Predicting what the future will look like is never an easy task. In the 1950’s people were assured they would see flying cars zooming overhead by the 60’s, ten years later the most popular grand prediction was that we would all be blasting off on holiday to the moon by the 70’s, ten years after that… well, you get the picture. The future may not have turned out as some people expected, but there are plenty of futuristic, world changing inventions that are so close you can almost touch them. You thought flying cars were exciting (although they are coming soon too)? Just wait till you see what’s in store for the next few years.
You’ll be glad to know that this isn’t a list of predictions; all of these amazing things are either happening right now or just about to happen. There is an exciting future ahead of us, so read on and discover how the world is about to change.
#10 – The Hypospray
Are you afraid of needles? Many people have panic attacks at the thought of an injection; unfortunately they are a necessary evil, providing the only means for many lifesaving drugs and vaccines to enter our bodies.
There may now be light at the end of the tunnel for Trypanophobes, because it seems an invention is about to completely remove the need for hypodermic needles. The ‘Hypospray’ was first seen in the original Star Trek series as a way of painlessly administering drugs through the skin with just the click of a button. The thought seems too good to be true, but researchers at MIT have been inspired by this space age invention and have come up with their own design called a ‘Jet Injector’ which pushes mediation through the skin at the speed of sound. No more pain, no more blood and no more panic attacks!
#9 – Exoskeleton ‘Titan Arm’
Have you ever wanted to be twice as strong as you are right now without the hassle of visiting the gym 5 times a week? Thanks to some intrepid engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania, this superhuman strength will soon be achievable for anyone willing to don a ‘Titan Arm’ exoskeleton.
The Titan Arm allows anyone to lift an extra 40lbs of weight instantly; all you need to do is put on the backpack and attach the metal braces to your own arm and viola! Not only will this come is useful for showing off in the gym; people with disabilities and the elderly will soon be able to function as normal with the assistance of robotic exoskeletons like these. The Titan Arm looks set to cost around $1600 when the first version is released, which should happen when it receives retail approval.
#8 – Skylon Space Plane
With the demise of NASA’s space shuttle it seems the dream of a truly reusable space plane is a long way from reality; or is it? Not many people know about this groundbreaking development, but a whole new spacecraft design is currently in the works that makes the space shuttle look like a paper airplane.
Designed by the British company Reaction Engines Limited, the Skylon project is not only set to bring back the idea of a reusable space craft, but is also set to slash the cost of going to space. The cost of getting a spacecraft to low earth orbit is currently $15000 per KG; Skylon is set to reduce that to $650 per KG. This is thanks to the revolutionary SABRE engine which uses the Earths air as part of its fuel source.
#7 – Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is hardly a new idea, it kicked off in the 80’s and for a time was seen as the future of entertainment; unfortunately the lack of any realism and clunky machinery quickly put an end to the hopes of a virtual revolution.
As I’m sure many of you have heard virtual reality is about to make a big comeback and this time it looks set to stay. Much has happened since the 1980’s: HD screens, tiny computer components, advanced special effects, smaller hair styles; all of these innovations mean that virtual reality has everything it needs to become a massive industry.
Machines like the Occulus rift and HTC Vive are already fighting in what’s known as the VR Wars. All of these machines will be available to purchase in the next few years and are set to transform the way we consume entertainment.
#6 – Flying Cars
Finally! Several companies are vying to be the first to start delivering the first flying cars to customers and there are a few distinctive designs.
The PAL V1 looks like a helicopter mixed with a 3 wheeler; the Aeormobil is a bit more stylish with its supercar looks and large fixed wings; Mollers International Skycar is probably the most futuristic looking and can take of vertically like a jump jet!
All of these vehicles have been built and are going through the testing phases necessary to get permission to drive and fly in public spaces. The year to look forward to is 2017 which is when most of these companies say they can start selling their flying cars to the public. You may want to start saving now though; the cheapest of these vehicles looks set to cost $300,000 when first released.
#5 – Windowless Planes
No windows on a plane? What am I going to look at when we take off?! That’s slightly misleading though, because whilst the windows may be gone, they will be replaced with huge display screens projecting the live view outside.
But why go to all this trouble? Well the more windows a plane has, the more fuel it has to carry due to increased weight and air resistance; no windows mean faster and cheaper planes.
As someone who is not a good flyer often my only comfort is being able to look at the ceiling of the plane and pretend that I’m at home, on solid ground, not 30,000 feet up in an aluminium can. Nevertheless, having such a spectacular display has got to beat most in flight movies. The first windowless planes with live display screens are set to take off in 2018.
#4 – 3D Printed Food
3D printing has been around for a few years now and we seem to be edging closer and closer to the point where anyone can have their own 3D printer at home. We have been promised that we’ll soon be able to print our own clothes, furniture, toys and even guns! What most people didn’t expect is that we’ll also be able to print food.
This is another invention first seen in the Star Trek series, where ‘Replicators’ would produce full meals instantly to anyone who asked. We haven’t quite got to that point yet, but food printers are able to use basic ingredients to produce simple foods, like brownies, cookies and pizza bases. Even gourmet restaurants are accepting this food revolution with open arms; the accuracy of 3D food Printers allows them to create shapes that would be impossible for even the most skilled chef.
#3 – 1 Kilometre High Skyscraper
I’m sure we all remember the scenes from star wars on the city planet Coruscant or Bruce Willis’ Fifth Element where the buildings reached so high as to penetrate the clouds. It seems that we have now entered that age with the world’s first building taller than 1000m (3280 feet) already under construction.
The Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia is to be the centerpiece of a whole new city built along the Red Sea. It’s set to dwarf the current tallest building, The Burj Kalifa in Dubai, by over 180 meters and will cost $1.2 Billion. The actual height of the building is being kept a secret, but the developers have ensured us all that it will be over 1000 meters. The building will feature the highest observation deck in the world where on a clear day you will be able to see the curvature of the earth.
#2 – Electronic Paper
Imagine being able to unroll a piece of perfect white paper and instantly be able to type, browse the internet, read a book and watch a movie. When you’re done just roll up the piece of paper and put in back in your pocket or bag; it won’t break or crease and will be ready for you to use again at a moment’s notice.
This really does sound like science function, but we are perilously close to this becoming a reality. Thanks to advancements in thin, curved screens and low power technology, we may soon be able to create paper thin versions of tablets and e-readers. These devices will look like a sturdy piece of paper and will be roll-able and bendable; we’ll be able to lay them flat out and use them as touch screen devices.
#1 – Graphene
This is the newly discovered wonder material that is set to change the world, probably more than anything else on this list. Discovered in 2004 by scientists at the University of Manchester Graphene is a material that is only a single atom thick, yet it’s capable of performing wondrous feats. When the discovery of the material was first published in the scientific journal Science one astonished scientist said “It’s as if science fiction has become reality.”
Graphene is stronger than diamond, stretchier than rubber and better at conducting electricity than any metal. The number of potential uses is equally as impressive: bendable screens, earthquake proof buildings, fighting disease, artificial eyes, the list goes on. Over 8000 patents have already been registered for the use of graphene and corporations and universities are spending millions to be the first to start the graphene revolution.