We have been promised flying cars, teleporters and jet packs for years but none of them – as yet – have made it to the high street. However, futurologist Ian Pearson has a list of 10 hi-tech innovations that he claims will be surefire hits by 2030.
1. Dream linking
Using pillows with conducting fibres in the fabric, it will be possible to see monitor electrical activity from the brain. This will not only show when someone is dreaming, but recent developments indicate that we’ll also be able to tell what they are dreaming about. It is also possible (with prior agreement presumably, and when both people are in a dream state at the same time) for two people to share dreams. One could try to steer a friend’s dream in the same direction, so that they could effectively share a dream, and may even be able to interact in it.
2. Shared consciousness
Many people believe we will one day have full links between their brains and an external computer. We will be able to directly access more information outside the brain, making us much smarter, with thought access to most of human knowledge. The link will also allow us to share ideas directly with other people, effectively sharing their consciousness, memories, experiences. This will create a whole new level of intimacy, and let you explore other people’s creativity directly. This could certainly be one of the most fun bits of the future as long as we take suitable precautions.
3. Active contact lenses
These nifty gadgets will sit in your eyes like normal contact lenses. But they will have three tiny lasers and a micromirror to beam pictures directly onto the retina, creating images in as high resolution as your eye can see. This could make all other forms of display superfluous. There is no need to wear a wristwatch,have a mobile phone, tablet or TV but you could still have them visually. The contact lens can deliver a full 3D, totally immersive perfect resolution experience. They will even let you watch movies or read your messages without opening your eyes.
4. Immortality and body sharing
While computers get smarter, the brain-IT link will also get better, so you’ll use external IT more, until most of your mind is outside your brain. When your body dies, you’ll only lose the bits still based in the brain. Most of your mind will carry on. You’ll go to your funeral, buy an android body and carry on. Death won’t be a career problem. If you don’t want to use an android, maybe you’ll link into your friends’ bodies and share them, just as students hang out on friends’ sofas. Life really begins after death.
5. Smart yoghurt
A ‘quad core’ PC has for processors all sharing the same chip, instead of the single one there used to be. This will increase until computers have millions of processors. These might be suspended in gel to keep them cool and allow them to be wired together via light beams. In separate developments, bacteria are being genetically modified to let them make electronic components. Putting these together, smart yoghurt could be the basis of future computing. With potentially vastly superhuman intelligence, one day your best friend could be a yogurt.
6. Video tattoos
It will soon be possible to have electronic displays printed on thin plastic membranes, just like the ones you use for temporary tattoos that you put on your skin. With them you could turn your whole forearm into a computer display. Anyone with ordinary tattoos will wish they’d waited a while. You will also be able to get electronic makeup. You would just wipe it all over your face and then touch it to, and it will instantly become whatever you want. You will be able to change your appearance several times a day depending on your mood.
7. Augmented reality
You’ve seen films where the hero sees the world with computer generated graphics or data superimposed on their field of view. That technology area is developing very fast now and soon we will all be wearing a lightweight visor as we walk around. As well as all the stuff your phone does, it will allow you to place anything you want straight right in front of you. The streets can be full of cartoon characters, aliens or zombies. You can change how people look too, replacing them with your favourite models if you wish.
Polymer gel muscles will be five times stronger than natural ones, so you could buy clothing that gives you superhuman strength. They are too expensive to make today, but not in the future. Imagine free-running and leaping between buildings like a superhero, and having built-in reactive armour to make you bulletproof too, with extra super-senses also built in. A lot of that stuff is feasible, so exoskeletons might become very popular leisure and sports wear, as well as the obvious military and emergency service uses.
Artificial intelligence is likely to make computers that you can talk to just like humans in the near future. These can easily link wirelessly to robots. Robotics technology will use polymer gel muscles too, and a nice silicone covering could make them very human-like, so they can mix easily with humans as servants, colleagues, guards or companions, pretty much what they do in the movie I, Robot, but with a much nicer appearance and probably much smarter.
10. Active skin
Tiny tiny skin-cell sized electronic capsules blown into the skin would enable us to record nerve signals associated with any sensation. Then you could relive the experience days or years later. From a favourite ski run to the feel of everyday objects, you can replay the full sensory experience.