According to the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian Magazine, the American public anticipates the coming half-century will see profound scientific change and inventions once thought to be the stuff of science fiction. That sci-fi reality is already entering the mainstream, with everything from death-proof cars to insect-sized robot spies. Here’s a look at some of the inspiring technology of the future that’s already made its way to consumers.
CNN reported on Volvo’s stunning promise that, by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo sedan or SUV. Those bold claims may seem impossible in a world where nearly 2.3 million people die in road crashes each year, and an additional 20 to 50 million are injured or disabled.
Volvo is working to combine adaptive cruise control, auto-lane keeping assist, collision avoidance and pedestrian detection to help keep drivers safe. What about unavoidable issues on the road like deer and animals passing by? Volvo also has that covered. Their large animal-detection feature can help sense when something is roaming in front of your car to anticipate and stop an impending crash.
Tires of the Future
Now that we can anticipate crash-free cars, or at least life-saving ones, let’s look at the car itself. Firestone released a concept agricultural tire made from up to 10 percent soybean oil. By 2050, Firestone will work to ensure use of 100 percent sustainable materials, all while keeping with its high-performance quality for which the company is known.
Meanwhile, Goodyear is looking at electrically-charged tires that can tap into the rebound and compression of its shock absorbers to capture energy. Wired reported on the BH-03 concept to look at how energy can be captured when it’s squeezed or pressed. That could be a game changer in the electrical car market to reduce dependence on charging our vehicles from a specially-designated outlet.
Augmented-Reality Contact Lenses
Start-up technology company Innovega unveiled its iOptik contact lens, which are embedded with miniscule optical elements that don’t interfere with your normal vision. Innovega’s technology helps its users perceive what they’re viewing the same way you would as a television screen. Unlike Google Glass, iOptik plans to offer lenses that fit your normal contact lens prescription needs, so you can both drive and read with them. When you’re ready for gaming and augmented reality, there’s no need to slip on virtual headgear, as those same iOptik contact lenses can be used to enjoy the world of augmented reality.
When you say you can “feel the music,” you’ll really mean it with the help of 3D printing and augmented reality. Reify allows you to enjoy music with more than just your sense of hearing. The company recently created a 3D “totem” for different songs and then encodes it with different visuals and music. Play your song through the Stylus mobile app and watch as your totem comes to life for an intense visual display that follows the beat of the music.
Insect Robot Spies
Remember when robots were bigger than humans in movies like RoboCop? Well, the robots of the future are said to be tiny and the size of a bumble bee. These bees are perfect companions for spies and can take on dangerous surveillance missions or simply remain undetected during a reconnaissance mission. Those tiny robot bees are sure to make their appearance in a spy flick, where the hero has no idea he’s about to have his life taken apart by a robot the size of an insect.