The 20th century produced unprecedented technological advancements, such as aircraft, the internet, and the smart phone. Now, the 21st century is poised to provide equally revolutionary technologies that will transform our homes, businesses and public spaces in ways we can’t yet imagine. Here are five new world-transforming technologies.
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3D printing has grabbed headlines because of its potential to print guns illegally. But this is a narrow view of a groundbreaking technology. The printers have become much cheaper, with some models costing 10% of their 1990s price. There is potential that in the future consumers will simply purchase a design rather than ordering a product, and then print it in the home. This would revolutionize retail. It would make consumerism even more instantly gratifying, and shake up the job market.
Small smart sensors
Small smart sensors are a form of nanotechnology which can be wearable. There are already many applications including health monitors and the parking sensors in many cars. Research suggests that by 2017 over 500 million will be sold per year. The sensors could soon make the ‘Tomorrows World’ concept of a computerized home a reality.
Credit cards capable of contactless payments using radio technology were first introduced in 2008. There are already 56 million contactless cards in circulation in the UK in a variety of forms. However, contactless payments are not limited to cards. Mobile phones using Near Field Communication (NFC) have been making contactless payments since 2011. The system makes transactions quicker, as users simply wave their card or phone over a compatible device. In the future, the technology will spread to watches and wristbands, and the need for paper money could be removed altogether.
Since the structure of human DNA was mapped in 1953, it has provided a method for understanding disease. The cost of mapping DNA has plummeted in a decade from millions of pounds per application to just thousands. Once devices in the home can map DNA, people will be able to identify whether they have the genes involved in the development of diseases such as cancer. If they do, their DNA could be modified. Developments in genetic mapping could be a great force for good, although analyzing our own DNA may raise ethical questions if treatments are costly.
Wireless power transfer
This technology could completely change the world by removing the need for wires to provide electricity. Wireless power transfer involves the transfer of electricity via electromagnetic fields, or radiation waves. The technology has the potential to replace wired phones, laptops and tablet chargers. Mobile phones capable of charging wirelessly have been under development since 2009 but remain prototypes. Soon, firms aim to make wireless charging the norm. Charging is not wireless power transfer’s only use though; scientists predict that solar power satellites and drone aircraft could soon use it.