2013 ushered in a large number of tech moments that gave us a glimpse of the future. From private projects, advanced robotics, artificial intelligence servants, deadly drones, augmented reality, prying sensors, private sector space travel, it also revealed in an era of disgrace and near-death for privacy. While the past year revealed a whole new way of improving our lives it was also instrumental in exceeding our boundaries of our readiness while elongating our visual ideas to its breaking point. Here is a list of the 5 biggest trends and technologies that are likely to take shape this year and in the days to come.
1. Self-driving robotic cars
As far as 1965, the concept of a self-driving vehicle was first proposed by General Motors. In all these decades, in spite of various technological advancements in the field of automobiles, we did not hold much awe of cruise control and automatic transmission has we expected it would be. However, last year automobile technology took one leap into the future with the launch of Nissan’s Infiniti G 37, which is considered to be a commercial vehicle offering drive-by-steering. By getting rid of the mechanical link between the wheels and the steering wheel, Nissan has introduced a concept known as steer-by-wire that introduces computing elements, electronics and motors in place of a mechanical connection. Not one to be left behind, Mercedes also introduced its S-Class which hosts innumerable consumer electronics in its moving vehicle. In addition, it sports a camera amplified suspension mechanism to take care of on-road bumps, a night vision camera for drivers to spot nocturnal movement, and a 360° range camera, radar and sonar, all bundled within the automobile’s stability, throttle and steering controls.
2. Drones and more drones
Springing from the frenzied ingeniousness of brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla, unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones as they are popularly known, today, have become a stark reality. Having gained worldwide attention for its weapon packing and dropping ability, the development of drones today have zoomed new heights. These days, scientists are taking inspiration from the natural world to introduce flight dynamics into developing drones that are as small as the size of a bird or a flying insect. Currently, US sheriffs are testing drones to patrol the border for illegal crossings, lost people, and to search for criminals.
3. Robotics and artificial intelligence
There has been great development in the field of robotics in various areas across industries. Last year saw the introduction of the Boston Dynamics Wildcat Robot — inspired by a cheetah as its movements mimic that of the wildcat. Designed to run on all kinds of trains, the four legged robot by Boston Dynamics seeks to help humans in various aspects of movement including firefighting, disaster rescue, emergency recovery, and various other military operations. Immense work is underway to connect us to our gadgets in a more intimate manner by bringing out wearable monitors and screens that can check our e-mails or predict our needs without physically having to do so.
4. Jetting off to space for a vacation
Private sector space enterprises are successfully completing specific docking and testing processes with the International Space Station, with the intent of providing low orbit space travel for private individuals. Space X and Orbital Sciences Corp are two such contenders that are rushing to fill the space of providing space travel for exclusive flyers. Not one to be left behind, Virgin Galactic introduced their first commercial spacecraft to pass Mach One, thus bringing the dream of taking passengers to the edge of space and back, closer to reality.
5. 3-D Printing for everything
When it first made its debut in 1984, 3-D printing was the rage everywhere. But shortly afterwards, the fad went bust and was lying dormant for almost 30 years till it caught the fancy of a few interested geeks. The 3-D printing industry today is a whopping $ 3 billion industry that has advanced over the years in terms of technological development. Currently, 3-D bio printers are able to print human tissue and organic food, while plans are afoot to introduce 3-D printed ammunition. Not just tiny knickknacks but a wide variety of things are being 3-D printed today ranging from basic robotic figurines, action figures and self-portrait figures, musical equipment, functional cameras, toys, phone cases etc. and much more. As printable 3-D technology becomes increasingly common, the day is not far when we will soon be printing our own phones, consumer gadgets, or computers.