We now live in a truly digital and connected world, but we’ve only scraped the surface of what technology can do.
While hover boards and flying cars don’t exist yet (as Back to the Future predicted by 2015), there are still plenty of life-changing technologies under development. Our appliances, thermostats, smoke alarms, car, and even utensils will soon all be connected to our smartphones, which will begin to act as remote controls for our lives. The Internet will become more personalized, as companies will use the host of data at their hands to create unique experiences. Our speed of life will continue to increase, as we begin to expect more and more instant-gratification whether it’s from same-day delivery or GoPro allowing us to capture moment in the moment.
Below is a list of 10 of the best futuristic technologies that could change – and hopefully improve – your life ahead.
1. Virtual assistants who know you better than you know yourself
“You have an 8:30 a.m. meeting with your supervisor. Last time you met, your heart rate was high. Go to bed early tonight, don’t drink coffee before the meeting and leave home early—traffic will be heavy.”
This is what having a personal assistant will be like soon, thanks to smart predictive technologies like Google Now and Microsoft Cortana. Increased information from our bodies, cars, Internet activities, calendars, GPS location, and other data will allow these intelligent personal assistants to help guide our lives for the better. Google Now currently centers around Gmail and the calendar, but will soon be coming to cars via Android. Cortana will be integrated into Windows 10. The movie Her just might be a glimpse into our future.
2. Your phone replaces your wallet
It will soon be possible to step out of your house with nothing but your smartphone. Apple Pay, which acts as a credit card, has proven to be simple and secure since its release in the fall of 2014. A host of other apps are on their way to help further replace your wallet. In Iowa, an app to replace your driver’s license is being developed. August and Kevo are smart locks that can replace your door key. Retail stores offer loyalty apps. There are even apps that cover you with proof of insurance!
3. Passwords are no longer typed – YOU are the password
Soon you will no longer have to remember all your passwords and go through the hassle of typing them in everywhere. Your body itself could become the password instead. Biometric readers have been around for a while, but they’re now beginning to seep into all our favorite products.
Smartphones and laptops routinely carry fingerprint readers to unlock themselves, but your finger is just the beginning. New gadgets will be able to scan your eye, listen to your voice, or just recognize your heartbeat. Very 007-esque.
4. A home that transforms at your command
Apartment rooms are becoming increasingly smaller in major geographic locations. But what if your 200-square feet room could be turned into a lounge, kitchen, study, exercise area, and sleeping area almost instantly? An MIT-designed micro-apartment called City Home seeks to make this a reality.
The apartment is controlled by wall-mounted devices that resemble a clock. Just pick a time of day and the room morphs into the space you want. For example: “Once out of bed, his room moves into exercise mode: The bed lifts away into the ceiling, the floor space clears, and a full-wall, live video projection of a yoga studio starts.
5. Eating utensils that help you lose weight
We weren’t kidding when we said smart products would be everywhere. The HAPIfork is a $100 fork that alerts you with a gentle vibration when you’re eating too quickly. It also measures, using the tines of the fork, how long it took to eat your meal, the amount of “fork servings” taken per minute, and the time between servings. All this information is then uploaded for you to track.
MIT Lab Scientist David Rose says it’s an impressive start, but anticipates something more. “Imagine an actual tooth replacement that responds to chewing action and is able to sense texture, temperature and chemical content of food and drink,” Rose writes. “In dire circumstances, it magnetically clamps onto the tooth above so you cannot continue to eat.”
6. A house that tracks your family members
The Google Latitude Doorbell lets you know where your family members are and when they’re coming home. Data from each family member’s whereabouts are tracked by Google Latitude, sent to a smartphone, and then communicated as unique doorbell chimes based on the person.
If you’ve ever wondered where your kids or spouse might be and when to turn on the oven, worry no more.
7. The trashcan that orders groceries for you
Say goodbye to grocery lists and long trips to the supermarket. The Amazon Trash can is a smart trashcan that has a tiny camera and bar code scanner that records your garbage – from milk cartons to household cleaning supplies – and sends that information to Amazon.com, where it is reordered and shipped to you.
A second, perhaps wittier, prototype that is being developed comments on your eating habits and grocery picks with choice statements like: “Third box of Oreos this week?” or “Microbrew, all right!” or “Blueberry juice, loaded with antioxidants.”
8. Glass surfaces that act as computer screens
Photovoltaic glass is a highly durable, efficient optical grade class that will allow any flat surface, from your bathroom mirror to a picture hanging from your bedroom wall, to be used as an integrated computer screen. You’ll be able to access the Internet, control your smart appliances, and get data about anything at the touch of a screen.
Imagine brushing your teeth in the morning and simultaneously getting your news from the bathroom mirror!
9. Wireless cellphone charging
Even though wireless charging is already available for low-power applications like electric toothbrushes and artificial hearts, this technology still has a way to go before it can be used to charge everyday household devices, cellphones, and even electric cars.
Imagine sitting at a coffee shop, placing your phone on the table, and have it immediately start charging? No cables needed, no faulty connections. You would theoretically be able to charge your phone whenever required; your car, the office, even a restaurant. Even better: no more fussing with different chargers for different phones, having to buy a new charger when upgrading – they’d all have the ability to charge through the air using the same device.
10. Print your own pharmaceuticals
This idea is still in the concept stage, but its impact could be enormous. Just as the 3D printer is able to take a 3D digital model, basically a file on your computer, and translate that into physical objects such as machine or gun parts, the Chemputer would take this concept to the molecular level and enable printing of pharmaceuticals. This printer would use a mixture of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the basic building blocks of most drugs, instead of ink.
Diabetics could print their own insulin at home, people in developing countries could print the exact drug they need to save lives, and you could do all your research and downloading from the comfort of your home.