The future is a fascinating place. With science and technology evolving at such a rapid rate, there’s no telling what the future could hold, but we may have some clues based on these "inventions of tomorrow" that are being fine-tuned right now. It’s safe to assume that the world we live in won’t be the same ten years from now. Will we have flying cars? Will we finally have a real hoverboard? Will we have earpieces that allow us to understand animals?
It’s hard to say, but checking out these 10 incredibly interesting inventions and scientific breakthroughs below is likely to give you a clearer idea of what may be added to our world in the near future. From sending mini-ships into space to freezing people in cryogenic chambers, it’s safe to assume that we’re in for a road full of surprises as we slowly move away from the era of iPads and social media tools and into a vastly more complex reality.
10 Immortality via Cryogenic Sleep
Let’s start this list off with something extremely fascinating, but also a little morbid. The science of cryogenic sleep has been a staple in the sci-fi genre for a long time. From popular shows like Futurama to major blockbusters such as Alien and most recently the Captain America series, movies have implemented the concept of being frozen in time as a standard trope to explain a character’s ability to not age while months, years, and even centuries pass them by. But "cryo sleep" isn’t make-believe anymore. In fact, a company by the name of Alcor in Scottsdale, Arizona has signed 147 patients (so far) to its cryogenics program.
Simply put, for $200,000, a person’s body will be cooled to near freezing temperatures just minutes after they have died to preserve vital organs, and especially the brain. They will then be stored in Alcor’s facility for as long as it takes, until science can revive them again… maybe thousands of years into the future. Whether or not Alcor can come through on their promise is a question left for the future (literally), but the fact that cryogenics are being considered a viable method to defeat death is a massive step towards shaping our future. The instant the method works, dying itself will no longer be an issue for the human race.
9 Sound vs Fire
Forest fires have been a major problem for many countries that experience alarmingly hot climates, and the issue is only getting worse with the effects of global warming. Authorities have tried numerous ways to douse a forest fire before it destroys too much, but by the time the fire is put out, hundreds of animals have perished, portions of dense forest have been lost, and for countries like those in Southeast Asia, the smog creates a continental haze that turns into a major health hazard. Recently, two undergrads at George Mason University invented a handy fire extinguisher that used bursts of low frequency sound to put out a flame. Viet Tran and Seth Robertson, the inventors of the Sound-Blasting Fire Extinguisher, have done what many have been trying to do for years; prove that sound is a viable way to fight fire.
While the invention is only good for small fires at the moment, it’s a major step towards inventing something bigger and far more effective than what’s regularly used at the moment to stop fires from spreading. If this takes off, the future could see the use of low frequency sound in a more efficient fight against forest fires.
8 Nano Space Travel
Ever since we learned of the stars, man has been bent on visiting the farthest reaches of the universe within this lifetime. Unfortunately, although we’ve come so far in terms of space travel, we haven’t been able to find other signs of life let alone a habitable planet like ours. And unless they can engineer a wormhole, scientists and smart people the world over are going to have to come up with more creative ways to venture further into space. Cue Mark Zuckerberg and Stephen Hawking; one’s unfathomably rich which the other is arguably the most intelligent man alive today.
The two have started working together on a “nano space travel” concept called The Starshot Project. Along with backers such as Yuri Milner, Hawking and Zuckerberg plan to engineer tiny spacecrafts that can travel to distances in space within a fraction of the time it would take conventional size shuttles. Essentially, it reduces the time to travel 25 trillion miles from 30,000 years to just 20. If this is a success, we could see the start of an all-new method of space exploration within this lifetime.
7 Virtual Reality
What used to be the stuff of science fantasy thanks to shows like Johnny Quest and Spy Kids is now a (virtually) real thing thanks to inventions like the Oculus Rift. While others have come close to emulating a virtual environment before, the Oculus is the first piece of gear to actually trick the brain into believing it’s in a different place altogether.
Content for the Oculus may be scarce at the moment, but with the adult industry already well settled-in and a ton of games soon to follow, there’s no reason why the Oculus wouldn’t be the device to usher in a new era of video-gaming in the near future. Of course, it won’t stop there. As CGI improves and virtual reality becomes more like the real thing, there’s no reason why a chunk of the population won’t find themselves hooked onto their virtual reality gear, living lives they can only dream of in the real world. It’s a frightening thought, but one that isn’t too far-fetched at all.
6 Anti-collision Technology
Automobile companies have been trying to figure out proper anti-collision technology ever since cars became a household item. With the rising number of drivers comes an increasing number of road accidents, further demanding the need for such a safety mechanism.
At CES 2015, BMW unveiled their new 360-degree anti-collision system for its i3 line of vehicles, and it seems to be working great so far across all tests. It basically renders the car “un-crashable” by detecting and tracking objects all around it, immediately slamming the brakes and shutting the vehicle down in the case of a potential accident. The growing popularity of a system like this will propel it into the mainstream market, and once all cars are fitted with proper safety equipment like this, road accidents will exponentially decrease within the next couple of decades. How’s that for good news?
5 Rapid Healing and Peak Health
With the exception of Superman, you can’t deny that Wolverine has the coolest superpower of them all. The man ages at an unnoticeable rate and can heal from almost any wound. He’s also immune to sickness. In the real world, scientists have been trying to crack the code to the full potential of our bodies in order for us to heal as rapidly as the feral Wolverine.
Sponsored by DARPA, a micro implant whose function is modeled off the body’s own peripheral nervous system called ElectRx is being tested to do just that. Injected intravenously, the implant tracks vital organs for red flags and then triggers the body to immediately administer a fix at an increased response rate. Now, it’s highly unlikely that this will be the breakthrough we’re looking for, but the ElectRx is proof that we’re getting closer to tapping into the body’s shockingly powerful reserves. This could turn the medical industry on its head in the future, allowing people to put sickness behind them and have an infinitely better quality of life.
4 Artificial Sensory Limbs
Artificial limbs greatly help those who have suffered the loss of their own. The biggest setback in artificial limbs so far is the lack of feeling or the inability to feel what the person is holding. However, Case Western Reserve University has recently unveiled a prototype limb that seemingly allows amputees to touch, feel, and sense texture on objects.
It’s a massive step towards creating full-blown sensory limbs in the future, something that will greatly assist amputees in regaining the quality their lives. While it’ll arguably take a longer time to engineer skin and flesh to mimic that of a human hand, the ability to trick the brain into thinking the limb is real seems like a huge step forward for the time being.
3 Human Head Transplantation
Ready to get weird? Sergio Canavero, an Italian neurosurgeon, has been experimenting with head transplantation for years and intends to perform the first successful human head replacement within the next few years. This may sound extremely gruesome to some, but the reality is a successful head transplant could give people suffering paralysis a shot at a full life again.
The surgery is basically for victims of irreparable spinal injury. It’s a controversial proposition, but one that Sergio is willing to bet on. There’s also the question of the patient coping with the new body, which will inevitably put immense pressure on the brain as it tries to rewire itself to the new anatomy. If the procedure is a success, we could see head transplants become the norm in hospitals within a few decades, much like heart or kidney transplants.
2 Wireless Electricity
When we think of wireless electricity, the first thing that comes to mind is charging our phones without having to connect it to the charger anymore. No more clunky wires, and no more hassle of forgetting to take your charger along! But wireless electricity is far more than that. Being able to conduct electricity through the air will end the era of cables and long landlines, and will change the way electricity is delivered to homes all over the world.
But since we’re on the topic of phones… a wireless charger was tested at CES 2015 recently and although not perfect, the prototype seems to be functioning quite well. The Energous WattUp Power Router can charge up to 12 gadgets wirelessly (as long as they require less than 10W of input) over the air within a 15-feet radius, all at the same time. Yay!
1 Conscious Computers
Remember the movie Her, in which Jaoquin Phoenix has a relationship with his operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson? I’m willing to bet that a program as complex as the OS in Her will arrive sometime in the near future.
We’re on the verge of a technological breakthrough when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. Scientists use the thought process of computers to solve cases that would have taken them years otherwise. With “assistants” like Siri and Cortana already pre-installed on our daily devices, there’s no reason why a more savvy piece of technology won’t be discovered soon. The ability to create Artificial Intelligence will lead us to creating actual, thinking intelligence. And then the question remains… will it be conscious? I'm afraid that’s something only the future can answer.