• You’ll be shocked when you see the robots this Harvard research team is developing
  • An “invisibility cloak” might not be so impossible after all
  • The American manufacturing renaissance is picking up speed

Dear Reader,

Yesterday, I embarked on my first business trip in more than three months. It’s the longest I’ve ever gone in the last 30 years without traveling.

I’m a big believer in boots on the ground research. My team and I travel regularly, and I always jump at the chance to see things firsthand and speak with industry executives and technologists about what is really happening in the field.

And I had been curious about what it would be like to travel under the circumstances.

This was Newark Airport at 8:15 a.m.


The United terminal – and, for that matter, the entire airport – was practically empty. The restaurants were closed, and the restaurant seats had been wrapped in plastic wrap so that passengers can’t sit down.

And here was my gate. I was about a half-hour early, but I was literally the only person there.


And oddly, it was pleasant. I was able to get through security in a whiz, walk through the airport without a mask, and enjoy the peaceful stroll in the absence of the normal cacophony of one of the world’s busiest airports.

That changed, of course, when boarding the airplane. We were forced to wear masks and fill out a health form with all of our contact details and the address of where we’ll be staying.

And don’t forget… If we have the latest Android operating system or Apple iOS on our phone, contact tracing is already built into the software. That means government agencies can potentially track our movements.

But the most ironic part? The stewards handed out a small snack and drink during the flight. So what did the passengers do? They all took off their masks to eat and drink.

So which is it? Is a mask necessary or not?

We can’t attend a funeral for a loved one who passed from natural causes, but it’s OK to conduct mass gatherings… in the thousands, if not tens of thousands?

Absolute lunacy.

It’s time to open up.

Now let’s turn to our insights…

Swarms of microrobots are coming…

It’s right out of a science fiction book…

A development from Harvard’s microrobot laboratory caught my eye. A team there developed a microrobot with the diameter of about a penny.

And this isn’t just a simple little robot. It can run, jump, and even carry payloads on its back that are several times its own weight.

The microrobot’s design was inspired by a cockroach. That sounds strange, but cockroaches are known for their supreme strength and speed relative to their size.

Here’s the microrobot in action:

HAMR-JR Microrobot

Image Source: Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

And here’s the key part – the team used an origami-like approach to build the microrobot. They printed the robot’s components onto a 2D sheet, used a laser to cut the shapes out, and then folded those shapes into the robot’s body and legs.

This is the perfect approach for mass production. The robot is made from just one material and can essentially be produced in sheets. That would make them very cheap to mass-produce.

And these designs always get smaller over time. That means we can expect to see variations of these robots designed to perform specific functions. Several big applications come to mind…

Once they are small enough, these robots could clean our gastrointestinal track or clear clogged arteries.

These robots could one day clean hard-to-reach places. Imagine a swarm of these robots cleaning under stoves or behind ovens in a restaurant kitchen. And, of course, these robots could be used for environmental cleaning tasks also.

And we can imagine plenty of security applications for these robots. They could patrol our homes and offices mounted with tiny cameras to give us 24-7 security surveillance. Or perhaps these robots could slip under a door and monitor a room for military or police surveillance.

Anybody who has read the sci-fi novel Prey by Michael Crichton will be familiar with the idea of microrobots. Crichton’s novel involved a swarm of nanobots that became self-aware and turned on their creators. It’s a fun read.

I don’t predict that would be a problem for these bots. But in this age of bleeding-edge technology, it demonstrates how the lines between science fiction and reality are starting to blur.

The secret of invisibility…

And here’s another breakthrough turning the unbelievable into the possible…

The ability for people to camouflage themselves and become invisible in plain sight is also a staple of science fiction and fantasy works such as Harry Potter. And now it appears this ability is not as far-fetched as it previously seemed.

A bioengineering team out of UC Irvine analyzed how cephalopods (think of an octopus or squid) camouflage themselves as a defense mechanism.

What the team found is that certain squid cells are programmed to express a protein called reflectin that causes light to scatter off them, making them difficult to see or nearly invisible. This makes the cephalopod appear transparent, so it blends in with its surroundings.

This is not too different from the sci-fi movie Predator, which envisioned technology that enabled the alien to cloak itself by blending into its surroundings.

Taking this research, the team genetically engineered human embryonic cells to express the reflectin protein. And guess what? The human cells demonstrated the ability to scatter light and effectively become invisible as well.

Yes, theoretically, it might be possible to genetically engineer our cells to cloak ourselves. It would take some doing, but with a little imagination, we can envision a military or intelligence operation exploring this kind of genetic engineering for obvious purposes.

But the real benefit from research like this will likely be in materials science. We will see the development of highly reflective biomaterials that can be worn or placed over objects to make them blend into their environment. In other words, invisibility cloaks are in our near future.

The most obvious applications are for security and defense. As tech investors, that’s likely where our investment opportunity will be. I’ll be watching closely for any early stage companies that form to commercialize this research.

It’s still in the future. But being a disciplined technology investor means identifying cutting-edge tech months and sometimes years before an investment opportunity arises. And I certainly see that here.

The manufacturing renaissance continues…

I have been talking about a manufacturing renaissance in the United States for a while now.

This trend has everything to do with what I call “decentralized manufacturing.” Here’s what I mean by that…

It finally makes economic sense to move away from massive, labor-intensive factories in mainland China to smaller, highly automated factories in the U.S., where goods can be produced closer to the markets they serve.

There just isn’t much of a cost advantage to producing goods in China anymore, especially when advanced manufacturing technology is employed. And COVID-19 has taught the U.S. and other developed countries that centralized overseas manufacturing bases are prone to supply chain disruption.

That’s why we will see a flood of manufacturing come back onshore.

Two weeks ago, we saw clear evidence of this trend ramping up. Semiconductor giant TSMC announced that it was building a $12 billion semiconductor fabrication plant in Arizona.

And today, the renaissance continues.

Prominent server manufacturer Supermicro announced that it is building a new manufacturing plant in the United States. This is big news.

We aren’t talking about small little semiconductors here. Supermicro produces large server hardware that goes into data centers. It’s an intensive manufacturing process.

As for where the new plant will be, Supermicro is looking at locations in the Midwest, on the East Coast, and in Oregon. I’m excited to see where it chooses to build.

And, of course, the reasons Supermicro needs to build a new plant won’t be surprising to readers of The Bleeding Edge.

As we know, data centers are the backbone of the internet. They get bits and bytes from Point A to Point B.

But our data centers have been overwhelmed since the COVID-19 lockdown began. That’s due to a massive increase in network data traffic thanks to everyone being stuck at home.

On top of that, Supermicro is also seeing a spike in demand due to the expansion of 5G wireless networks. 5G adoption is growing rapidly as we speak, and it’s going to balloon when Apple releases its first 5G-enabled iPhone this fall.

So this is just the beginning of manufacturing coming back onshore in the U.S. and European markets. And that’s one reason why I am predicting a new Golden Age for the American economy, which also means the U.S. equity markets.

Yes, it will take some time to recover from the economic lockdown we’re experiencing. But the American economy will come roaring back. That’s why I’ve been preparing my readers with a handful of “Golden Age” investment recommendations.

To learn about my top five “Golden Age” stocks, go right here.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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