Here are five indicators, observations or articles that caught the eye of FA futurists today.

Image: Matti Mattila, Flickr.

Drone delivery? A Philadelphia dry cleaner used an off-the shelf drone to successfully deliver 2 shirts to a nearby customer in a promotional gimmick. Current commercial technology requires a pilot for the drone and a spotter at the delivery site, but both issues will no doubt be solved in time.

Swiss researchers have demonstrated that they can use high-intensity, high-frequency sound waves to levitate particles and objects and move them about.

Global polling finds that the United States is viewed somewhat more favorably than China, but people increasingly expect China to supplant the US.

Researchers have discovered a mouse gene that controls how quickly calories are burned; disabling the gene causes mice to gain weight while eating and exercising normally. Though just one person is so far known to have a “disabling mutation” in the gene, the discovery may help explain why some individuals gain weight more easily than others.

An app that makes suggestions for outdoor leisure illustrates how algorithmic foresight may increasingly guide people’s lives.

Image: Herkie, Flickr

I’m pleased to report that an article I co-authored for The Futurist in 2012 has landed on the magazine’s list of its most popular stories of the year. Co-written with my longtime friend and colleague Chris Carbone, who serves as director of insights and research at Innovaro, “From Smart House to Networked Home” describes how cutting-edge technologies ranging from cloud intelligence to 3D printing to personal analytics could reshape mainstream home life in the next decade. While “smart homes” have been predicted for decades, new social drivers and the rapid penetration of networked devices into everyday life are making this forecast more plausible than ever.

You can find the full list of The Futurist’s most popular articles from 2012 here. Happy reading!

reef by Chris Bartnik Photography (Flickr)

reef by Chris Bartnik Photography (Flickr)

In the late 1990s, I wrote a series of articles covering scenarios for the future of tourism. They included the idea of underwater hotels, projected for 2010. “Nights are beautiful.  Pale, shimmering shafts of moonlight filter down through the waves, revealing ghostlike fish.  The piped-in sounds of the sea lull you to sleep,” I wrote.

So I was pleased to see this item in The Economist, about a hotel in which “guests in the 21 submerged rooms get to look out of their windows onto the local marine life.”

Futurists say — loudly and often — that we are not here to make predictions, but it is still nice to see it demonstrated that one has thought the possibilities through clearly. (More here on “prediction accuracy.”)

Of course, maybe this is all due to my reading You Will Live Under the Sea as a child.

Internet retailer Amazon announced today that it is starting a program that would allow library patrons to check out books using their Kindle. This sounds like a great idea. I am surprised no one has considered this before. Way to go, Amazon!

Image: GoXunuReviews

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