Technology can be a great thing or a not-so-great thing. It all depends on how useful it is, and how much easier it can make life for us. Many tech gadgets that are highly appreciated by the media are often those that are problem-solvers. So if there is a gadget that can tackle deteriorating coral, we have it on our list. How about one that makes drinking water out of thin air? What about another one that can tackle chronic pain?
Gadgets that make our lives better and also help the environment hold utmost importance in science. But so do things that make us happier – like a better TV or a coffee machine that can churn out gourmet cups in a jiffy. Gone are the days when inventors were thought of as crazy men with too much time on their hands. Research and development has turned into a lucrative field, attracting the brightest of minds from all corners of the world. And these hard-working researchers collaborate on making the earth and its inhabitants happier and healthier. Here are 15 gadgets already available in 2018 that are solving some of the world's problems, and 10 upcoming ones that we are all waiting for. Some of these may seem more meaningful than others, but even something as simple as a better phone or TV does make human existence better.
24 The Source Pulls Water Out Of Thin Air
We live in a world where more than 600 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. Water is this century’s new oil considering we cannot do without it. For a solution, look towards Cody Friesen, the CEO of Zero Mass Water, who has developed “The Source.” Basically, these are hydro-panels that extract drinking water from thin air using hygroscopic materials that absorb the moisture present in the air. The water is filtered and ready to drink. It's like magic, only it's science!
23 Honda’s Robotics
Robotics is not a new science but it’s new in its continuous innovation. Honda just revealed its new line of robotics, a.k.a. the 3E, "Empower, Experience and Empathy." Honda's plan is that its robots and AI artificial intelligence should be able to help people in many ways. Recreation, search and rescue, and increased empathy learned from human behavior are the keystones of this new reveal. The 3E-C18 has cargo space for transportation, the 3E-B18 is a robotic chair, while the 3E-A18 is a social empathy model designed for companionship. As useful as they are, they are also incredibly cute!
22 In Progress: Bio-Printed Body Parts
Remember Mission Impossible and the bio-printer that turned out a perfectly formed human face? Well, it’s not fiction anymore. Researchers have managed to make bio-printers that drop individual cells in place the way your printer drops colored ink. In the near future, this technology could mean a new ray of hope for those waiting for years on organ transplant lists. Because then you don’t need a donor, you could just print yourself a new heart, or liver. Small-scale tissues have already been printed for research, in case you thought we were fibbing!
21 Lab-Engineered Animal Products
So this is definitely good news for PETA as well as all animal activists. If you love life but cannot seem to give up meat, then head to any menu that has Impossible Burger in it. Why? Because this “meat” is actually a lab-engineered faux hamburger. This means you feel the meat, taste the meat but harm no animals to get it. On the same heels is Zoa, which is a leather-like material made from fermented yeast by bio-fabrication company Modern Meadow – on display at the “Future of Fabric” exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.
20 In Progress: 5G Networks
4G was touted to be the network that would take a blink of an eye. But all over the world, including the domestic market, it’s hardly lightning fast. So now, wireless carriers are eyeing the 5G – which should be identified in 2018, coded in 2019 and be available by 2020. We are assuming it will be faster and less energy-intensive. Consequentially, it should lead to faster and smarter devices as well as longer-lasting wearables. This will further give a boost to the virtual reality and AI industry, which need impeccable speeds to work in real time.
19 The Movi Smartphone And Its Built-In Projector
Smartphone screens have gone bigger. Even so, there’s only so much of a big screen you can comfortably carry in your pocket or bag. And then again, sometimes you do want to watch a much-awaited movie or a TV special on a bigger screen. Projectors come in handy and this particular Android phone worth $600 can project 720p videos with ease for some at-home entertainment. It's the perfect phone for a movie buff to own, and you don’t need a TV.
18 In Progress: Virtual Reality Immersion
As much as we’d like to believe the Marvel Universe, virtual reality in the real world is several millennia away from achieving what Wakanda already has. But in a couple of years, VR immersion with very compelling 3D headsets at rather affordable prices should be the reality – especially if 5G becomes a reality as well. As of now, VR headsets are very expensive and can also trigger motion sickness in many. Furthermore, users have complained about a very "unreal" reality. But it’s a lucrative market and researchers are at it overtime to make it as real ASAP.
17 The Sage Oracle Touch
How much would you like to spend on your coffee machine? How about more than $2600? The Sage Oracle Touch is aptly named because with just one press, you get the perfect coffee you want without any work on your part. It’s fully automatic and so every brew you get is made from freshly pulverized coffee beans. You can also adjust the coarseness that you like. There is every kind of coffee imaginable on the menu, after which you can also adjust the foaming and the tamping with button presses. So you get that perfect brew to juicing up those brain cells and increase your metabolism as well.
16 In Progress: Real-Time Diagnostics For Better Health
We are underway to develop several biomedical gadgets. When worn by people, these gadgets can monitor health and aid in the prevention of diseases. By 2020, perhaps your biomedical watch will be able to keep a tab on things that are making you better or more sick and sound an alarm if something is wrong. Way back in 2014, Google was developing tiny magnetic particles that could enter the bloodstream and search for cancer markers. It may sound far out but it is a very close reality.
15 The Phillips SmartSleep Headband
This isn’t a gadget that will help you get more sleep, or cure your insomnia. What it will do is help you get the most out of the sleep that you do get. Apparently, the headband emits a tone that can improve slow wave sleep. The slow wave sleep is when the brain and the breathing slow down to their lowest. So basically, this sleep helps in the restoration and recovery of brain cells as well as memory. If this headband boosts slow wave activity, it will make your brain repair and restore itself that much faster. It's smart sleeping, for a smarter you.
14 In Progress: Self-Driving Cars
Don’t get too excited, because all industry experts unanimously agree that fully autonomous cars (like the 007 ones) may still take a decade. That said, more and more cars have plenty of autonomous features like parking assist – in which the car literally takes over the parking with the driver left to simply check the speed. In the next few years, cars will be made intelligent enough to follow safety rules, change lanes and even drive on otherwise dangerous or curvy roads. In fact, Google’s self-driving car, Waymo, will soon be testing on roads. In actuality, autonomous cars may not be too far off.
13 The Philips 9000 series 4K OLED TV
Why are we mentioning a TV in 2018’s most exciting tech gadgets? Because most of us have a TV and watch it, even if we don’t identify as couch potatoes. If we have to have something, why not go for the best? A little TV viewing helps us wind down after a long day at work and this razor-thin OLED is the perfect antidote to stress. The Ambilight technology it uses makes the screen appear larger than life. This tech also makes the viewing more “immersive” by subtly illuminating the surroundings and giving the room a lovely glow.
12 In Progress: Offline Artificial Intelligence
For the time being, when you talk to Siri, Cortana or say Hey Google, you are letting the artificial intelligence kick in. It then delves into the copious amounts of data available on the World Wide Web. It does all this to dig out your answer for you. Pretty soon, most of these intelligent assistants will be able to operate locally, minus any Internet connection. In fact, they will be trained to complete complex AI tasks and by doing so, protect your privacy as well as your device’s battery life.
11 The PowerDot
It may sound strange but you can literally shock your muscles to stimulate them for better growth, in tandem with the workouts you do. And for this, you need the PowerDot. It uses electric muscle stimulation (EMS) to jolt those muscle fibers into being better at their job, making you stronger and more toned in turn. You can connect this device to the Power Dot app on your phone to help you select the workouts and intensity level. Users have called the EMS a tad intense but so far have had positive views about it.
10 In Progress: Battery-Free Gadgets
Even the longest-lasting battery has to ultimately be plugged into an electrical outlet to be charged. Even if it’s just once a week or month. Apparently, that is old tech! Researchers at the University of Washington have been trying to commercialize a technique called backscattering. Backscattering selectively reflects incoming radio waves to make a new and stronger signal. This tech can result in battery-free gadgets, which will work and communicate via energy harvested from nearby devices.
9 JayBird Run
Personally, I get inspired when I see fit female actors in action movies. Especially when they do their morning run with relative ease, listening to their favorite beats. In real life, earphones and headphones can be annoying when you run. Enter Jaybird Run, what users call the perfect wireless “sport” headphones. They are comfortable, non-bulky and do not slip off when you raise the intensity of your workout. They also have excellent sound quality and can go as loud as is safe and recommended.
8 In Progress: Hydro-VENUS, Which Gets Energy From Tidal Waves
Shinji Hiejema is the associate professor of the Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science at Okayama University, Japan. He developed a great new prototype way back in 2010. The Hydro-VENUS (Hydrokinetic-Vortex Energy Utilization System) could potentially harvest the energy generated by tidal waves and power entire coastal towns and neighboring communities. With zero emissions, this could be the next big thing in clean and green energy, and also does not harm marine life at all. It also produces 75% more energy than the traditional propeller-based systems used in hydro-electric plants.
7 My Special Aflac Duck For Kids With Ailments
The world of smart robotic is ever-expanding, with many brands offering interactive edutainment options, while some exist for pure entertainment. My Very Special Aflac Duck is very different but very important as well. It's been developed by Sproutel, designed to provide comfort and companionship to children with illnesses. If you hold a token to the duck's chest, it will mirror the corresponding emotion – helping children to express their inner feelings. It’s being provided free and is undergoing testing at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
6 In Progress: Oral B Genius 9000S Toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes are good things. They help you brush just right and make your dentist happy about your teeth. However, your tooth doctor may get a tad sad about his bank balance – a healthy mouth means you may not need any more dental work! The Oral-B Genius 9000S is several steps ahead. It can connect to the Oral-B app on your phone to guide you to “intelligent brushing.” In case this much tech seems like too much for you, it will still warn you in case you are brushing too hard, too light, too fast, too slow, etc.
5 In Progress: L’Oreal’s UV Sense
Nope, it’s not actually nail art. It looks like one because L’Oreal worked with designer Yves Behar for the aesthetics of this project. The L’Oreal UV Sense is basically a nail-wearable tiny sensor that can detect ultraviolet exposure. It transmits the information to an app on your smartphone and can then help you manage your sun intake. So basically, it will help perfect down the right amount of sun exposure and SPF for you, depending on where you live and how indoor or outdoor a person you are. It also has a temperature sensor and an NFC antenna to communicate with the smartphone.
4 In Progress: Samsung’s Modular TV, The Wall
When you want more than just another smart TV, you should look towards Samsung’s latest offering called The Wall. According to Samsung, TV should not be just one constant size – you should be able to resize the TV according to your needs. And so they thought of a 146-inch TV that they are now branding as the world’s first modular TV. This particular TV can be used and positioned in multiple ways and in so, become a multipurpose display. You can choose to have a “smaller TV” and the surrounding screens will work to blend in with the walls. You can also go full size for an intense flick.
3 In Progress: Berlin’s Next-Gen Bike Lanes, Vision E3 Way
In 2018, Berlin’s road will look like something from a sci-fi flick. BMW, along with Shanghai’s Tongji University, is planning to construct the Vision E3 Way – a series of bike-accessible elevated tubes that connect to traffic hubs, shopping areas and underground stations. The internal environment will be controlled in a way that this hyperloop can be used by bikers all year round in comfort. Fresh air and solar-generated lighting will be part and parcel of this scheme. Plus, the entrance will be accessed by a ramp with barriers to control the amount of traffic in the tubes.
2 In Progress: Super Coral That Is Resistant To Warming
Our coral reefs are deteriorating, but that doesn’t mean the marine biologists and scientists are just sitting and twiddling their thumbs. They are actually working on breeding super coral that can withstand a warming world. These temperature-resistant coral are being used to repopulate and restore reefs. In a way, corals are being lab-trained to become resistant to temperature changes brought about by warming oceans and the storms that happen as a result. This means that there is hope for the world yet!
1 In Progress: Computational Surfaces
By 2020, LCDs would be antique and so might be LEDs that aren’t OLED. Apparently, industry experts believe that pretty soon most surfaces will be paper-thin, transparent OLEDs. Most, if not all, will have touch capability as well. And by surfaces, we don’t just mean your tech screens. Things will move beyond TV, mobiles, computers and even other electrical devices. Think walls, mirrors, windows – all connected to WiFi or 5G, and many with computational abilities. So the mirror on the wall may just be able to tell you “who’s the fairest of them all.”
References: mindbodygreen.com, techrepublic.com, forbes.com, time.com, thecheatsheet.com, inhabitat.com