The Ultimate “Forever Tech”

“Forever” is a forbidden word in technology.

Even the coolest of cool technologies exist under constant threat of being replaced.

Just ask BlackBerry Ltd. (formerly Research In Motion).

For all intents and purposes, BlackBerry looked poised for a long and fruitful run.

BlackBerry smartphone usage peaked in 2011, with 50% of the market under its control.

By 2016, BlackBerry had ceased manufacturing as Apple’s iPhone ended the company’s incredibly brief reign of power.

Although we tend to snicker about how BlackBerry phones were once considered awesome…

Virtually every technology will eventually become a funny punchline.

Carburetors lost to fuel injectors.

Fax machines lost to email.

Pagers lost to cellphones.

Flashbulb cameras lost to digital photography.

Incandescent bulbs lost to LEDs.

DVDs lost to Blu-ray technology.

The list goes on and on and on.

When it comes to technology, forever seems to be an illusory goal.

Yet a precious few technologies — the rarest of the rare — fall into the category of what I like to call “forever tech.”

Forever tech can endure for decades, continually reinventing itself with new applications.

Among the incredibly short list of “forever techs” — one of them turned 60 years old this year.

I’m talking about laser technology.

The list of practical laser usages is exhaustive, including but not limited to heat generation, tattoo and scar removal, rangefinders, barcode readers, medical scalpels, industrial cutting and fiber optics.

But what’s truly remarkable about laser technology is that we haven’t even come close to realizing its full potential. I can prove it with two recent examples, beginning with a breaking story from the U.S. Navy.

Lasers as Weapons

According to the U.S. Naval Institute, “Amphibious ship USS Portland shot down a drone with a laser weapon during a first-of-its-kind at-sea test of the Navy’s high-energy laser weapon system.”

With an output of 150 kilowatts, the Navy’s new laser represents a massive increase in power over previous laser weapon systems.

A video released by the Navy captures the laser’s historic strength.

The end-game is for lasers to replace missile-based weapon systems because 1) lasers can theoretically fire an unlimited number of shots and 2) lasers require no fuel source. If successful, the cost is reduced to pennies per shot, collectively saving taxpayers billions.

Lasers as Cancer Screeners

A brand-new laser-enabled device — called the “Cytophone” — could soon revolutionize how cancer is treated.

It works by detecting melanoma cells traveling through the bloodstream.

Although the noninvasive device is not approved for use yet, in testing, it accurately detected cancer cells in 27 out of 28 people with melanoma.

“The Cytophone can pick up a single circulating cancer cell (CTC) in 1 liter of blood, which is up to 1,000 times more sensitive than other detection methods that probe for CTCs in a typical 7.5-milliliter blood sample,” reports Science magazine.

Although early detection is the Cytophone’s goal, participants showed fewer cancer cells in their blood after the procedure, raising the possibility that the laser doubles as a cancer killer.

In closing, make no mistake…

As a “forever tech,” laser technology will continue to evolve beyond the two examples I highlighted today, which is why I recommend giving your portfolio some exposure to lasers.

For those interested, the pure play here is Coherent Inc. (COHR).

A quick look at Coherent’s chart shows a company steadily rising — year in and year out — as you’d expect from any business underpinned by a forever tech.

Onward and upward,

robert

Robert Williams

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Robert Williams

After nearly 20 years in the trenches of high finance, Robert has joined St. Paul Research to assume the role of Chief Futurist. Robert cut his teeth as an analyst for one of the most revered and prestigious medical institutions on Earth, whose endowment is valued at $4.3 billion. From there, Robert became the lead...

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