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May 28, 2014

Facing Tomorrowland

I made my first trip to Disney World when I was a young child. My parents loaded up the car, hooked up a travel trailer and we hit I-75 south during spring break. Disney was everything my young self wanted it to be. Cinderella’s castle, characters, Main Street, the Haunted Mansion and other rides—it was perfect.

For me, one attraction stood out more than the others—Space Mountain. It was cool, fast, dark, futuristic and a whole lot of fun, and that was just the actual ride. I remember the moving sidewalk after the ride that took visitors past a “home of the future.”

I was pretty enthralled with what they were showing. There was a video baby monitor, a dad having a video work meeting from the patio, a girl recording a sporting event on a giant television, a mother shopping by computer and more. So yeah, Disney pretty much nailed the “future” as all these things became standard in homes all across America very shortly after.

What seemed like crazy technology to me then is regular life now. It seems like technology has exploded in my lifetime. My grandmother had an old, bulky rotary phone. When I was growing up we had a phone in the kitchen with a long cord I would stretch into the hallway to close the door and have some privacy. Quickly after that came cordless and now what would I do without my iPhone?

Cars park themselves, drones make deliveries, wristbands monitor exercise, vacuums clean without a person pushing them, apps do everything and the world is virtually at our fingertips with the Internet. And those are just convenience things.

Think of all the life-saving technology that’s gone on in the last 20 years. How different do doctors work now than they used to? How much easier is it to save lives thanks to technological advances? Heck, the ICD that saved my life wasn’t even invented yet when I was born.

Everyday people are discovering new ways to use technology to make life easier. Take Steve Zeldes, for instance. Zeldes is a clinical assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology and an ophthalmologist in West Bloomfield, Mich.

Recently he had the opportunity to test-drive Google Glass. While others might look at its uses in gaming, Zeldes immediately started thinking about ways he could use it in clinical cases, more specifically how it could work with electronic records. Read his FACULTY VOICE: My Case for a Glass-ified EMR, to learn more about his experience and his thoughts on the topic.

All over campus, researchers are constantly working with or developing new technologies that will improve lives everywhere. It’s one of my favorite things about working at a university—innovation and brilliance are literally around every corner.

It’s not just professors and researchers making discoveries. Here at MSU, even undergraduates have opportunities to explore, create, design and make a difference. Recently, three engineering students designed a prototype of a blanket-like device that wraps around newborns suffering from jaundice, so that the babies can spend time in their parents’ arms rather than isolated under special lights. Read more about their project in the MSUToday story, “Away from the Light.”

Who knows? Maybe that technology will become standard in hospital neo-natal units. Maybe some of the 187 new medical doctors who recently graduated from MSU’s College of Human Medicine will even prescribe them. That’s the great thing about the future—no one really can predict it, but it’s a pretty good guess that more and more things will be invented to change the world for the better.

Those 187 new doctors certainly can’t predict their exact futures; they only know the next steps on their journeys. They’ll all start their medical careers somewhere. Some are new parents, some are newlyweds, some will serve their country in the military. Read the STUDENT VIEW: Docs Embark on New Journeys, to learn more about their class and where they’re headed.

There are no guarantees about the future. There isn’t a simple ride to go on that will show us all the cool things about to be invented. There’s no real way to know just what tomorrow will bring. But, no matter what we’ll see in our tomorrows, there is a guarantee that Spartans will be changing the world for the better.

Spartans Will.


Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday


Photo by G.L. Kohuth


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