Not Afraid To Ask: What Should Silicon Valley invent next?

“When I’m not wearing my Christie’s hat, I’m still waiting for my jet pack. Growing up, I was a big fan of The Jetsons. In the world of art and visual design, we can now see pieces in a 3D holographic format. But you still can’t touch it. A tool that would allow other senses to experience an artwork from a faraway distance, whether it’s touch or sound — in one single package — is something the tech world has not yet invented.”

— Devang Thakkar, Christie’s senior digital adviser


“Not that I’m an expert, yet. But the Internet should be able to more quickly diagnose diseases. There is CRISPR technology, hailing from UC Berkeley. Next year — thanks to ARCS — I’ll continue my Ph.D. studies there in the field of cell and molecular biology. I believe I can contribute to expediting those diagnostics tools to advance biomedical sciences.”

— Jan Mikhale Cajulao, San Francisco State University ARCS Scholar


“For years, I avoided getting a colonoscopy in the hopes that the camera-enabled pill I’d been waiting for would arrive. I’m surprised and chagrined that I can’t go to the pharmacy, buy a pill with a camera and other built-in measuring devices, connect it to my phone, swallow it down, and avoid meters of tubes being inserted into my body via the few orifices that provide such access. The pill would check everything, alert my doctor and me — via iPhone alerts — and save the invasiveness for treatment, should one be necessary. Tech companies have found ways to invade our privacy in every other way, but for some reason, they haven’t come up with a way to invade it in the one way that would be most beneficial.”

— Dave Pell, author and self-appointed “Managing Editor, Internet” on Twitter


“Recently I visited the almost complete Gaudi masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona. I wish there was an app for touristy, photogenic spaces — with a GPS tracker, which takes the photo. Then, later, you download your image in that place. Instead of being glued to our phones, staging the perfect pose, lighting or correct hashtag to post instantly on social media, we could truly appreciate and immerse ourselves in the exquisite, beautiful environment we’re experiencing.”

— Leah Hearst, The Wolf of Wellness founder


“I always thought it would be cool if you could just implant some sort of microchip in your body that monitored your vitals, blood, et cetera, and then alerted you ahead of time if you were at risk for some issue. Instead of getting that information yearly at the doctor or when something bad happened, we could alert people years ahead of time. Obviously some big privacy issues here … but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more merging of man and machine.”

— Chad Rosen, engineering manager at Meta


“A mute button for in-person conversations!”

— Jack Calhoun, consultant and board member


“What we should invent and what we will invent are probably two separate things. That said, I’m excited about all the work that’s going into environmental tech and climate change.”

— Jessica Powell, author and CEO of AudioShake


“Silicon Valley is so much about efficiency, productivity, value-creation and buzz. I am hopeful that we can create space and time to pause, to silence all of the noise and commotion, and let moments of joy tumble upon us. Those sparkles of momentary joy are perhaps the true unicorns.”

— Robyn Sue Fisher, founder and chief brrrista of Smitten Ice Cream


“I’d love to see Silicon Valley come up with a new model of venture philanthropy. With all the brainpower and wealth in this valley, we have the potential to really move the needle on global poverty. I believe social entrepreneurship is the key, but it requires innovators and investors to think about ROI in a whole new way — returns in terms of lives improved and/or environmental benefits.”

— Brigit Helms, executive director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship


“When beginning a project we always take a set of the old plans of the house and have to re-draw them into our CAD system in order to start the remodel plans for the new house. It would be great if there was a program where we can scan the old plans and download them into our CAD system without having to re-draw them by hand. Maybe there is something like this already, but we haven’t found it!”

— Martin Kobus, interior designer and cofounder of Martin Kobus Home

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