When we think about the future of technology, most of us probably expected or envisioned where everyone zips around in flying cars or lives on the Moon. However, when looking at some of the technologies in route to being made available, things may not turn out quite like that-at least for now.
From simple advances in battery power, “All Assistants” and even human medical sensors, these new technologies are changing the way we live now and will change our lives in the future entirely.
The humble battery is found in nearly every kind of modern gadget yet it hasn't advanced itself in decades. With electric cars growing in popularity and ever increasing mobile phone use big companies are investing heavily in battery research. The result will be huge advances as soon as next year. One recent announcement could see us looking at batteries in a new way entirely. uBeam transmits power over the air much like Wi-Fi does with data. It's limited to a room but can be adapted for most gadgets with a small 5mm plate attachment. Expect to see "Free power" next to "Free Wi-Fi" at coffee shops soon.
Scientists have also developed batteries that run from water dew in the air, solar power through the screen, sound vibrations in the atmosphere and even human urine. These things combined could create enough power to avoid ever needing to recharge the phone.
But while recharging is still on the agenda there have been a few developments to speed that up. StoreDot is a charger, worth £20, that can charge your current phone to full in 30-seconds and should be on sale in 2016.
Devices that talk to each other are no longer a new thing with mobiles controlling lighting and more. Indeed the smart home is coming on leaps and bounds with Apple talking about its HomeKit software and Samsung buying up SmartThings. But this is just the start. Even now, your home can be smart enough to know where you are, based on your phone or car, and adjust heating to suit your arrival time. It can be set to unlock when you get near, turn on the lights and music that follow you about the home to save power. Even your washing machine is smart enough to wash a load ready for your return, should you need it to. But at this stage it all still takes programming.
Smart heating devices like Nest give us a glimpse of what is to come. These devices will soon be able to work out what we need before we even need to think about it. Everything in the home and even out and about will run perfectly without the need for us to interact. From our cars driving us to work without us even having to say anything to our shopping and train costs being paid wirelessly.
You may have noticed health tracking sensors, like heart rate monitors, starting to appear in gadgets like mobiles and watches. This is just the start. These sensors are appearing as one of Google's “tricorders” to track an individual’s health, all from one gadget. The future of this is a complete health monitoring suite that is built into everyone's phones, smartwatches, or even under-the-skin implants. That will mean doctors can track their patients constantly and react to any needs immediately.
In the short term this is going to apply to patients like diabetics, who need to track bloody sugar levels using the latest infrared tech. But this could be far broader in the future. Eating too much fat and putting your heart at risk? You doctor will know and could let you know to cut back.
Scientists have already created a wrist plate that by changing temperatures only a few degrees, can change the entire human body temperature. Imagine getting on a hot train and adjusting your own temperature to remain cool. That's just the beginning of what could be possible.
Siri, Cortana and Google Now voice assistants will seem like the original Nokia phone with “Snake” on it compared to what's coming. All the big named companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are embarking on a race to achieve a truly smart assistant. Not only will this help to run the interconnected smart home mentioned above, but it will also, effectively, replace Google as the new hub for searching the internet. Google bought artificial intelligence mobile messaging assistant “Emu”. Apple is reportedly planning a Siri desktop assistant that "acts like a third hand" and Microsoft wants Cortana to work like a real-world assistant. They're all a ways off but with huge investments in artificial intelligence it might not be long before they become far more life-like.
Cyc is a computer intelligence that was recently announced but has been secretly learning for the last 30 years. The result is a smart computer that can read between the lines to understand what a person is saying beyond words alone. This combined with the recent Turing Test loss to a machine, meaning it appeared human, hail a future of human-like robotic intelligence.
As you can see, these innovative technologies will completely change the way we go about our lives. From productivity to maintaining our own health, these developmentswill change it all.
Zachary T. Brown