Crazy Things Of The Future Experts Predict Will Soon Be A Reality
Hyperspeed travel, artificial ovaries and more.
There was a time when gadgets like affordable virtual reality, watches that tracked your health and video phones seemed like far-fetched dreams from a sci-fi writer’s mind. Today, they’re all commonplace and, in fact, you might have every one of them within 10 feet of you.
Technology has made immeasurable gains in just the past 100 years, but there are still plenty of crazy ideas that seem way too futuristic today. Would you even believe us if we said they really aren’t that far away? We’ve rounded up some of the best examples of future technological advances that are close to being very real parts of our everyday lives.
For at least five years, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been talking about his vision for an ultra-fast passenger travel system called a hyperloop — and it’s now close to becoming a reality. The technology would connect major cities using a large vacuum tube that would hold trains that can travel around 700 miles per hour, essentially bringing airplane speed to the ground. Musk has already been given permission to start work on a hyperloop that would connect Washington with New York, making for a 29-minute trip versus the 3.5-hour train ride it is today. But the first completed hyperloop will likely be in India, where Virgin’s Hyperloop One has been under construction since 2018.
Male Birth Control
Given that non-surgical, women’s birth control has been on the market since the 1960s, it’s ridiculous that it’s taken so long for a men’s option to appear — but it’s very close to a reality now. There are several new options undergoing clinical trials in the U.S. now, including a pill and a gel that would stop sperm production when being used. The gel is the furthest along and looks to be about a decade away from being available.
Another huge advancement in the medical field would be artificial ovaries, which are closer than ever to becoming a reality for millions of women who struggle with infertility. Researchers in Denmark have successfully created artificial ovaries and predict that their idea could be made partially from a patient’s own tissues. These bioengineered ovaries were able to survive in mice in 2018, which was a promising step forward for the research.
For years, electric cars that could be plugged in instead of filled up seemed like a sci-fi dream, but they’re all over the road today. Now, electric aviation is the next such dream that is soon to become real. An electric airplane already flew with a passenger in 2012, but it was only able to go a fraction of the speed of a normal jet. Still, scientists hope that when these become comparable and commonplace, airline tickets will be much cheaper due to the lack of fuel needed to power flights. TechCrunch estimates it will be about 2030 before we see a commercial flight that’s electric.
Teenagers already look way more grown up today than they did when we were in high school, but imagine if they also never had to deal with breakouts! Scientists in California have been working on a vaccine that could prevent acne, testing it on mice and in skin cells from acne patients. The shot would apparently target a toxic protein given off by bacteria everyone carries inside their body. The researchers are hoping to get funding for a clinical trial soon.
No, we’re not going back to flip phones. Smartphones that are fully foldable, including the screen, in order to shrink down to basically any pocket size, will be showing up in stores before long. Samsung is leading the charge here, showing off its first phone with a foldable display in November 2018. Samsung’s version is the size of a typical tablet but, when folded, it’s the size of a typical phone, giving users more capability with less size.
This one sounds pretty far-fetched, but a flying taxi service is closer to reality than most of the other innovations on this list. Uber has already launched a company called Uber Air and it plans to deploy a network of ride-sharing aerial taxis — think a combination helicopter and car — in 2023. The company has already designed and built scale models of its own flying taxis with the help of Bell Helicopter and will begin testing them in 2020.
Floating, Hurricane-Proof Homes
This is a dream for anyone who lives in an area where hurricane destruction is a dangerous reality. A startup housing company called Arkup has teamed up with a Miami-based yacht charter company to design buoyant houses that can stay where they are but rise with sea levels by using a hydraulic system. The currently designed houses are 4,350 square feet and are retailing for about $5 million each. Hopefully, a more affordable option will become available in years to come.
Of all the tech on this list, these may be the furthest from being a reality but it doesn’t mean they aren’t on the horizon. In 2017, an Apple executive who was behind Siri stated that “it’s inevitable” that A.I. will be used to enhance our memories in the near future. Elon Musk himself funds a company called Neuralink that is working on technology that could allow us to upload and download thoughts so we never lose them.
The idea of people being able to look through your walls is pretty scary but tech has been in development for years to allow U.S. soldiers to do just that. The system, which is being developed at MIT, would analyze radio waves to put together a digital, 3D picture of who is in a nearby room that can be seen by a person wearing an augmented-reality headset. The technology currently projects a stick figure-like animation that mimics a person’s movements behind walls.
If you’re reading this in some parts of the country, you’re probably thinking that automated delivery trucks are already a reality. But they’ll become more commonplace everywhere in the near future. Domino’s Pizza has already tested self-driving robot pizza delivery and a startup called Zume has taken it a step further by having robots make and deliver its pizzas inside a high-tech truck. In January 2019, students at George Mason University in Virginia began testing on-campus food deliveries made by robots.
Condoms have pretty much been the same-old, same-old for decades, but they could be getting a high-tech upgrade very soon. Researchers at Boston University have invented a condom that’s capable of lubricating itself as needed. Once testing is finished, the researchers hope this option will make condoms more appealing to people who prefer not to use typical condoms, leading to fewer unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
VR Changing Rooms
If you’re like me, one of the most annoying things about going shopping is having to take off your clothes every time you want to try on something new. Smartphone apps and virtual dressing rooms are going to help make that a thing of the past. Products like Swivel Selfie, a virtual-reality app that allows users to preview what various outfits will look like on their bodies, are already available. In-store databases that allow you to see what you’d look like in all the clothing available at a store will probably be coming soon.
AI Sign Language Courses
Learning sign language is as difficult as learning any new language, but it requires more than an audiobook because of the obvious visual component. Researchers in England have developed a program they hope can use artificial intelligence to teach people sign language in a hands-on way that doesn’t require a human teacher. The program involves a camera that films the student doing various lessons while the AI watches and analyzes them, pointing out mistakes and giving custom feedback.
OK, this one sounds insane but a tourist trip to space, including several nights in space, is very close to being a reality. A tech company called Orion Span has already developed a space hotel called Aurora Station that it claims will be ready for guests in 2022. The space station will be able to host six people, including two crew members, for 12-day vacations in space. The price tag for a stay? About $10 million.
Another thing that robots will be commonly used for in the near future is parking cars. Imagine going to the airport and not having to park your car in some far-off lot because an automated valet can take care of it for you. Passengers at Britain’s Gatwick Airport have recently been able to experience that with help from a robot named Stan, which was designed by the French company Stanley Robotics. Stan works by towing the car to a designated spot and storing the information in its memory for later pickup.
Smart Grocery Stores
This one is already well under development and you’ll likely find a high-tech grocery store near you soon. Grocery chain Kroger has teamed up with Microsoft to create two futuristic test stores that use cloud technology, AI and other ideas to make shopping easier and more exciting. The test store includes shelves with digital displays that highlight when something is on a shopper’s list or if something is on sale, and it has features that monitor for out-of-stock items or changing temperatures that could affect food safety. In 2016, Amazon opened a store that allows customers to simply walk out the door with items that are tracked by sensors so the customer could be charged without having to wait in a checkout line.
AI Traffic Programs
There likely isn’t a single person in the world who enjoys sitting in traffic — and programs being developed now could help make traffic jams a thing of the past. Several AI programs are currently being tested around the world that monitor traffic patterns as they happen and adjust things like traffic light times to drastically cut commute times. One such program has been used in Pittsburgh since 2012 and researchers say it has resulted in wait times at intersections being cut by 40 percent and emissions dropping by 20 percent.
Truly Wireless Charging
Charging your phone (or any device) can be a pain but, in the near future, you may not need any type of cable or charging pad to keep the battery full. Companies like Energous have already produced products that allow you to charge devices wirelessly, within a certain distance. The ultimate dream is that these products will be powerful enough to turn your entire home into a wireless charging zone so that every battery in your house is always at 100 without you having to do anything.
This one sounds like a superpower but scientists are working to make it doable with a consumer product. Researchers at MIT have designed a device called AlterEgo, which is a wearable device that can silently send the user’s thoughts to computing devices or even to other people also wearing the device. Users just need to “silently speak” the words they wish to be used as commands and AlterEgo transmits them. The device is still being tested but it sounds promising, especially for people who are unable to communicate verbally.
This is another one that’s already being used in some parts of the world but has the capability of becoming a commonplace fixture of every kitchen. There are restaurants in major cities that are completely manned by robots, but a company called Moley Robotics has created what it calls the world’s first robotic personal chef. The device is able to prepare complex meals using pre-programmed recipes. Unfortunately, it’s estimated to cost up to $15,000 right now.
Easy Tattoo Removal
Ask anyone who’s gotten a tattoo they regret, and they’ll tell you that having it removed is an expensive pain in the butt. But what if you could just put a cream on the tattoo that would remove the ink? A company called Cipher Pharmaceuticals recently bought the rights to a topical cream developed by researchers in Canada that claims to do just that. More testing needs to be done before it’s made available to consumers, but the cream is said to make the process affordable and painless.
Another advancement in body art that could be coming soon is a tattoo that can monitor your body to make sure you’re healthy. Researchers at Harvard and MIT have teamed up to develop tattoos that have biosensors in the ink. These futuristic inks are able to change colors based on what’s happening in a person’s body, such as fluctuating blood glucose levels in a diabetic or showing if someone is getting dehydrated.
Personalized Theme-Park Rides
Imagine a ride at your favorite theme park being able to change based on how much you’re enjoying it, or being able to shift the focus to wherever you happen to be looking. The famous Imagineers at Disney have filed to patent a system that would optimize rides to fit each individual rider. The system would be able to tell if someone was feeling sick, changing the movement of the ride to make it easier on them, or to make certain parts of the ride interact with them if eye-tracking cameras show they’re looking intently at a certain prop.
Cars That Don’t Allow Drunk Driving
This is one that’s been a long time coming and is closer than ever to being a reality. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been working on technology that can be used to prevent drunk driving in all cars in more efficient ways than a simple breathalyzer tube. The tech includes a breathalyzer on the driver-side door that will smell the driver’s breath from a distance, shutting the car down if it detects illegal amounts. It’s also working on a device that can measure the driver’s blood alcohol content through their fingertips on the steering wheel.