Technology is an ever changing, always evolving thing. There are new technologies coming out every year and there is always something on the brink of becoming mainstream. Take the smartwatch for instance. Two years ago it was a prototype and now there will be at least four different high quality smartwatches by the end of 2014. Let’s take a look at other new technologies that are about to become mainstream soon.
1. Smart glasses
We’ve seen this already a little bit with Google Glass but that’s just the beginning. Despite getting a lot of press and controversy, Google Glass is a very young product. In fact, all the pairs that are out now are beta test units. Sometime in the next couple of years Google will be releasing a consumer level version for a much cheaper price. It’s also very likely that there will be competitors releasing smart glasses right alongside Google Glass. There will be some who don’t like it at first but eventually the kinks will be worked out and this is a thing that will happen.
2. Smart data
More and more things are becoming automated these days but there are things we still have to do manually. Like adding someone to your contacts list on your phone or in your email. Things like this are probably coming to an end soon. In the video above, a company called RelateIQ is already working on turning your relationship management into an automated thing by building a contacts list automatically based on things like your email inbox and your current contacts list, messages, etc. There will come a point where you just need to ask for someone’s name and you can create a contact profile immediately without any work on your part.
3. Wearable electronics
With the aforementioned Google Glass and smartwatches, we’re already seeing this to a degree but it’s going to get way more crazy than that. Smart glasses and smart watches are social devices that connect you to the outside world. There are other wearable electronics in the works that connect you to your body. We’re talking ear buds that measure heart rate, contact lenses that can measure your blood sugar, temporary tattoos that can unlock doors via NFC technology, and all sorts of cool stuff. Once they work this out for consumer use, it wont’ be long until you start getting options for implants that’ll track your vitals in real time so you’ll know you’re having a heart attack before your heart does. It’s going to save lives.
4. Smart houses
Once again, this is a thing that is right on the brink of being a real thing. We already have smart appliances such as refrigerators that will tell you when you’re low on a certain food item or an oven you can control with your smartphone. Sometime in the near future these things will be aggregated into an entire home unit that you’ll be able to control with your smartphone, tablet, or computer. We’re talking changing the thermostat, changing the channel on TV, and getting notifications that your laundry is ready all without leaving your couch. You can preheat the oven for dinner as you leave work so it’s ready to cook when you get home. It won’t be too much longer before your house talks to you and you can talk to it. The tech is already there, it’s just a matter of putting it all together in a stable enough manner for consumers.
5. Virtual reality gaming
You game nerds out there prepare yourselves. Many gaming fans already know of the Oculus Rift which is a VR headset that plays video games. It was recently bought by Facebook that is actively working on turning it into a social device as well as a gaming device. Samsung is reportedly working on their own as well. There will come a point where you’ll be able to go buy one of these headsets, take them anywhere, and watch, play, or view anything. It’s already almost there.
6. Screenless displays
Screenless displays are pretty much what they sound like. Displays that display things but without a screen. This technology has apparently come a long way in the last two years and is expected to make even more strides in the coming years. Things like holograms won’t be science fiction anymore. There may even be contact lenses that shoot images straight into your eye. This won’t just be a breakthrough for entertainment mediums, but people who can’t see well will be able to enjoy things for the first time without laser eye surgery.
7. Brain-Computer interfaces
These actually already exist to a degree. Quadriplegics have been using them for years to talk through a computer. The technology isn’t as refined as it could be but it’s well on its way. That means there could be a point in the future where you don’t need a mouse or a keyboard anymore. You can just think things and they happen on screen. This is great for people who have disabilities, people who want to be productive, and for gamers.
8. Universally available services
This may sound complicated but it’s really not because services like this exist. You may have heard of Uber. Uber is a taxi service that you can access pretty much anywhere where Uber has drivers. It’s in the U.S. and Europe with more places being planned. What makes Uber unique is its ability to be a universal service. There will come a time where you can call an Uber driver no matter where you are. These kind of services that transcend borders and continents by using the magic of the internet will continue to pop up. It doesn’t matter what language you speak or what country you’re in, you’ll be able to use the same service everywhere. Mark my words, there will be more services like Uber (but for other things aside from transportation) popping up once people have more ideas!
9. Digital downloads will kill physical objects
The end of owning physical copies of a video game are upon us. Popular computer gaming platforms like Steam and Origins have already begun distributing video games digitally without a disc or a cartridge. With the plummeting prices of flash storage (like you find on smartphones) and the increasing stability and speed of the internet, it’s absolutely certain that all video games (and media for that matter) will one day be only distributed digitally. That means no more CDs, game discs, DVDs, Blue-Ray, etc. It’ll all be files that you download directly to your TV, phone, MP3 player, or video game system. Music has pretty much done this already and movies are well on their way. Soon, it’ll be everything. It’s hard to imagine but streamlined and mainstream media and game downloads have only been a thing for about half a decade now and they still have a long way to go.
10. Robots will be everywhere
Huge strides have been made in robotics in the last ten years and more are expected to be made in the coming decade. We’re not talking fully intelligent robots (yet) but definitely ones that are stable and reliable enough to start working. It’ll likely start with places like assembly lines and work their way into other facets of manual labor that humans don’t want to do. We’re even seriously talking about robots performing surgery on humans while being controlled by a doctor and a technician. You can find demos of robots doing things like shooting wads of paper into trash cans or ones that pour coffee. If those are prototypes, then the finish products can’t be all that far behind.
11. Biofuels and renewable energy
The people alive right now know one thing for certain. We will be the last living creatures who considered fossil fuels as the only source of energy available on this planet. Within the next few decades, huge strides are expected to be made in solar and wind energy. People are exploring potential fuel sources from everything from wheat to algae. Our dependence on oil and coal is still pretty steadfast but it’s beginning to loosen its grip. In the next ten years, expect a huge push for electric cars, solar panels on houses, and lots of complaining from oil company executives.
12. Wireless energy transfer
There are already examples of this out in the wild. The Qi Wireless charging dock allows people with some smartphones (generally newer ones) to charge their devices without the use of cables. This is a big deal because wireless energy transferring has a lot of applications. When electric cars are a bigger deal, you’ll be able to just park on top of a charging center and your car will charge. They may even build solar-powered roads that charges your car as you drive (how cool would that be, really?). The applications are limited only by one’s imagination and wireless cell phone charging is just the tip of a very large ice berg.
13. 5G mobile data
Yes, I know we just now got 4G under control here in the United States and many places in the world are still stuck on 3G. Technology doesn’t stop just because we’re behind on our infrastructure. Currently 5G is in the research phase but the phrase has been increasingly tossed around. Keep in mind it only took a decade or two to go from 3G to 4G. Don’t expect it to take any longer going from 4G to 5G.
14. Artificial Intelligence
You’ve seen the movies about it but could it actually exist in our lifetime? The answer is yes, it very well may. If you’ve seen the famous robot designed by IBM that schooled everyone in Jeopardy then you’ve already seen the kind of progress we’ve made in artificial intelligence. There is still a long way to go but thanks to things like contextual technology (Siri, Google Now, Cortana, etc), we’re getting a lot better at drawing up software that can predict and react like a real person can. It won’t be much longer until it’s all integrated together to create a robot that can think.
Back in 2004, the first sheet of graphene was produced. Ever since, scientists have been trying to figure out a way to mass produce it. Why? Because it’s going to make everything better. It could give us much faster internet. It’s 100 times stronger than steel so naturally it’s going to be awesome for building anything. We could use it as a filter for water and scrub the oceans clean of toxic waste. It could be used on smartphones to make them virtually indestructible. It would make batteries obsolete. Truth be told, we’re not going to list all the things graphene could be useful for because its applications are practically limitless. Sooner or later we’ll figure out how to mass produce it. Prepare for the second industrial revolution where everything is made from graphene. I mean everything. Not kidding.
It wasn’t long ago that most of this stuff was science fiction. To many (including myself) it still seems like something you saw in an episode of Star Trek or read in an HG Wells book. It’s almost frightening how far we’ve come but we’re almost there and in a few more decades, it’s going to be amazing to see how far we’ve come.
Featured photo credit: University of Oregon via blogs.uoregon.edu