What's Emerging mid-February 2021

A newsletter on interesting stuff that is emerging around the world so you can think about strategy


Welcome to our second newsletter for 2021. Melbourne is back in lockdown as we prepare this newsletter but hopefully it will be a short sharp one this time.

In the next few weeks, Paul will continue with two councils on their community vision, running offsite sessions for a new leadership team in the food sector, and working on strategy and foresight for a listed ASX company. Paul will also continue to work on the project looking at the industrialisation of robots and building a consortium model to new organisational approaches in the not for profit sector.

Paul is also acting as lead partner for a Social Venture Partners Melbourne pro bono project with Little Dreamers, a fantastic organisation helping young people who are caring for a family member.

We continue to build our Red Teaming initiative. You can read more about Red Teaming here or you can see the amazing breadth of our team here. More members will be added in coming weeks.

If you want to talk about the use of foresight or red teaming in your strategy for 2021 then please Contact Us.

We also have a couple of invitations to Clubhouse, the invite only beta version of the social media experiment in audio chats. At this stage it is only for Apple users - iPhone or iPad. The first two people to respond will get the invite.

The Emergent Futures Team

In case you missed it. The most popular link from the last edition:

Synthetic biology 2020–2030: six commercially-available products that are changing our world

Synthetic biology will transform how we grow food, what we eat, and where we source materials and medicines.…….Read more

What are we Writing About?

Paul has written: Are we entering a period of increased uncertainty? Scenarios to help you think about that. The article discusses the uncertainty around vaccine efficacy in the face of new COVID variants and what that might mean for Australia

. You can go to our HOME PAGE and look under our latest work to read both posts.

What’s Emerging?

See GM's futuristic delivery vehicle: Brightdrop!

an interesting platform play that goes way beyond selling electric vehicles

Haptx debuts new version of touch-feedback gloves

Haptx believes virtual reality will never be fully immersive until it offers a sense of touch. So it’s launching the second version of its Haptx touch-feedback gloves for VR applications. Paul: This could have applications in e-commerce, giving people the ability to touch and handle products in VR ….. Read more

Twitter is already working on integrating newsletters on its site, following Revue acquisition

It appears “Newsletters” will soon be the newest addition to Twitter’s sidebar navigation, alongside Bookmarks, Moments, Twitter Ads and other options. The company is also readying a way to promote the new product to Twitter users, promising them another way to reach their audience while getting paid for their work ..…. Read more

Australian invention will see 'transformational' scaling up of quantum computers

Most quantum computers operate close to absolute zero (minus 273 degrees Celsius, or 30 times colder than interstellar space), but also need to be wired to a standard "control chip" that runs at room temperature. These wires transfer data, but also heat. As more qubits are installed, more wires are needed to control them, and the task of keeping the qubits cool becomes harder.

A team of engineers and scientists from the University of Sydney and Microsoft solved this problem by inventing a control chip that can operate at the same temperature as the qubits. ….. Read more


Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists.. .…. Read more

The Airbnb of retail: Why DTC furniture startup Outer uses customer homes as showrooms

The outdoor furniture company pays its customers to turn their backyards into “showrooms,” which prospective new shoppers can check out as they’re deciding whether or not to buy a sofa or a rug from Outer . Paul : one of the possible solutions to what happens to marketing and trial of products if shops disappear….. Read more

Microsoft buys carbon credits from NSW cattle operation

PROGRESSIVE NSW beef operation Wilmot Cattle Co has struck a deal with global technology giant Microsoft to sell around half a million dollars worth of carbon credits. The credits come in the form of more than 40,000 tonnes of sequestered soil carbon, which the livestock operation has been able to achieve through sophisticated grazing management.….. Read more

Airline Uses VR To Reduce Travel

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is setting a course to a brand new destination—-virtual reality. KLM, the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands, merged with Air France in 2004, and now has over 95,000 employees with offices located in Paris, France, Toulouse, France, Valbonne, France, and Amsterdam, Netherlands. The company has now landed in Glue, a Helsinki-based remote collaboration virtual reality (VR) platform, to aid their now virtual meetings. Paul : now that’s a signal about the future of business travel when an airline is openly saying it is trying to reduce its own travel ..…. Read more

Nissan's 'office pod' imagines a new kind of remote working

Inspired by the new realities of the Covid-19 era, Nissan's concept vehicle features a retractable office for remote workers and digital nomads. Dubbed Office Pod Concept, the mobile workspace comes with a modified Cosm chair by US furniture-maker Herman Miller, and desk space big enough for a large computer monitor. …..Read more

Boston Metal Expands Series B to Deliver Emissions-free Steel

“Boston Metal’s mission is to deliver emissions-free steel at global scale,” said Tadeu Carneiro, Chairman and CEO of Boston Metal. “Iron ore and clean electricity are the primary inputs into the MOE process and will heavily influence the design of our technology and our strategy. We are thrilled to add Vale and BHP, two of the largest iron ore companies, and Energy Impact Partners, a leading energy transition investor, to our world-class syndicate of investors and partners.” ….Read more

A 3D printed house is for sale in New York. Builders say it will cut housing construction costs

"The cost of construction is 50% cheaper than the cost of comparable newly-constructed homes in Riverhead, New York, and 10 times faster," said Stephen King, the Zillow Premier agent who has the 3D house listing.

The 3D printed house will include 1,407 square feet of living space and will be built with concrete. The home has three bedrooms, two baths and a 2.5-car detached garage. .…. Read more

Mount Sinai study finds Apple Watch can predict COVID-19 diagnosis up to a week before testing

The primary biometric signal that the study’s authors were watching was heart rate variability (HRV), which is a key indicator of strain on a person’s nervous system. This information was combined with information around reported symptoms associated with COVID-19, including fever, aches, dry cough, gastrointestinal issues, and loss of taste and smell, among others.

Paul: I am a little sceptical about this given the sample biases but it is worth keeping an eye on…. Read more

LG Rollable phone makes a CES appearance

Previously all we'd seen of LG's rollable was a dimly lit side-on view of what looked like a standard-sized phone that slid out into a slim tablet. But in this latest clip, the phone is shown in all its glory, with the display smoothly scrolling out to reveal an expanded screen -- like a small-scale version of its rollable TVs. Presumably, the screen will be able to expand and contract based on your needs, whether it's a mobile device on the go or a larger tablet for when you can sit down and focus on the content.  …..Read more

Scania Bets On BEVs, 40t Long-Range Truck Is Coming

Scania said that thanks to technology improvements (battery energy density, charging times) electric vehicles will "gradually overtake Scania’s industry-leading fossil and biofuel powered solutions in most transport applications" ...… Read more

Business Tips

ASHEN revisited

An interesting way of looking at what you need to get stuff done and how to make decisions from the ever interesting Dave Snowden. ASHEN stands for Artifacts, Skills, Heuristics (rules of thumb), Experience, and Natural Talent.…..Read more

Nordic walking, the strange Scandinavian sport helping people overcome injury

Paul: Not strictly a business tip but physical health is a big part of mental health and capacity and I am a big believer in walking to think.…… Read more

A book: Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

Paul: Understanding history is an important part of future thinking and I was very much taken by this review of the book by Cory Doctorow. So much so that I have bought the Kindle version to read and multiple copies of the hardback version to give away at conferences and workshops. Worth checking out.…. See more information

Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested in it and they can subscribe using the button below. Or contact us directly if you want to discuss any of the issues.