MARKETING MANAGER AT ACCENTURE – FOUNDER AT THE SPARKSIDE, EX FOUNDER AT THEQ CAMERA EX ADMAN, MILLENNIAL.
You surely have read about self-driving cars saving people's lives, virtual reality sex and artificial intelligence beating people at board games, that means the future is here! But there's so much more future to be discovered and some other innovations are not getting as much love at the moment. I presumed I would just list all the cool stuff that flew by my desk lately with funny gifs but, as it turns out, it's a much harder job than I though. Most of these new technologies have little, technical documentation and finding a funny gif for quantum computers is nearly impossible, I found out.
Without further ado let me introduce you to some possibly game-changing hot-science tech explained as if we were down at the local pub. Cheers!
Source: spring-loaded glitter bomb vs dad ( not smart dust but too funny not to post )
Hold your breath for this one, literally! Or you'll inhale sensors! As crazy as it sounds, sand grain sized sensors will be able to fluctuate in the air, just like dust. What will we do with those sensors? Everything from accurately measuring weather and climate to ingesting those things down our bodies for health monitoring and ultimately creating sci-fi cinnamon pranks with sensors! That sounds like fun! However, some people are also working on microscopic camera lenses – so that future iPhones can remove that ugly bump in the back maybe. Conspiracy theories on YouTube think that SmartDust is what “Chemtrails” are made of, and that evil governments, evil corporations and evil aliens are already watching us, fair enough! Some other interesting futuristic speculations suggest we could unknowingly getting sprinkled with smart-tag powder for Big Brother-like monitoring. Not so fun anymore.
AVAILABILITY: In many more years cause it's still a pain to create a tiny battery that lasts long ( Apple might be interested in this too )
So, 4D printing is a new interesting technology that – eeeeeew it moves! I can only imagine how someone must have yelled "it's alive!" while thunders roared in the background as they invented this thing. The 4th D obviously stands for the 4th dimension: no, not love, time! Movement happens in time and space so the material used for this technology is reactive to external conditions or stimuli and it's able to move, change shape and do other crazy stuff. Remember those grow monster toys? ( no? )better: Lightweight jackets that expand and become heavier when it's cold, furniture that builds itself ( screw you IKEA! ) or I don't know, creepy looking strip worms to impress readers like me. So move aside 3D printing! The printing industry has a new D and it's literally making a move.
AVAILABILITY: some of it is already happening but as per my futuristic ideas it will still take a while – 3D printing really wants the spotligh.
Blockchain is kind of hard to grasp if you're not into computer stuff, internet protocols and economics. To get this right I went through a few too many “blockchain for dummies” articles but I think I finally understood its underlying potential. This system is currently being used as currency of the Internet and while you're reading this article, thousand transaction are happening across the globe: You can go watch them in real time at blockchain.info. Concerned about your privacy? This is exactly the point; blockchain logic is that personal identities are still safe and encrypted but all interactions are public and their validity is controlled by many different users in a peer-to-peer fashion so that the system is 100% transparent. All transactions ( blocks ) are recorded into this public system as a sort of timeline ( chain ) where the middle man ( your bank! ) is removed while safety and transparency are enhanced. Imagine making a transaction to the wrong bank account today: it would take days and a lot of your time to find out where that money went and to get the bank to fix your problem. With blockchain, the transaction wouldn't even happen as a collective number of users would identify the mistake at its root. Hurray for digital democracy! Currency is only one of the applications, the real deal is disrupting bureaucracy, processes, industries with a system that is safe, transparent and democratic. Further on, the idea can be applied to the Internet of Things, where machines will be able to make transactions and contracts between themselves without control from humans and ensure complete trust and safety.
AVAILABILITY: It's on now! But to make it grow there are some challenges with governmental and cultural adoption and technology innovation. It's a new way to "internet" and I can't wait for BlockChain cats.
At some point we all considered buying a drone cause it sounded so cool but eventually backed out of the silly ideas when we realised all we could do was taking videos of our tiny selves from the sky. One guy in US few years ago actually managed to strap a gun to his drone and shoot some trees remotely. He also posted the video on YouTube and managed to get some jail time for that little shenanigans but that's the idea. Some companies are already creating integrated systems that can guard facilities, their drones can't shoot you cause it's illegal ( for now ) so I guess they would just blow their whistle like a true boy scout. But imagine the future; drone car chases, drone patrols in the hood and I'm so much looking forward to a new series of drone police academy. We all have the right to remain silent here.
AVAILABILITY: Drone police is now! Some states in the US have passed laws for armed drones with non lethal weapons, to make that pepper spray rain happen.
The material equivalent of Superman, Antman and Gandhi together. 10,000 times smaller than human hair, but stronger than steel nanotube technology is also a great conductor for electricity and heat. The new artificial material could be used for batteries small enough to create devices that go inside your body or float in the air ( smart dust anyone? ) bulletproof vests, remove pollution from water, fight cancer, shape shifting planes, printable electronics, 1mm thick displays, detect spoiled food and why not, help old people cross the road. Nanotube electronics are the good guys.
AVAILABILITY: In a long time, maybe ten years. As you can imagine a microscopic synthetic material is really hard to make; you probably need very small hands with even smaller tweezers.
Forget about Siri and talking to your phone, you can now talk with your hands to your phone – Italians will love this tech. Non Italians will also enjoy this technology for the ease of use and expansive applications. Gestures are far easier than fidgeting through buttons and interfaces cause they are already embedded in our ( sign ) language. From a technology standpoint the gesture controls will make devices more resilient cause you don't have mechanical parts that could fail or break. Furthermore a single control device could be upgraded, so that when your iMicrowave gets an upgrade for grilling lobsters you won't need a new knob, just a new lobster hand sign! Gestures can be applied to pretty much everything we use nowadays, volume wheels, doorknobs, tv buttons and obviously computers and screens. We all want to make Minority Report a reality but I have a feeling that air guitar will take the spotlight.
AVAILABILITY: Many companies are working on these things, some are already available but still feel unnecessary. Google is working on it and we'll see in the next few years if anything cool comes up.
Apparently not even quantum physicists understand quantum physics. That is actually great, cause I don't have to dig deep into understanding the use of quantum states of subatomic particles and I can focus on the daydreaming applications. Because of its disruptive scientific nature, quantum computers could perform calculation exponentially superior to the ones of our computers now – like, YouTube videos super fast? Well, more like calculating our existence and understanding the universe kind of fast. So yeah, not even the daydreaming part is easy here. Google and Nasa have one of these mega computers ( And you can too! for 15M $ ) but there are several speculations on whether it's really quantum or not, as again, apparently no one is sure when it's happening and if it's happening at all. To give you some context, it is the equivalent of trying to understand what computer programming would do if you lived in 1945, explained as “an automatic calculator that can do fast numbers”. Would you imagine the internet? digital currencies? PokemonGO? We're probably in the same situation, we know it's extremely powerful but the applications are somewhat harder to imagine. All you have to keep in mind is that whenever the smart people figure out quantum stuff it's going to be a big deal for everyone and everything.
AVAILABILITY: Both now and never at the same time – because, quantum!
Dig a little deeper ( and a little more seriously ) with these easy-read easy-watch resources:
Think with IBM – BlockChain
Quantum Computing with Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell
SmartDust Camera from Singularity Hub
4D Printing at TED conference with Skylar Tibbits
Nano manufacturing by the Museum of Science, Boston
Drone helps Modesto police find suspects from KCRA News
Gesture Control with Google Project Soli
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