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Growing Technology

RSS By: Ben Potter,

Technology editor Ben Potter brings you the latest in technology news, and how you can apply it to farming.


Invisible Keyboards and Other Future Farming Marvels

Mar 14, 2014

It pays to have a good imagination in farming, but even when you do, the future often looks pretty foggy.

If someone told us 10 years ago about some of today’s latest technological advances – 10 mph planters, multi-hybrid planters, drones, Google Glass, take your pick – most of us would have written it off as science fiction. Yet all of these technologies are very real and ready to be used in agriculture.

In that spirit, here are two concepts today that look like "sci-fi farming" but might become a reality on tomorrow’s farm.

1. Invisible keyboards. Well, they’re not exactly invisible, but no one will be able to see them but you. Samsung is working on a Google Glass competitor that will feature an augmented reality keyboard. That means you will be able to see an alphabet projected onto your hands and type in characters using your thumbs. (See an illustration of how it would work here.) It looks pretty useful, although it would make texting-while-driving even more incredibly dangerous than it already is!

2. Spider silk tow cables. Scientists have been trying to tap into the spider’s homespun technology for years now. This miracle of nature is, by weight, five times stronger than steel and three times tougher than Kevlar. Potential applications include superstring cables and lightweight heat-resistant clothing. It’s not hard to imagine how that might translate to tow cables, welding clothing and various other uses on the farm. Several small companies are claiming progress in production practices, according to Chemical & Engineering News. Among the hosts that can carry the spider silk gene is alfalfa – so farmers might not only be using spider silk on their farms in the future, they might be growing it, too.

Whatever the future may bring, there’s plenty of reason for optimism, says ag futurist Lowell Catlett. He says the coming decade should be one of the most exciting in agriculture.

"Do not punt on this one," he says. "Get ready!"

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