Mind-bending Predictions About the Far Future of Technology

Alan Kay quote on the future
Flying cars, cool-looking future cities, robots in every house ... are these some of your ideas on how our future will be like? With technology growing rapidly, your imaginations may become a reality.
Did You Know?
In 1961, Stanislaw Lem's novel, Return from the Stars predicted a touch-screen technology where a book's content can be recorded. Today, we have the Kindle!
We have heard people say that we should not worry too much about the future. But, this saying does not hold true in the technological world. Here, you always need to think about the future, else you will miss out being in the digital age! There are so many new inventions that come up daily, which help in making our lives luxurious.
The iPod that we use daily was once a far-fetched thought of Mr. Jobs, which has become a reality today. Similarly, when television was launched, we thought that nothing could beat this invention. Then, came cable television, and now, it is the age of digital television. With every advancement, the picture quality has increased. I wonder if there is a better image quality than HD? Similarly, until a few years back, the concept of 3D was limited to Hollywood futuristic movies, but today, we have 3D blueprints, 3D graphics, and 3D television sets as well. All these inventions were a mere prediction by their inventors, but they later, went on to become a part of our lives. Similar predictions can be made for the future. Here I am talking about the advancements that can be made in the far, far future (may be in the next 10 years). I hope that someday, a tech geek will convert these predictions, outlined in this Buzzle write-up, into reality.
Really Smart Smartphones
Smartphones can do everything that our regular cell phones couldn't do. There are a host of services that enhance the smartphone experience. But, there is scope for improvement in this sector. Come on, the name is "smartphone", so it should be smart in every possible aspect. I think smartphones need to get smarter to do justice to their name. How about a voice-enabled locking system?
Smartphone
What's the Idea
All of us know that the current instrument tracking programs can be given a slip, if one is smart enough. So, how about having a smartphone which will operate through your voice. Confused? Let me give you an example of it. If you have misplaced your phone in your apartment and are unable to locate it, you can simply call out the name of your smartphone (one that is unique to your phone), and your phone will respond. Also, there will be no need to set passwords for the device. No one but you can operate the phone. So, even if your phone is stolen, the thief cannot do much with it.
What Can Go Wrong
While you have enabled the voice recognition mode in your smartphone, it becomes mandatory for you to talk in a particular manner. Also, if there are variations in your pronunciation, the phone may not identify your voice. The other major hindrance is the usage of radio frequencies for transferring the voice waves. With so many mobiles being used, the tuning of devices to a particular frequency may be difficult.
Nearest Invention
We have come closer to the idea by creating a similar app - the "Talking Tom". If we can create an animation that repeats whatever we say and laptops with finger identification mechanisms, we can create this as well!
Voice-enabled Robots
If robots take over the world, will we be their slaves? Let us limit this thought to the Transformer series! Today, there are many humanoid robots that are being developed in many parts of the world. When this development speeds up, we will have humanoid robots in every town. So, why not take a little help from these man-made mechanized humans? Robots that are operated using wired and wireless connections are a thing of the past.
Humanoid Robots
What's the Idea
How about having robots that understand our instructions by simply speaking to them! We can have regular conversations with these robots and simply instruct them to perform a particular task. If you want tea, you can simply request your robot to make you one. These robots can be useful in industrial sectors as well. You can simply ask the robot to switch on the manufacturing line or operate the fork lift. We can simply supervise these tasks and use our useful human resources in developmental activities.
What Can Go Wrong
Every time a new task has to be assigned to the robot, it has to be programmed. Also, the input instructions that are given to the robot will be the voice recognition of only one person. For enabling the robot to understand multiple voices, all the frequencies need to be fed. And the voice module comparisons may take a long time, thus increasing the action lag time.
Nearest Invention
Panasonic's latest television - Viera is voice-enabled. We simply have to tell the TV to change a particular channel, and it will change the channel. All this, without you having to touch the remote! Yes guys, we are this close!
Cloud Diary
Many of us have the habit of penning down thoughts in a diary. We tend to write about our daily activities, stories, poems, or anything that comes to our mind. But, the problem that most of us face is that we cannot translate our thoughts into words. Also, these thoughts don't come to us at a given time every day. You cannot write a poem at 8:00 am every day! The solution to this will be to carry our little diaries everywhere we go. How about a diary that can be used whenever such creative thoughts come to mind?
Pen As Projector
What's the Idea
Imagine yourself in a park, sitting on the bench, and watching the kids play. A thought comes to your mind and you want to pen it down. Just take out your "magic pen" and start writing your thoughts. Still didn't get it? I am talking about a pen that will act as a projector. When switched on, it will project a screen on any surface. This screen is similar to our touchscreen devices. Once, you are done writing, simply switch off the pen and the projection will stop!
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What Can Go Wrong
The storage of all this data may be a problem. Larger cloud storage off-site servers will be needed to store such huge data. Also, this device will need a plane surface projection.
Nearest Invention
Microsoft showcased a future computer in the Computer Electronics Show (CES) 2009. They showed a video "Future of Computing" in the CES held at Las Vegas. According to them, we can move our digital stuff by using our hands. There is no need of any stylus or mouse!
Waste Recycling Machine
One of the most frightening thoughts about our future is waste management. Several attempts made by the government or NGOs have not been fully successful in reducing the usage of non-degradable products. If this usage keeps on increasing in the current fashion, the future will see a lot of problems related to pollution. The solution to this is to have a proper waste management system in place.
Waste Recycling machine
What's the Idea
How about having a waste recycling machine that produces notebooks? Yes, I am not talking about the regular recycling machines that give us raw material that we need to put to effective use. If we build recycling machines that produce a particular product out of the waste, it will do a great deal of help to the environment as well. For example, we can have a machine that melts plastic and puts it into molds to make toys.
What Can Go Wrong
The harmful material in all the products need to be first separated from the raw material, and then the material needs to be used for building a new product. This process will need additional machinery.
Nearest Invention
We already have recycling machines. We can extend the machine's working to produce new products as well by using the waste material.
Real-time Language Translation
Today, many companies work with overseas clients and regularly conduct teleconferences with them. However, the biggest hurdle while dealing with these clients is the language of communication used. Many clients hire a translator who translates every sentence that is said during the meeting for the client. However, such an arrangement can be subjected to human errors, and there may be cases when the information is not passed on precisely.
Language Translator
What's the Idea
In order to avoid such errors, we can have a real-time language translation program. This program will translate all that is said into the desired language. Imagine the ease with which business deals can take place! Also, we may not need subtitles, dubbing, or reshooting for our films. We can watch the movies in a language that we understand.
What Can Go Wrong
The real-time translation program will suffer from time lag due to speech-to-speech translation. If the translated version of a particular word is not available in the software's database, there may be errors in the translated version.
Nearest Invention
Speech-to-text converter software have existed for a long time now and so has Google Translate. If we can combine these two programs together, we may get closer to creating the desired software.
Brain Interfaces
Whenever we have to work with our digital devices, we have to grab the device, boot it, and then start it in order to use it. Too much of a task, isn't it? How about opening a door by simply thinking about doing it? This interface may prove dangerous if used for wrong reasons, but then the security devices can also be operated by using our brains, literally!
brains being interfaced with digital devices
What's the Idea
When we speak of brain interfaces, the first picture that comes to our mind is that of the Star Trek guys. I am not saying that we all will go bald or look ugly due to our brains being interfaced with digital devices. However, we can have brain interfaces to connect to our digital equipment and even operate them. Whatever is on your mind will be followed by the digital devices.
What Can Go Wrong
Brain cells are very sensitive, and the chips that are used to interface the brain with digital devices will have electrons traveling. This electrical conduction, though in μS/cms, can have long-lasting effects on brain cells.
Nearest Invention
Honda has developed a technology that can read brain patterns through hair. The brainwaves of the driver will be self-calibrated with the sensors, so that the sensors will identify and ignore the unwanted thoughts. The hat that is developed by Honda, will read the brainwaves and thus, the car's functions like controlling the wipers or changing the songs can be performed, by just thinking of doing it.
Programmable Material
The material that are used as raw material in many industries are subjected to chemical reactions to change their properties. We can expect changes in such material, but what about plants? The photosynthesis that takes place in plants leads to the plant growth. If this process could be controlled, we could have better vegetative growth.
Analysis Of Plants
What's the Idea
Let me clarify here that I am not referring to gene prototyping or controlling. The material that are native to the plants if programmed, can control many growth parameters of the plant. We can actually determine how high the plants can grow and what will be their color, shape, etc. This will be of great help in the field of synthetic biology.
What Can Go Wrong
The genetic sequence of the plants will vary, and these changes will have effects on their features.
Nearest Invention
Nanotechnology has enabled scientists to program bacteria in such a manner that these bacteria are directed to locations where they may be useful. If we can change the path of a moving object, we can surely alter the properties of plants.
Easy-to-build Homes
Today, unless and until you have constructed your own house, you cannot expect a home that matches your dream house. And with the economic conditions getting worse, I wonder how many of us will drop the "construct your own home" option? With the limitation of construction land, we need to have a compact yet comfortable home where our family can live in harmony.
Blueprint of House
What's the Idea
The solution to this can be to build your own homes. How? We can actually make blueprints of our houses using software and then feed the construction machine with raw material that are needed to build the house. Wait for some time (days, actually) and ta-da, your house is built. Sounds like a dream, right? But guys, most of you may be aware of the 3D printers. These amazing printers will be our partners in crime.
What Can Go Wrong
As the raw material is fed
to the machines, specifications of the material will be very high. Also, the blueprints need to be created for every particular wall and door that is created, which is very time-consuming.
Nearest Invention
3D printers are capable of printing objects via blueprints developed by us. If we can build toys, jewelry, or even chocolates, then we can surely print houses. Imagine living in a 3D-printed house!
Automated Commercial Vehicles
Auto-pilot mode is a normal feature in many automobiles. But, we cannot trust the feature completely, can we? There are many accidents that take place due to human errors, like drunken driving, sleep-deprived driving, etc. Many lives are lost in road accidents. So, how about having an unmanned, automated commercial vehicle that will operate in an auto-mode by default.
What's the Idea
Unmanned, automated automobiles will have various options, like track identification, motion sensor, vehicle-distance measurement, anti-collision sensors, etc. With the help of these sensors, all the aspects that humans consider while driving will be fed to the processor. May be in the near future, we might get to travel in a bus which doesn't have a driver!
What Can Go Wrong
The sensor's functionality will be of utmost importance in such machines. If the sensor output varies even in mA values, the output function will be completely different. The deviation limit setting is the most risky element in the program.
Nearest Invention
Automated guided vehicles perform the same task but on a smaller level. If we can create foolproof automobiles with these features, we may be in for a super future!
Self-checking devices
A machine that is a part of a huge assembly line needs to be manually checked for its accuracy, each time it is used. If there is any deviation in the machine settings, its outcome will be hampered. Due to a faulty output from one machine, the product has to be again subjected to each process in the assembly line. Trust me, this is a tedious task and many a time, repeating the entire process costs the company a hefty amount.
What's the Idea
How about having machines that self-check their outputs. Today, we have humans deployed at workstations who manually subject the machine's output to testing methods. But then again, there are chances of human error. The machines, before giving the output, will self-check the products. This will reduce the manufacturing cost and time to a great extent.
What Can Go Wrong
Due to the error detection and correction in each device, the production lag time will increase. Also, breakdown in one checking device will mean that entire machine will break down, thus affecting the production.
Nearest Invention
We already had self-test programs in small machines that compare the given product with the standard value. It is just that we need to incorporate this feature in the manufacturing machines itself.
This list can go on and on. Our imagination has no limits and so does technology. A couple of years back, touchscreens were just a thought, but today, they are a reality. Who knows, may be one of these ideas may become a reality in the near future!
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