Step aside, solar power and 3D-printing — there are a few technologies who want a say in what the future might look like.
Many researchers don’t expect 3D-printing to reach its full potential for the next 15 – 20 years, but we’ve started making major progress on how we manufacture things, and solar power has been around for decades.
So what are the “next big things” you haven’t heard of yet? Here are five amazing technologies that’ll soon become as common as smartphones:
It’s not 2D…it’s not even 3D…it’s the ultra amazing, super cool 4D!
You’re probably thinking “But our eyes can only see in 3D!” That’s right, Johnny, but 4D isn’t a literal fourth dimension, at least not in this application.
4D-printing differs from 3D-printing in that 3D-printing can only create objects that keep the same form, whereas 4D-printing is all about creating objects that can change shape or even build themselves.
Check it out:
2. Smart Clothes
You may think that this concept should have been done years ago, or perhaps it’s never even crossed your mind, but you can rest easy in knowing that the smart clothes revolution is near.
Clothing with cool LEDs is nothing new (especially if you lived through the 80s), but smart clothes is just a bit more intelligent than that, going so far as to possess the ability to charge cellphones, interact with your smartphone, and more.
Check it out:
3. Driverless Cars
Do you wake up early in the morning and wish you didn’t have that 30-minute commute to work so you could get five more minutes of shut eye?
In a decade or so, you’ll be able to sleep behind the wheel — literally and legally. Google has been experimenting with driverless cars, and have made their car street-legal in several U.S. states.
This is important because of the insane amount of human deaths each year attributed to drunk driving, reckless driving, and more. Essentially, Google wants to take the human element out of the equation, and put an efficient robot behind the wheel of your car.
Check out this blind man test-driving one of Google’s cars:
4. Wearable Technology
Google Glass, Samsung’s smartwatch, and the rumored iWatch are just a few of the technologies that will become mainstream in the next few years.
As we become more and more connected with our technology, it makes sense that we develop better and more efficient ways of consuming content. This is where wearables come in.
First seen in films and television shows like The Jetsons, we’ve long dreamt of being more like “cyborgs” and power users.
Wearable technology isn’t just another tech gadget to end up in our junkpiles, at least not if it’s done correctly. Microsoft and Sony are some of the more well-known companies to dabble in wearable tech, but neither has developed a successful formula (i.e. their gadgets really, really suck).
Google may be onto something with their Google Glass initiative. For the moment, the Glasses can only function when connected to a smartphone, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a wearable in the first place.
However, that won’t always be the case. Google Glass (or something like it) will probably replace your smartphone in the next ten years. Futurists like Ray Kurzweil believe that smartphone technology is going to be a short-lived trend, and that wearables will become the “next big thing” in 10 years or so.
Here’s a demo video of what you can expect Google Glass to function like when it’s available to the public sometime around the end of 2014:
5. Consumer Drones
For many people, the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of drones will be flying over our heads in the next few years is terrifying. To others, it’s an exciting glimpse at the future, because for better or worse, drones are here to stay.
How we use this awesome technology is up to society and the lawmakers, although we haven’t heard very much about the consumer side of drone technology.
Check out the path to drone regulation:
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