It can be hard to keep up with the speed of technological innovations. It seems like in every industry there’s a new device or technology being heralded as game-changers. We’ve rounded up some of the most interesting futuristic technology breakthroughs below. From 3D printing to self-driving cars – it’s becoming more and more clear that the future is already here.
1. Self-driving cars
Self-driving cars are closer than you think. While you might not be able to hail a self-driving car just yet, Google is fully committed to their WayMo project. Right now, Waymo cars are only being tested by Google in Phoenix. However, you might see Waymo in other cities very soon. Waymo’s self-driving technology has driven more than 10 million miles and has been tested in over 25 cities on city streets, snow, rain, and extreme weather conditions. The Waymo One app is the commercial side that allows users to hail an automated car in the Metro Phoenix area. It’s basically the Uber of self-driving cars. They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Before you get excited and start searching Google for “self-driving car dealerships near me”, it’ll be a while until you see self-driving vehicles in your local car lot. There are still legal and ethical questions being answered about the automated technology. For example, who is at fault in a self-driving car crash? What happens if a cop pulls over a self-driving car?
2. Laser messaging
Texting is a huge messaging technology that’s popular around the globe. In the US alone, there are about 277 million texters. At least 97% of mobile smart devices text on a regular basis. Around 26 billion text messages are sent in the US every sing day. That adds up to about 9.4 trillion messages per year.
MIT researchers recently came up with a way to get audible messages to a person using a laser safe for human eyes and skin. While it may not seem like a practical technology, it’s actually incredibly useful for life-or-death situations where other forms of communication are disabled. This technology would allow someone to remotely shine a laser directly into someone’s ear to deliver information.
What if you never had to go in for a doctor appointment every again? Telemedicine probably won’t eliminate the need for all in-person doctor visits but it will help reduce the amount. Telehealth is still controversial compared to traditional healthcare but it’s been a growing sector because of the rise of chronic conditions and aging populations.
Benefits of telemedicine:
- Saves on costs
- Enhances people’s access to care
- Improves quality of care
- Improves provider satisfaction
4. Virtual Reality
We already have instances of augmented reality otherwise known as AR in games like Pokemon Go. AR basically means that the visual information you receive is overlaid with pictures or data. VR, on the other hand, completely changes your surroundings and is more immersive.
One of virtual reality’s main uses is making PC gaming more exciting. Instead of controlling an avatar, you become an avatar. However, there are plenty of other uses for this unique technology.
- Recruitment and training: This is especially useful in industries that are particularly dangerous like firefighting. Instead of having a trainee firefighter thrown into a real-life scenario, he or she can practice life-saving practices and safety processes in a safe, virtual world.
- Work collaboration: If you have a remote workforce, VR technology makes it possible for workers to meet in the same virtual room without actually physically relocating.
- Visualizing data: Sure, charts and graphs are cool but what if you could actually walk around data to more deeply analyze it? That’s the promise with VR.
- Training medical students: Medical trainees can use VR to mimic delicate surgery practices before performing real-life surgeries.
- Meditation: Sometimes, you can’t simply run away from your problems to relieve your stress. That’s where VR comes in, you can use it to virtually escape your surrounding and go to a quiet beach or peaceful mountain top. Don’t have access to VR? Just use an app like Headspace: Meditation & Sleep.
- Managing an anxiety disorder: VR also shows promise for helping those dealing with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Technology is changing faster than we can anticipate but it’s clear that the future holds a lot of exciting revolutionary breakthroughs.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.