Friday, April 20, 2012

Ten Technological Advances of the Future

There are a ton of cool technological advances out there, with seemingly hundreds more every day.  Every time I turn around, I'm amazed by what I see.  Our knowledge of what's possible scientifically is expanding at an exponential rate.  What was impossible yesterday becomes a reality tomorrow.

So in light of that, here are a few fun ideas, things we need to develop from the infant technology we have already discovered.  They're concepts we will likely see at some point in the future.  The technology is already sound; all we have to figure out is the logistics.


MagLev Transit


MagLev is magnetic levitation, the science of levitating something by using magnets. Now, imagine that as a full-sized locomotive, pulling cars filled with passengers, merchandise, foodstuffs, natural resources, you name it. Japan is already working hard on this technology, creating bullet trains that have achieved speeds of over 581 KPH. This could easily take over as a viable way of moving people place to place in the future, and could replace air travel for many domestic destinations.


3D Printing


We've seen the advent of 3D printing using a specially engineered composite material to create semi-functional objects, accurate to within 40 microns, or smaller than the width of a human hair.  We've seen it expanded to include 3D metal printing, where metal powder is layered into the form needed and then forged at high temperatures. It's grown to include everything from ceramics to chocolates. The next step seems to be identifying a process that's cost-effective for mass use.  Just think of how this could change the dynamics of merchandise as we know it, how we purchase what we need.  And as soon as we make the leap to printing food items and human organs, it will completely renovate the business of living.


Augmented Reality


We've seen this in its infancy already.  Mobile virtual information available upon need.  Augmenting such things as eye glasses and phones with this information.  In the future, saturation is the key: the ability to reach any and all information needed instantly.  Couple this with technology below, and we'll have the ability to integrate the virtual world seamlessly with ourselves.


Nanotechnology


Nanotechnology now allows us to view things on a scale smaller than that of the microscopic, down to the level of single atoms.  We're already working on nanoengineering, designed to create anything atom by atom, as small as imaginable.  In just a few years, we could be able to create fully functional engines, electrical circuits, and complex machines, the size of just a few molecules.  Imagine doctors with the ability to inject a camera into your blood stream and send it completely through your body, even through capillaries, looking for diseases or other health issues.  Imagine the ability to create specially adapted devices allowing us to remove tumors, cancerous cells, etc., all without cutting a patient open.


Wireless Power


This is not a new concept.  Nikola Tesla imagined the technology around a century ago.  And we're finally seeing practical applications.  You can buy wireless phone chargers, where you can charge your phone without actually plugging it into the source of power.  The next step is unplugging completely, providing wireless power around the globe, allowing us to unplug for good.


Mind-Controlled Bionics


It's already possible.  It's already been done.  And the ceiling doesn't have to end with recreated body parts.  Integrating these prosthetic appendages permanently into the human body is the first step, but from there, this technology can be adapted and expanded to exploration and discovery, controlling machines to go where humans can't, and yet controlling them as though they were extensions of our own bodies.


Invisibility


It's the stuff of science fiction, the Holy Grail of science, but it's getting a lot closer to reality than fiction with recent technological advances.  Although this appears at first blush to have more military and government applications, it's something that would benefit many areas of society in practical application.


Holograms


The applications for this go beyond business meetings and teleconferencing.  Think of this in educational terms, where students could go beyond seeing an illustration of something in a textbook to actually seeing it, actively participating in something, no matter where they were.  And the prospect of this as a logical evolution of entertainment is pretty exciting too.  If you thought 3D changed movies, just watch as this sort of technology replaces it.


Force Fields


This has more applications than just space travel.  Sure, the immediate evolution is that to protect astronauts, but here on earth it could be just as effective, and advances could provide the ability to more effectively protect against radiation.


Machine Translation


Although this is showcased in a military setting, the possibilities of it are endless.  From here, it's quite possible we'll see this technology grow smaller, and even embedded or implanted in us, creating the ability to speak in one language and be understood in another.  In the future, it may be entirely possible to go anywhere in the world and face no language barriers whatsoever.

Yea, folks, we live in some exciting times, and I'm stoked to be a part of them!  What are your thoughts?  How do you see these technologies adapted to our future?

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