Predicting the future is an exciting prospect as it offers endless possibilities! We live in a time when the only constant is evolution in technology. So what does the future promise… teleportation or a promise for something more exclusive? It is a boon that tech driven innovations are now at its peak. From the cross over to cassettes from vinyl and now to CDs and mp3s, we have seen the birth and redundancy of floppy discs, the dial up, adsl and LTE connections. However, looking back at 1985 when Doc and Marty McFly traveled to 2015 in “Back to the Future” it’s ironic to see what they predicted and where technology surpassed their imagination!
We expected the future to indulge our travel fantasies, and true to that, we saw ho verboards & flyboards zipping across, not just on land but over the sea as well! Curved flat screen televisions, seamless video resolution, online and VOIP communication, were on the cards. People in the movie were identified thru eye scans and similar biometric technology is now at play. Today people use their fingerprints to unlock their iPhones or check into their offices, fitness gyms etc. 3D technology, the “hologram”, AI and VR devices were also predicted to happen, and so they did, more or less.
Now, as 2016 goes by, we’re still hoping for the self-lacing shoes, even though Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield already announced that self-tying sneakers might become a reality soon. Fingers crossed, friends. Time travel and flying cars are still to come… or are they? As many of these futuristic technologies already exist, or will be accessible in the near future, technology marches steadily ahead.
So, what to expect in 2017…
1. Virtual Reality: As 2016 was an exciting year for VR, public for the first time experienced their senses being sufficiently tricked and the feeling of fully transported into the virtual world. This year, however, the VR headsets will continue to improve and get even more affordable. Predictions are that major areas of research will include: new tools for creating rendered and/or filmed VR content, machine vision for tracking and scanning directly from phones and headsets, and back-end systems for hosting large virtual environments. In 2017 the VR will also take special role in education, creating the classrooms of the future. Pre-recorded lectures that students could download and listen to at their leisure, classes with live video conferencing and lectures that take place miles away. And not only education, the VR will emerge in many fields like medicine, architecture, and entertainment…
But, experts say that Augmented Reality will grow faster than virtual reality. So far, there are more useful applications in AR, such as training and repair work with overlays showing how to perform a function or fix. While VR is something cool, AR is something practical and practicality always wins. But technology wise, the AR will probably a bit later, obviously after VR, because it requires additional new technologies, more so than VR. For example, AR requires advanced, low-latency machine vision in order to convincingly combine real and virtual objects in the same interactive scene.
As seen on WESTWORLD… The TV show that quickly became the big TV phenomenon, not only showcased a futuristic TV theme, but it is a perfect showcase for next generation technology and the repercussions we might begin to arrive at. From book-like tablets right through to the headline ‘hosts’ – robots that look, sound and even begin speak and think like humans – Westworld’s rich universe and its future-gazing technology sets the big question: what will be the first thing we’ll have?
2. Brighter, shatterproof, and ultra-flexible digital displays: 2017 is set to have the graphene electronic papers (e-papers) put on the market. Being stronger, lighter, and more flexible than OED’s foremost e-paper, they also make for brighter displays. Graphene itself is very thin (a single layer is 0.335 nanometers thick, yet 150 times stronger than the equivalent weight of steel). Because of such properties, graphene can be used to make hard or flexible displays for devices like e-readers or wearable smart watches. E-papers are thinner and more bendable compared to liquid crystal displays and also more energy efficient because they only use energy when their display changes.
3. Internet of Things (IoT): Even though IoT is still struggling being a solution in search of a market and the public is still responding to the IoT solutions with “Why would I need this, again?” it will continue to grow in 2017. The most noticeable uses for IoT solutions currently are in energy savings, security, and convenience. There is a wide assortment of new digital platforms currently designed and differently packaged, but they all share a universal idea: providing new and augmented abilities by embedding a smart virtualization. The building of completely connected homes and simpler and easier living are the two most common premises for the IoT builders at the present. Probably it will take a while, but not too long, before we have AI bots that can carry on full conversations. Predictions are that language understanding will evolve and improve quickly. IoT will also be adopted in business contexts. For example, devices with sensors and network connections are extremely useful for monitoring industrial equipment etc.
4. The future of the cars: So far, one of the most exciting announcements is the Faraday Future’s concept car, “a premium electric vehicle that combines extreme technology, industry leading range and holistic design”. The key to an intuitive user experience (UX) is an intelligent user interface (UI) so they’ve created a car with a sixth sense for its drivers needs. Anyway, the semi-autonomous cars like the Tesla Model S are already publicly available and will improve quickly and rapidly, but for the full autonomy cars it will probably take a while, although they’re probably not more than 5 years away. However, for several (especially safety) reasons, the fully autonomous cars will likely need to be significantly better than human drivers before they are widely permitted.
5. Wearables: Whether smart watches, activity gear, sport and fitness monitors, the wearable gadgets took really good place in 2016 and will continue to spread in the years that follow. The wearables marketplace will feature even more dimensions, including everything from high-tech fashion and smart jewelry to wearables that track the mood, activity and even pets. As hardware components continue to improve, wearables will support applications just as smartphones do, unlocking a wide range of new applications. Collaborations between sensors, low-energy Bluetooth, cloud computing, 3D printing, flexible membranes are transforming age-old fashions to the next global trend. Furthermore after the Siri, and with IoT, voice will probably grow to be the main user interface.
6. Mass usage of the Google Glass: Being a wearable technology device, the Google Glass, will soon help to fight crime. Thanks to specially engineered software that incorporates facial recognition technology police with using the Google Glass will be able to catch criminals better. In addition to the facial recognition software, police officers will be able to record video, take pictures, access the Internet and utilize a variety of apps with the device. The device also has the ability to hold police officers accountable to citizens. Currently the Dubai police department is using four pairs of Google Glass, and hopes to have one of the ‘smartest’ police departments in the world by 2018.
7. E-showers replacing the regular ones: With innovation at its finest, the E-shower is designed to circulate the same drop of water 7 times before descending into the sewer system, using a modest 15 liters of water per cycle. This means that while you shower, water’s captured in the shower tray, which then descends into a filter that uses UV light to destroy bacteria and other contaminants. The shower uses a smart stop that blocks larger objects, like hair and dead skin, from re-entering the water for extra filtration. After filtering 1.5 liters of fresh, hot water, the hot water’s mixed in to restore water temperature, giving you that fresh shower feeling.
8. Medical Micro Robotics: The engineers from Drexel University, Philadelphia have successfully developed their first micro-robots, thus creating a breakthrough in biomedical engineering. When utilized, super-miniature robots will work as doctors’ and nurses’ helpers, as well as fixing ailments in the body by making necessary incisions and regulating blood flow. These micro robots seem to be an extremely promising development within the world of medicine, especially effective for minor surgeries and inserting drugs into the body.
9. Drones: Scary or not, the Orwellian state, as imagined in the novel 1984, somehow seems to become our modern day reality. Drones are predicted to incorporate advanced computer vision and other AI to make them even safer, easier to pilot, and most importantly, more useful. Yes, recreational videography will continue to be popular, but there will be more important drone uses. Tens of millions of dangerous jobs like climbing buildings, towers, and other structures will be performed much more safely and effectively using drones. With the widespread use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the unavoidable future of autonomous self-driving transport, drones may even come to replace police cars currently roaming the streets.
There are so many innovations lined up in the future, all we can do is to explore the possibilities, seize the opportunities and take advantage in the best possible way to see if these predictions were spot on.