Innovation is moving so quickly that technologies bordering on science fiction may be within our reach shortly. Creative minds are able to think beyond size and cost limitations to build some truly stunning prototypes quickly and efficiently. Even projects that start out as mere concepts can become reality when the right minds and technology are blended. Take a look at these 10 future inventions that might be on the horizon, thanks to modern breakthroughs in science and technology.
1. Thought-Controlled Computers
What if you didn’t have to lift a finger to interact with your computer? We would be able to save so much time and energy typing out documents and building user interfaces that cooperate with mouse and keyboard inputs. How will future website look when you can control your computer with your mind?
Just search for “brain-to-computer” interface, and you’ll discover many devices that already use inputs from our brains to perform tasks. For example, the New York Times describes how gaming companies, such as Emotive and Neurosky, are pioneering the brain-to-computer field by creating wearable brain-wave monitors that allow you to control virtual games. So far, the games are extremely simple. However, this technology could pave the way for entire computer systems controlled by our thoughts.
2. Bionic Contact Lenses
TVs and computer monitors cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. They aren’t always portable, and we have to replace them every few years as they wear out. But what if you could replace these machines with bionic contact lenses that project images directly onto your eyeball? This could give you an extremely private and personalized view of electronic content.
Google Glass is probably the most accessible consumer product that gives us an inkling of what it could be like to have a wearable digital display. However, it’s possible that Glass is just the beginning. Researchers at the University of Washington are currently working on “microlenses” that project images directly onto the cornea of the wearer. So far, the bionic lens project has passed through animal trials, but has not been made available for human testing.
3. Automated Cars
Think of all the hours you spend sitting in traffic. For drivers, the wait might not be so unbearable if you could take your eyes off the road and do something else during that commute. Perhaps you will be able to, soon. Google is working on a line of automated cars that might hit our future roads. The Google Self-Driving Car has already received road testing approval in four states: Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan.
4. Consumer Space Travel
Are you looking for your next relaxing getaway? Or perhaps you’re a thrillseeker, looking for some adventure. Soon, you might be able to escape Earth’s orbit and get a closer look at the stars. Programs like Virgin Galactic seek to bring everyday people out into space. Despite the recent space-plane crash tragedy, Virgin Galactic plans to continue to move forward with flight testing and development.
5. Android Bodies
Soon we’ll be able to escape the mortality of skin, blood, and bones by escaping our corporeal bodies for cybernetic parts. Current innovations in prosthetic and robotic limbs are quickly transforming our concept of humanity. Just take a look at the LifeHand2, a prosthetic arm and hand that not only gives wearers greater motor control, but it also delivers sensory input directly into their brains, allowing users to actually feel shapes and movements.
Potable water is a commodity that many of us take for granted. While the Western world is inundated with taps that give us quick access to drinking water, there are many people around the globe who fear water scarcity. But what if you had a device that could somehow produce drinking water? Well, something like this already exists. Skywater has created a machine that pulls moisture from the air and turns it into drinking water. This company suggests that these machines can be used to provide emergency relief or in remote locations where water can’t be easily accessed.
7. Cancer Cures
Many believe that a cancer diagnosis would be one of the most terrifying things to hear at a doctor’s office. However, medical researchers have made leaps and bounds in early detection, treatments, symptom management, and risk mitigation. These factors have been turning the tides in fatality numbers and helping even more people survive a fight against cancer. These steps are helping us get even closer to a true cure for cancer. Organizations like the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center continue to move forward with treatment development and testing.
8. Age Reversal
Being able to undo the damage of the years, restore your vitality, and remove wrinkles sounds like a sci-fi fantasy. However, it might soon be reality. Google is funding an anti-aging research company known as “Calico,” which is attempting to solve some of humankind’s biggest obstacles when it comes to aging: neurodegenerative disorders. This organization has partnered up with a pharmaceutical company to develop drug treatments that could prevent the loss of our cognitive abilities in old age.
9. Artificial-Reality Escapes
Sure, many of us are used to escaping mundane life by playing video games or watching TV. But as graphics and haptic technologies become more sophisticated, we have the potential to create even better virtual worlds. Luckily, Kickstarter seems to attract a significant amount of artificial-reality projects. Two noteworthy developments include the Oculus Rift 3D gaming headset and the Omni movement controller. Oculus Rift’s expansive field of view allows you to become immersed in the graphics of a game, blocking out all visual distractions. And the Omni platform controller enables you to run, jump, crouch, and walk through virtual environments unimpeded. You might even get to burn some calories while exploring your favorite first-person shooter.
10. Post-Scarcity Food Supply
As human lifespans get longer and the world’s population grows, many of us wonder how we’ll be able to sustain the human race with enough food. There are already global populations who suffer from starvation, while other societies waste food products. What if we could find sustainable ways to create an abundance of food? While it’s not a magical meal in a pill, projects like the Soylent food substitute indicate that we might be able to distill all the nutrients we need into a single drink.
Featured photo credit: Jordanhill School D&T Dept via flickr.com