Technology is a fascinating field to follow. At any given point there are many exciting projects in development, and many of them become integrated into our everyday lives, for the purposes of convenience, entertainment and social change. Here are five of the most exciting pieces of technology currently in development, which we’ll hopefully see released in some form over the next few years.
The technology to print physical copies of digital information has been around for decades, but until recently it was limited to two dimensional images and text, presented on paper and similar materials.
As the software for creating three dimensional digital objects becomes more advanced, the technology for printing a full 3D, physical incarnation of those objects now exists.
3D printers create these items in layers, using various materials depending on the function of the object and the type of printer. Common materials include paper, plastic, plaster, metals, and even organic tissue and edible substances. The applications are quite exciting, and are already being exhibited around the world. Plastic figures, candies and other retail items could be produced en masse from a digital image. Functional organs could be printed and surgically implanted. Even construction on the scale of houses and buildings has been suggested.
Rumours are flying around regarding what may be featured in Microsoft’s next Xbox games console, and one of the most prominent and interesting is the Illumiroom.
During the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft and Samsung exhibited the device, which extends the borders of a user’s television by projecting images onto the walls around it.
The Kinect camera scans the environment, and the data collected allows the Illumiroom to accurately project an almost seamless extension of the screen, even across furniture.
Besides looking cool, further applications are still uncertain, and there’s no confirmation yet that the tech will appear as part of the next Xbox, or at all. It’s something to keep an eye on though, especially as Microsoft are expected to announce details of their new console in the coming months.
In the 1990s, “Virtual Reality” was predicted by some to be the next big technological leap for entertainment, particularly the increasingly-popular video game market. Unfortunately, the technology available at the time just wasn’t powerful enough to deliver the immersive experience that VR tried to offer.
After an additional fifteen years or so of progress, some believe VR may be due for a resurrection, and Oculus are leading the way with their Rift headset. The Oculus Rift connects wirelessly to a PC, and is strapped over the user’s eyes (reportedly comfortably) and presents a full 110-degree visual range, which shifts based on movements of the head.
The designers are avid gamers, and have already gained the support of some of the biggest games companies in the industry. Two of the most prominent engines, Unreal and Unity, are on board, and many of the big studios are jumping in too, including Valve, id Software, Scaleform and Epic Games.
Apple have pioneered several markets with the iPod, iPhone and iPad, and recent patent filings and the general rumour mill suggest they are looking to branch into “Smartwatches”.
The Apple iWatch is reportedly deep in development, and insiders expect an official announcement to be made sometime this year. According to various sources, the device is composed of a slap-band material, which coils around a user’s wrist when “slapped” on. The touchscreen will likely be curved – Apple has filed patents for and even begun using curved glass – and may even make up the entirety of the band itself.
The functions for an iWatch are what you might expect: a time display, weather, reminders, maps, text messages and email, etc. But insiders claim the device will be most useful as a remote input for other iProducts: change a playlist on your iPod or respond to an SMS on your iPhone without taking them out of your pocket.
Stylish sunglasses have long been a staple of science fiction portrayals of the future, but Google has topped the fiction with their factual Augmented Reality “smart-glasses”.
Google Glass takes the functions you’re used to in a smartphone or tablet, simplifies them and “projects” that information right in front of your eyes. You’ll see the time, the weather or the day’s reminders. Google Maps can lay out directions to your destination in front of you.
The voice recognition system lets you dictate messages to send to contacts, conduct a Google search, snap a photo, record a video, or broadcast your view via webcam. It’s all quite amazing, and the possibilities are exciting. Imagine you have a meeting and a reminder pops up to tell you about it. You tell your Glass to Google search the location of the building and it provide directions in real time as you walk there. Plus, it’s done all without hands and all in your peripheral vision.
About the Author: Michael Irving is a freelance writer and blogger who believes there’s no better time to be alive for tech gadget enthusiasts. He’s particularly excited about cloud computing for work, from companies like Macquarie Telecom.