Could ultrasound transform how we use our mobile devices?

'The future of touch is sound,' a recent Reuters article claims. But what does this mean exactly, and how might it impact the workplace?

According to the article, ultrasound technology - which we normally associate with unborn babies and cancer treatment - could transform the way we interact with our smartphones and tablets. Combine this with a new form of wave that's currently being developed by a startup company in the UK, and things start to look even more interesting.

British startup Ultrahaptics is partnering with Jaguar Land Rover to develop invisible, air-based controls which drivers can feel and adjust - for example, to turn down the radio or adjust the car's temperature - using only hand motions.

The technology means that users don't actually have to touch anything. As Tom Carter, co-founder and CTO of Ultrahaptics explains, "the controls find you in the middle of the air and let you operate them."

This type of sensor technology isn't necessarily anything new - think of Nintendo's Wii, for example - but it does take things a step further.

The implementation of ultrasound technology has the potential to move our interaction with devices from the 2D to the 3D. Some companies, such as Japanese startup Pixie Dust Technologies, are exploring combining mid-air haptics with tiny lasers, to create visible holograms of the controls.

When applied to the workplace, this could result in the ability to display and manipulate computer data in mid-air, using only our hands.

Of course, we've been promised this sort of sci-fi technology before, not only in movies such as Iron Man and Minority Report, but by researchers as well. In Japan, Hiroyuki Shinoda - known as the father of mid-air haptics - has been developing the concept of ultrasound tactile displays since the '90s.

But while the idea is still a work in progress, a mid-air gesture interface that combines touch and visuals could well be appearing in offices of the future.

Why Google is taking a closer look at disrupting health care

Not content with pretty much owning the Internet, Google is now setting its sights on the healthcare tech sector, investing some £32.5 million in health
insurance startup Oscar.

According to the GIGAOM website, the news marks Google's first investment since the announcement that it would become a subsidiary of Alphabet.

Google Capital is a growth equity fund that's part of Google/Alphabet's investment arm. Previous endeavours have included Glassdoor, Duolingo and Survey
Monkey; and now, Oscar Health Insurance Corporation.

Oscar uses the latest technology combined with intuitive design to distinguish itself from other health insurance providers, giving customers more
control over their healthcare options. With clearly defined coverage choices, the ability to connect directly with healthcare providers and the power to
monitor their care, the tech is set to revolutionise the US health sector.

There are some other startups also looking to move the industry forwards, however. Pistachio, a customer-facing insurance solution from Accordion
Health, allows customers to compare Medicare Advantage plans simultaneously, again giving them more decision-making power.

As Sriram Visiwanath, Accordion Health's CEO explains: "Oscar is a starting point for a huge change in health care, and we are working just as hard (or
harder) in bringing about consumerism within health care through our tools."

"We have a fraction of the resources of Oscar," he added, "but the same shared goal of making health plan risk management way more operationally,
financially efficient, consumer-driven and UX-centric."

As tools such as Oscar and Pistachio enter the market and give customers more options and information, it's likely to move the industry forwards because
expectations will begin to shift. Kate McCarthy - a healthcare analyst at Forrester Research - explains that, "More plans are being offered with high
deductibles. This shifts much of the upfront investment in health expenses to the patient... In turn, this is pushing patients/consumers to expect more
options in [...] and greater transparency."

Oscar is currently only available in New York and New Jersey, but there are plans to expand into California and Texas next year.

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The Future Of Work Is About Flexibility, Autonomy, And Customization

There has been a lot of discussion and debate about the Future of Work lately, from robots stealing our jobs to workers commuting to the office on hover boards. This global movement will change the way we think about work itself, and the way we fulfil our roles in the workplace - and there's a lot of areas to cover; including technology, HR, management and employee experience.

In order to help focus these thoughts, a recent Forbes article described the three most fundamental shifts that organizations throughout the world are going to start experiencing now and in the near future.


We are already seeing employers offer more freedom and flexibility to their staff. In fact, for many younger workers it's now a prerequisite to applying for or accepting a job, over and above pay or other employee benefits. Although flexible hours are still not the norm, most businesses are now considering it or looking to implement it into their policy. Rather than focusing on a work-life balance, future work environments will be about work-life integration, allowing staff to get their work done wherever and whenever they wish - as long as the quality isn't affected.


No longer just for freelancers, autonomy is going to be expected in nearly every role as it ties in with flexibility. Forget the outdated notion of managers peering over their team members' shoulders; workers will have to be self-motivated and able to manage themselves. They will also have to become more adaptable as traditional workplace hierarchies begin to crumble, calling for collaboration across the company.


As previously mentioned, employees of the future may not just be working for one department - or even one company - but will be working within multiple departments or for multiple employers. Just as customization is becoming increasingly popular for consumers, so workers will be able to customize aspects of their roles, selecting the tasks, projects and responsibilities that are right for them. At Deloitte, for example, staff can already choose their workload, pace, the amount of travelling they are happy to do, and what their employee personality is - for example, if they see themselves as a leader.