We live in an exciting time of ubiquitous connectivity. Some of that gets a little dicey, as we forfeit a few basic consumer rights for supposedly better methods of distribution, but advances in technology are coming faster than ever before. To think that it was less than 60 years ago that we first began to research the idea of moving data across computer networks, and now we send text messages through relays in space!
So now that science has caught up with science fiction, what will our future look like?
Cars that Run on Alternative Energy
US News estimated that if a long-haul trucking fleet consuming upwards of 30 billion gallons of fuel per year switched to natural gas, crude oil imports would plunge dramatically. In addition to a lowered dependence on foreign oil, fleets would take advantage of the natural gas boom currently occurring in America. Other ideas for fuel include hydrogen, ethanol, and electricity.
Homes that Power Themselves
Consumer solar technology is becoming more affordable every day, leading many power customers to go off the grid, or earn renewable credits to offset the cost of cooling a family. The Federal Government even offers a tax credit for new customers, to encourage more people to sign up for the program currently offered by 40 states.
Additionally, some states benefit from a competitive marketplace. Electricity rates in Texas, for example, vary among providers, as the energy market is deregulated. Call your power company to see if your state offers the same.
Computers that You Can Wear
Google Glass will be a major step in wearable technology, but it’s not the first or the last. Nike has been in partnership for years with Apple to offer applications that track your running using sensors in your shoes, on your phone, and in mp3 players. Looking to keep your mp3 player charged out on the mountain? Try some wearable solar panels.
The tricorder of Star Trek fame could scan a body and identify specific medical ailments that the person or entity might be suffering. Today we have a variety of tools that are finely calibrated to measure the human body, but in the future doctors will use our DNA to look at a more comprehensive treatment plan. Computer analysis will help identify what’s wrong with our bodies, and advances in medicine will ensure that we have cures for those problems.
At a recent TED conference, researchers from Nanyang Technological University showed off an intriguing piece of tech that appeared to make a small colored strip disappear. Long hailed as a piece of science fiction nonsense, the solution appears to involve calcite crystal to bend light around something. It’s no secret that the US military would love to get its hands on this technology, but the material can also improve broadband internet and digital imaging hardware (like cameras).
Google translate helps people connect with others by bridging the language gap that naturally exists across the web. A company in Japan also debuted an app that takes spoken Japanese, runs the words through a translator, and produces English. This technology will only get better as voice recognition improves, providing hope that one day you will be able to make a call to anyone in the world and communicate to them in their language.