The future is always exciting, interesting, full of new things, sometimes scary.
When I was a kid, as a child born in the 1980s, I remember fantasising that everything would be very space movie-like in the 2000s: flying cars, robots, people in white uniforms. Maybe I saw it in StarTrack.
Well, we’re not too far from that reality. The white uniform is a bit of an exaggeration and not very practical, but the robots and flying cars are very real.
I’ve collected together the technological advances that we are already using and will be using in the next 5,10,15 years. Very soon.
Buckle up, time travel is on!
SimpliSafe, a tech startup based in the USA, launched its social distancing Christmas sweater last December, a worthy gem in the annual line-up of ugly Christmas sweaters.
The sweater is equipped with sensors, an alarm and a wild flashing of small built-in lights to indicate when someone is within two metres of the wearer. The company intended this product as a half-joke rather than an effective defence against Covid. However, I must note, avoiding some long-time-no-see relatives at Christmas family gatherings can be pretty effective.
Much more effective than a sweater are the smart gadgets, so-called wearables, that could change, among other things, the future of the medical industry. The underlying technology that makes all this possible is the Internet of Things.
For example, experiments and developments are underway on wearable smart solutions such as glucose tracking. Today, 1 in 11 people have diabetes, and 46% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed. Well, these wearable devices – also suitable for diabetes prevention – continuously monitor the body’s glucose levels and have an automated glucose delivery function.
Wearable or implantable defibrillators can also be worn in case of dangerously fast heartbeats (tachycardia) and abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmia). Wearable defibrillators can be life-saving for people at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The device continuously monitors the heart rhythm and, when it detects a life-threatening rhythm, applies shock treatment to restore the patient’s heart rate to normal. However, it is pretty expensive; this device costs $3370 a month.
There is a range of asthma monitoring devices that can predict the next asthma attack. A blood clot monitoring system that can prevent a possible stroke from occurring. A Bluetooth system under development would monitor real-time blood clotting and then automatically transmit that data to our doctor. Patients would then not have to visit their doctor as often as before.
It’s a bit of madness for me, but they are coming up with a smart necklace that can tell if you have taken your prescription medicine by the movement of the skin on your neck when you swallow it. The Bayes theorem, also used in artificial intelligence, helps to accurately classify swallowing of medicine capsules, water drinking and speech with 90% accuracy. Hm…
Then there are robotic suitcases – of all sizes – that can be adjusted in direction with a finger and then, after using their built-in sensors to gauge their owner’s walking speed, pick up the pace and roll past on their own—goodbye suitcase lugging with two kids at the airport.
Even wilder is the futuristic idea of Russian student Yuri Dmitriev. His proposed Bio Robot fridge uses biopolymer gel to keep food cold through luminescence.
Colonies of so-called biomechanical robots would essentially convert invisible infrared radiation into visible light.
This refrigeration process produces a green-coloured, odourless, non-sticky gel that surrounds each item placed in the fridge, creating separate containers and determining each item’s optimum cooling and storage temperature. In addition, the gel protects against ultraviolet radiation that can damage food.
There’s no need for a door, and you can simply reach into this green gel for a piece of cheese. Yuri says this saves a lot of space inside the fridge and in the kitchen. The appliance is four times smaller than a normal-sized fridge. Its size varies depending on how many products you put in and how much gel you need.
And the technology won’t even bypass our bedrooms. Have you heard of sex tech? Sex has always been good business and it will be no different in the future.
According to a shocking report published by futurologist Dr Ian Pearson ahead of the pandemic, by 2050, the world will be full of androids. Most people will be having sex with robots, and virtual reality will overtake human-human sex.
The hyper-realistic Harmony, a 20-year-old Japanese woman who is the world’s sexiest robot, is essentially an AI chatbot trapped inside a life-size Barbie doll. It has facial recognition, talks and responds to touch. I am concerned that male robots are not being made simultaneously, at least not yet…
According to the news, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lilly Allan have recently jumped on the sex train with their designs of smart vibrators, so luckily, we women are not left behind without intelligent sex toys.
With much of the world stuck in a home office and predictions that this trend will stay with us long after the virus has gone, I can’t leave out the computers of the future.
The big tech companies are predicting that we are entering a period of increased innovation in laptops and PCs. Our machines will be thinner and lighter in the next ten years, faster and more powerful, and more like smartphones than ever before. It is the latter point that many believe will have the most significant impact on the market as consumers and businesses demand a more mobile experience.
We will witness and use innovations such as flexible (foldable) displays or dual-screen devices, and by 2030 we will rely much more heavily on non-keyboard inputs such as voice.
We tend to think of computers as rectangular boxes, and we also tend to think of the internet as a kind of ether floating around us. Recently, researchers have made huge breakthroughs in creating ways for our everyday objects to communicate. So our phone can communicate with the fridge, which can communicate with the light bulb. In fact, the light bulb itself will become a computer that projects information instead of light in the near future.
And this is just the beginning. The defining technology of our future (and indeed of our present) is artificial intelligence, which many see as the electricity of our time.
One thing is for sure. It is closer than we think. I know that many people imagine that technology is the corrupter of humanity, erecting even greater walls between us and reinforcing isolation. There is no harm in arming ourselves with some knowledge and insight to make the future a liveable place. What do you think?