The Top 10 Technology Game Changers for the Next Decade
Check out the incredible technological innovations that are poised to change our lives in the very near future.
This content was produced by GOOD with the support of Intel
How close to reality are some of our most futuristic fantasies? Consider that going to the moon was once a giant step for mankind, but in the near future you’ll be able to purchase a two week vacation to the International Space Station (if you've got a few million bucks to spare, of course). Here’s our list of ten incredible technological innovations that are poised to change our lives within the next decade.
Microscopic nanorobots placed inside the human body to fight disease from within will make enormous strides in the next ten years. Eventually, we’ll eliminate the need for invasive surgery and chemotherapy. The cancer cure we're seeking might not come as a magic pill, but rather a technological advancement enabling us to repair from within using microchips one-billionth of a meter in size. The future is now at Cyberdyne, a Japanese electronics firm manufacturing Hybrid Assisted Limbs for Parkinson’s patients and miniaturizing from there.
In the next decade, the simple act of pulling out a smartphone to take photos and record videos will seem clunky and outmoded. What if you could simply touch a button on your sunglasses and instantly record your surroundings exactly as you see them? The design team behind YouGen.tv is hoping to do just that. Their Epiphany Eyewear glasses will incorporate “magic glass”—chromatic shifting conductive glass—to power their instant on-off recording feature. The data captured from a first person’s perspective can be streamed to social networks, and has untold implications for learning, as you'll literally be able to see through someone else’s eyes. “We believe this will raise the overall level of human empathy across the world,” said Erick Miller, founder of YouGen.tv.
The building blocks of the human body may contain clues to unlock underlying causes of diseases. Life Technologies is producing a genome sequencing map to explore an individual’s DNA within 24 hours, potentially preventing future diseases. Cost is expected to plummet to $1,000 by the end of the year. Expect a more targeted treatment of cancer and other life-threatening diseases based on a unique genetic blueprint.
Bring the factory to your desk. 3-D printing is a profound technological change which seems to have endless potential uses. Need a replacement part for a kitchen appliance, your guitar or an architectural model? Pull it up, print it out and you're ready to go. Yes, we’re starting small, but imagine planes, cars, houses and skyscrapers built this way. In the next ten years, we’ll create bone and dental implants, hearing aids, arterial stents, even surgical tools. San Francisco-based Bespoke Innovations Inc prints customized artificial limb coverings. Inexpensive complete prosthetic limbs, dishwasher-safe, are next.
Visual Learning Robotics
Imagine an Internet that thinks and sees like humans. Diffbot, which recently raised $2 million in seed funding, uses visual learning robots to extract and analyze content on the web the same way that people do. “Diffibot’s mission is to teach software robots to understand webpages, so that we can extract meaningful information and build a database of freely accessible human knowledge,” says founder Mike Tung. Diffbot is already being used by AOL to pull relevant content from the web and organize stories for its iPad magazine.
Internet Data Expansion
Forget megabytes and gigabytes. Bandwidth will multiply three million times through the next ten years, surpassing terabytes, petabytes and exabytes to reach zettabytes. Internet data will be high definition video living in a real-time cloud. Always-on connectivity will be standard across 15 billion devices worldwide. “We’re trying to prove you can do interesting things with brain waves,” said Intel researcher Dean Pomerleau in an interview with CNET. “Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts.”
Commercial Space Exploration
Would you prefer a sub-orbital jaunt for thirty minutes or an orbital vacation for two weeks? The SpaceX astronauts on the shuttle Dragon successfully docked with the International Space Station, an orbiting laboratory, and returned to Earth last month. Commercial enterprise catches up with government-led scientific endeavor, and it’s all aboard. John Gedmark, expert on commercial spaceflight, says, “In 10 years, we could see them flying thousands of people into space each year.” Expect to see prices fall from $50 million to $10 million per seat for orbital flights and down to $50,000 for a sub-orbital ride.
Underwater machines will clean up oil spills from beneath. We’ll manage marine oil extraction without oil platforms by 2020. FMC Technologies in Houston has a $1.5 billion contract with Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobas, for a subsea separation module. They'll be able to segregate heavy oil, gas, sand and water up to depths of 2,500 meters to reach significant offshore reserves located beneath an extensive salt layer 2,000 meters thick.
According to David Jacobs of TechKnowledge Consulting Corporation, voice recognition will take over keypads in the next decade. Your Caller ID will be pulled, greet you by name, access your records, book your flights or deliver your dinner. Siri is merely a stop on the road to voice recognition capabilities that can create even higher degrees of efficiency, with application in hospital emergency rooms at the top of the list.
Boeing forecasts a rise of 4.2 percent annually in air passenger travel through the next decade and beyond. Good news for weary passengers: the Human Recognition Systems and InSight from AOptix Technologies will be waiting for you at the customs counter. The technology captures your eye's iris at a meter’s distance. By matching the scan to IDs and boarding passes, it can speed movement through airports, making passport control—and passports—obsolete. It’s already being showcased in Qatar.
Image 1 via (cc) Flickr user BiblioArchives/LibraryArchives; Image 2 via YouGen.tv; Image 3 via Wikimedia user ALoopingIcon; Image 4 via Wikimedia user Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuño; Image 5 via public domain (Mattes)