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Futuristic human technology
Introduction – As the world evolves so does future technology
It is extremely hard to predict exactly how the future may look, however with the information we have gleaned today from a variety of sources, we can offer thoughts on what may be around the corner! There have been immense technological improvements in the last century (see the graph below for a visual outline of this) which would suggest technology has the potential to continue transforming our future.
In this blog, we look into new technology that may be soon on the horizon and how it could affect our future world, as well as current examples of technology you may not even be aware of!
Some potential changes
Today there are many ongoing innovation projects that people may never have believed would ever make it out of science-fiction books. With the development in robotics and holograms for example, we are sure the future holds a range of different and new technological advances.
Here are some of the most interesting innovative concepts we found:
Many technological developments have come from replicating the attributes of animals, and these gloves are no exception. They are designed to act like octopus suckers. The gloves can create a strong grip without crushing objects.
- Brain reading robots – brain reading technology has developed significantly over the years, and scientists have now been able to create a means for tetraplegic patients (those who can’t move their upper or lower body) to interact with the world. In tests, the robot arm would perform simple tasks like moving around an obstacle, using algorithms and signals from the brain. Over time the algorithm can then adjust to the individual’s preferences and brain signals. In the future this could lead to wheelchairs controlled by the brain or assistance machines for tetraplegic patients.
- Xenotransplantation – the procedure of transplanting, implementing, or infusing a human with cells, tissues, or organs from an animal source. This procedure has the potential to revolutionise surgery. One of the most interesting procedures performed so far has been the insertion of a pig’s heart into a human body. Despite having mixed results so far, continued work is ongoing with this in relation to ‘gene-editing’ and immune acceptance. One to keep an eye on.
- Energy storing bricks – scientists have found a way to store energy in the red bricks that are used to build houses. Although the research is still in the proof-of-concept stage, scientists claim that walls made of these bricks “could store a substantial amount of energy” and can “be recharged hundreds of thousands of times within an hour”.
Clothes that can hear
Wearable technology has come on leaps and bounds over the years, adding new functionalities to what we wear every day. Researchers have created clothing that can detect a heartbeat, handclaps, and faint noise. The material is currently a work in progress, with hopes of it being rolled out over the next few years.
A look into technologies that will have a big impact!
This refers to the ability of how machines can learn / act intelligently; this means they can make decisions, carry out tasks and predict future outcomes based on what is picked up using data.
You may not realise but currently there are many examples of this being used in day-to-day life already. Such examples are Alexa, Siri, Netflix personalised recommendations, dating apps and more. There are some risks around future products made with AI which pose threat to humans, such as AI-enabled autonomous weapons, that other countries are racing to develop. However, to offer some balance, without AI, we wouldn't have achieved the amazing advances in innovation like virtual reality, chatbots, facial recognition, robotics, automation, or self-driving cars, just to name a few.
Extended reality (XR)
Extended reality, or XR for short, encompasses virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality and refers to the use of technology to create more immersive digital experiences. This technology is currently being used to boost brand engagement. It provides people with the option to try before you buy, enhance customer service, and improve organisational procedures.
This technology has already been implemented, with apps such as Pokémon Go, which generated over $3 billion in global revenue in 2018. It gives people the opportunity to be whoever and wherever in the universe they like.
But accessibility and availability are obvious obstacles to overcome, given that XR headsets can be pricey, bulky, and clunky. But this technology will become more commonplace, affordable, and comfortable to use, which will only increase the chance of widespread consumption.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, means creating a 3D object from a digital file by building it layer by layer. This technology has the potential to completely transform manufacturing and other industries. Using 3D printing, the factories of the future could quickly print spare parts for machinery on site. Entire assembly lines could be replaced with 3D printers.
However there is an arguable downside to 3D printing. While having the potential to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing by using less materials overall, it is important to consider the environmental impact of the printers themselves. The negative impact comes from the use of plastic used to create shapes when in production. As there is a lot of support material used it creates a lot of waste.
Human augmentation has developed significantly in recent years, and we wanted to take a further look into this. It’s easy to conjure up images of sci-fi style bionic limbs and other futuristic inventions. However, human augmentation is more prevalent than many people realise.
This form of technology can provide enhancements or improvements to normal human health, quality of life, performance, and functionality.
There are three broad categories of augmentation technologies:
- Those that replicate something we already have (such as prosthetic limbs)
- Those that improve an ability we have (such as making us smarter or stronger)
- Those that add a new ability (such as seeing infrared light)
Below are some examples of augmentation that are regularly used but you may not be aware of, and some that may completely shock you:
- Glasses – with glasses being the oldest invention on the list, it is safe to say they serve their purpose. This invention has been helping people to see since the 13th century.
- Smart glasses – a huge advancement following the adoption of regular glasses….smart glasses! These give wearers a view of augmented reality, giving people the opportunity to visualise a screen like that of a computer; these screens can have overlays of important information that can be hugely beneficial.
Not often considered a human augmentation technology, orthodontics provides the ability to maintain and restore the function of teeth and gums. In today’s world, we can experience realistic tooth replacements or veneers.
- Bionic eyes – currently these are not available, but we feel it’s getting closer! One company has been working on developing a wearable device that uses cameras to display an image of the environment in front of the user which enables legally blind people to see. Another company has created contact lenses that have an 2.8x zoom, and Samsung has completed a design for contact lenses that can produce an augmented reality display.
- Smart earbuds – companies have been working to create a set of earbuds that are able to translate foreign languages in real-time to the wearer. Although still in development, such technology would result another means of learning foreign languages as well as plenty of efficiency gains to be made with translating!
- Hearing aids – the first electric hearing aid was invented in 1898. Since then, the technology has advanced massively and now there are many different features that include amplifying voices in front of you while muting incidental noise.
- Prosthetic limbs – the engineering of prosthetics has become significantly more sophisticated over the years. Prosthetics that allow users to feel extremely high levels of dexterity and in some cases even simulate feeling have been developed. There are technologies that allow the user to ‘feel’ through signals sent to the brain, pressure and positioning of the leg.
So, what’s to come…
What is next for the world of human tech? It is hard to say what could and may not happen, but as the Earth evolves so will technology. We wonder if many of the examples mentioned within this blog will make it to the market.
We would enjoy hearing any thoughts you have on this subject. Please email email@example.com with any comments & questions.