s AI service will become more and more responsive and finely tuned to the needs of the patient. Symptoms, age, background, medical history, location and public health information could all be combined to create an interface that is as close to a doctor as is possible.
And combined with holographic technologies like Microsoft’s HoloLens, you could find yourself talking to a virtual doctor and receiving real-time information: or a real doctor if they are available, but if the AI technology goes far enough there might not be much of a difference!
POCT: sending data to your doctor
In another article I speculated on the future of healthcare being a skype session with your doctor and a home testing kit by your side. Turns out we’re already moving in that direction.
POCT stands for point-of-care-testing: at its most obvious, it is patients using devices at home to test themselves, sending the information to medical experts for analysis and diagnosis. The growth of this technology will take pressure off A&E departments and swamped local health centres by moving one aspect of the process to the patients’ home.
Not only would it relieve pressure on health service infrastructure, it would also make it easier for the extremely sick and elderly to receive attention without having to send someone to their home. It speeds up the process too, ensuring quick diagnosis of potentially life-threatening conditions. Right now it is generally used to patients already diagnosed with a condition, in order to take day-to-day readings of things like haemoglobin and cholesterol.
But the wider potential for this is huge, and you could imagine there one day being an all in one box for home testing. Would you have been taken seriously if 50 years ago you had said that most homes would have a collection of medication in their cupboards; including paracetamol, temperature takers, and an assortment of treatments for everything from allergies to the common cold?
In the same way, it is possible that one day diagnosis will be also easily done in the home, as common medication is readily available and affordable for most of us. You could quite easily fit tests for a dozen common illnesses in a handy home testing kit the size of a suitcase. The question now is when this becomes widely standardized.
Medical Wearables: tracking your data on an ongoing basis
These are all the rage this year. They combined the technology of wearable devices with biosensor capabilities. An example is the Valedo Back Therapy device which is aimed for those with back problems. A device attaches to your back and collects data which is then used by the companion app to recommend posture exercises.
Then there is the HealthPatch MD. This is a remarkably disposable patch that allows healthcare professionals to keep tabs on the vitals of their patients. With ECG electrodes and a 3 axis accelerometer, it can keep track of a patient’s heart rate, breathing, temperature, activity and even body position in case of a fall or accident. Of course, it can also connect to a companion app for data collection.
While Google Glass was discontinued last year, it remains an active project. Along with technologies like Microsoft’s HoloLens, it has huge potential for healthcare services in the future.
- Augmented reality for doctors and surgeons: having access to on-screen vitals at all times during surgery or appointments would make their job a lot easier
- Telemedicine: video calling your doctor with the command of your voice
- Virtual Dictation: rather than spending hours a day writing up and organising paperwork on patient data, experiments have successfully transcribed information from patient-doctor conversations into data
Many are sceptical over the viability of medical wearables and wearables in general, saying that we are not quite ready for them. Countless companies have gone under trying to establish their place in the market, and the discontinuation of Google Glass summed provided fuel to the fire of bio-wearables scepticism. But the amount of companies entering the market and the new products seen virtually every week are testament to them playing a huge role in the future delivery of healthcare.
The future for healthcare delivery?
I’ve only gone over healthcare delivery, as the actual science of healthcare is far beyond my reach and would be better found in a scientific journal. In terms of the bigger picture, this has barely scratched the surface.
But regarding diagnosis and testing, it should be clear that the future is one of: AI interfaces replacing the need to see a health professional; should that fail, telehealth allowing video calling with said health professional; POCT further taking one step of the healthcare system out of the hospital and closer to the patient; and wearables allowing for more responsive and personal health monitoring.
It should be no surprise that the most talked about innovations we are currently will seeing are those geared towards relieving the pressure on physical infrastructure and making a more responsive and efficient system for all. One huge problem for health service deliverers right now is ramping up services to meet the demand. The new technologies talked about here should go some way to taking all the hassle out of healthcare. Because who likes going to see their doctor?
Future… It sounds like emptiness, uncertainty, silence. No matter what we all think about it, sometimes all it brings is fear. Fear of the unknown.
Millions of different things and feelings pass through the life of every person. Someone’s future will be exactly as they imagine it, happy and full of joy, and someone’s sad and full of pain. I do not know whether we should be thinking about it all the time and hope for something better, or leave everything to fate. But is the fate even real? Some people say that we choose and create our own destiny. Maybe that is true, but every tomorrow is also a great mystery that only a few people can predict.
My future is right in front of me, unclear or real, and behind me only memories. Everyone would like to be in a situation where their brain generates a feeling of happiness, but in real life, it is not always possible. To achieve our goals, we often turn to the beaten track which we have previously passed and we discover some new life paths. However, before we go and seek happiness and more out of life, we need to ask ourselves whether we are happy or not, and whether, perhaps, we selfishly seek for great things? Therefore, we have to try to adapt to what our life and future give us.
When I compare my life with the life of individuals, I realise that, in fact, I have what I want, or what every person should have to live a normal life and I realise that everything in life is acquired in one or the other way. Thousands of people around the world do not have essential conditions for life, thousands of children do not have a roof over their head, food, or any satisfactory living conditions. Yes, I’m afraid of the future. But who isn’t?
I am aware that I get a lot from life, but I am also aware that I can lose everything in a second. It is ok to have your own goals, desires and plans. With a strong will and faith, we will be able to create ourselves a better future. Baby steps to a better future.
I couldn’t help it think about the technology and how it developed over the past few years. Can you imagine what will happen in near future, in 10 years?
The virtual reality will soon be part of our everyday lives. And I am absolutely sure about this because working some of the biggest IT companies on the planet are already working on it, including Microsoft.
This unique and new view of the future is definitely interesting because it presents a fascinating new way to interact with the world. Rather than having another boring presentation of a Windows project, Microsoft wowed everyone with their new holographic glasses – the HoloLens that is very much alike to the Google Glasses, but with a lot of new features. These glasses allow as to generate 3D graphic surfaces in the environment and play with them. We definitely did not expect anything like this. It is advanced and changes a lot of things.
I guess Microsoft worked on this a lot and probably in a cooperation with other companies. They kept the whole project secret for years so that they won’t have a competition. Yes, there are other virtual glasses, but they cannot be compared with the features of the HoloLens.
How does the HoloLens change the future?
This new innovative technology can significantly change the way we interact with our loved ones. Can you imagine communicating with your family that lives abroad? This type of communication will be almost the same as the face – to – face interaction, except for the fact that we will be wearing glasses. It is a new technology of teleportation in a form of holograms or as it is now called – holoportation.
How would you like the idea to walk on Mars? Well, with the help of the HoloLens people can now walk on Mars. Microsoft developed a cooperation with Nasa and the software OnSight. The users of the HoloLens can walk on the planet of Mars thanks to a 3D simulation of details gathered by the Curiosity car – sized robotic rover that is already a few years on Mars exploring the place. What impresses is the level of details this device gives us. In very near future, there will be even better connections with Curiosity and people will be able to give commands to the robot so that it can pay more attention to some places that they find interesting and all of that with the HoloLens.
Microsoft did not forget about the gamers. They understand how virtual reality is important to them. Microsoft’s gaming department found a new interesting way to make your games even better. With the HoloLens the Pokémon Go game can be simulated with the hologram so that you can play it everywhere. Finding and catching a Pokémon is an exciting adventure, but there are much bigger things that await us. Things that have a significance.
Everyday problems can now easily be shared. How? The HoloLens features a high – quality camera which allows other people to see what you are seeing at the moment. For example, if you have some kind of hardware problem with your laptop, you will be able to call an IT technician and fix the problems right away with the HoloLens. For example, if you need to replace your hard – disk the HoloLens will give you instructions to do that properly and put everything in its place. This functionality does not require an additional software; it can simply be used with the help of Skype video calls.
People will be able to design a holographic home. This is a great tool for the interior designers. They will be able to experience exciting changes, which will be good for the designer and the owner too. With the help of the HoloLens, the designer can show them the look of their home. And together, they can make changes and create the perfect home in a few minutes.
Engineers, industrial designers will be able to see their creation in space, instead of a screen. The HoloLens have an amazing functionality to send prepared 3D models for printing. The world is now ready for holograms. The best thing is that you won’t need to connect the device with your smartphone or laptop. It has the necessary hardware to connect with the world.
While wearing these glasses medical students will be able to project holograms in an extended reality and walk around anatomical bodies to see bones, muscles, organs. The autopsy of dead people for medical practice will not be needed anymore. In fact, with the help of the HoloLens doctors can simulate surgeries which will be a practice for them before they perform it on a human. This will significantly improve the success of the surgical procedure.
However, we will need some time to accept these glasses as an obligatory tool, but they show us that it is not about some concept, this is a real, important and big thing that we can expect in the near future.