· People will be fluent in every language.
With DARPA and Google racing to perfect instant translation, it won't be long until your cellphone speaks Swahili on your behalf.
· Software will predict traffic jams before they occur.
Using archived data, roadside sensors, and GPS, IBM has come up with a modeling program that anticipates bumper-to-bumper congestion a full hour before it begins. Better yet, the idea proved successful in early tests—even on the Jersey Turnpike.
· Climate-controlled jackets will protect soldiers from extreme heat and cold.
The secret to all-weather clothing, according to former MIT student Kranthi Vistakula, is Peltier plates
, which can be used to warm you up or cool you down by sending an electric current across the junction between two different metals. U.S. soldiers have put the lightweight tech to the test. So have soldiers in India. Based on early reviews, it won't be long until others enlist.
· Nanoparticles will make chemotherapy far more effective.
By delivering tiny doses of cisplatin and docetaxel right to cancerous cells, the mini messengers
will significantly reduce the pain and side effects of today's treatments.
· Electric cars will roam (some) highways.
Who says you can't road-trip in a Tesla
? In a few years, the 1350-mile stretch of Interstate 5 spanning Washington, Oregon, and California will be lined with fast-charging stations—each no more than 60 miles apart. In some areas you will find stations to the east and west too. Don't get any bright ideas, though. If you try to cross the country, you won't get much farther than Tucson.
· Athletes will employ robotic trainers.
Picture a rotor-propelled drone that tracks a pattern on your T-shirt with an onboard camera. Now imagine it flying in front of you at world-record pace. That's just the start—a simple concept developed by researchers in Australia.
· Bridges will repair themselves with self-healing concrete.
Invented by University of Michigan engineer Victor Li, the new composite is laced with microfibers that bend without breaking. Hairline fractures mend themselves within days when calcium ions in the mix react with rainwater and carbon dioxide to create a calcium carbonate patch.
· Digital "ants" will protect the U.S. power grid from cyber attacks.
Programmed to wander networks in search of threats, the high-tech sleuths in this software, developed by Wake Forest University security expert Errin Fulp, leave behind a digital trail modeled after the scent streams of their real-life cousins. When a digital ant designed to perform a task spots a problem, others rush to the location to do their own analysis. If operators see a swarm, they know there's trouble.
· Scrolls will replace tablets.
Researchers have already reproduced words and images on thin plastic digital displays. If they want those displays to compete with the iPad, they need to fine-tune the color and refine the screens so you can put your feet up and watch LeBron throw down on YouTube.
Your Car Will Be Truly Connected
· It will communicate with traffic lights to improve traffic flow.
· It will interact with other vehicles to prevent accidents.
· It will let you drag and drop a playlist from your home network.
· It will find the gas station with the deepest discount and handle the payment.
· It will notify you when someone dents your door and supply footage of the incident.
As we branch out as a species, it's quite reasonable to think that we'll send 3D printers to other planets to print habitats for humans prior to our arrival. — Dave Evans, Chief Technology Officer and Resident Futurist, Cisco Systems
· Your genome will be sequenced before you are born.
Researchers led by Jay Shendure of the University of Washington recently reconstructed the genome of a fetus using saliva from the father and a blood sample from the mother (which yielded free-floating DNA from the child). Blood from the umbilical cord later confirmed that the sequencing was 98 percent accurate. Once the price declines, this procedure will allow us to do noninvasive prenatal testing.
10 Things That Will Remain the Same
· Radiation sickness will be cured by injection.
Thanks to interest from the Department of Defense, several treatment options are now vying for FDA approval. In clinical trials, one of them, Ex-Rad, has not only prevented long-term cell damage but also promoted bone marrow recovery.
· That car part you need will be sculpted inside a 3D printer.
Dentists are already using this modern tech wonder to transform laser scans of your mouth into custom-fit appliances for your teeth. But that's a fraction of what the machine can do. When a 3D printer costs the same as, say, an HDTV, you will use one of your own to download all sorts of useful things, marveling as it creates each item layer by layer from plastic, rubber, titanium—you name it. Just imagine your future self printing a birthday cake, a Rolex, or a catalytic converter for the car. In time you'll even be able to download prescription medicine.
· Drugs will be tested on "organ chips" that mimic the human body.
Now undergoing trials in 15 research institutions, the new silicon chips feature channels that house living kidney or lung cells, above. Simulated blood and oxygen flow allows them to mirror the actions of real organs, reducing the need for animal testing and speeding up drug development—in the midst of a pandemic, that would be crucial.
· Passwords will be obsolete.
IBM says it will happen in five years. Who are we to disagree? Apple and Google are designing face-recognition software for cellphones. DARPA is researching the dynamics of keystrokes. Others are looking into retinal scans, voiceprints, and heartbeats. The big question, it seems, is what will you do with all that time you used to spend dreaming up new ways to say JZRulz24/7!
· Car tires will be brewed by bacteria.
Isoprene—a key ingredient in rubber—is produced naturally by many plants but not at great enough volume to keep pace with the world's demand for tires. It can also be extracted from oil. But biotech firm Genencor has engineered E. coli
microbes that produce gobs of the stuff as a by-product of metabolizing plant sugars. Goodyear, a partner in the study, is already testing prototypes of these bio-isoprene tires.
· Self-cleaning buildings will help us fight smog.
When sunlight strikes their aluminum skin, a titanium dioxide coating releases free radicals, which break down the grime and convert toxic nitrogen oxide molecules in the air into a harmless nitrate. Everything washes away in the rain.
· Your clothes will clean themselves too.
Engineers in China have developed a titanium dioxide coating that helps cotton shed stains and eliminate odor-producing bacteria. To revive your lucky shirt after a night of poker, you need only step into the sun.
· Drones will protect endangered species.
Guarding at-risk animals from poachers with foot patrols is expensive and dangerous. This summer rangers in Nepal's Chitwan National Park previewed a savvy solution: Hand-launched drones armed with cameras and GPS provided aerial surveillance of threatened Indian rhinos.
· Data will be measured in zettabytes.
According to the International Data Corporation, the volume of digital content created on the planet in 2010 exceeded a zettabyte for the first time in history. By the end of this year, the annual figure will have reached 2.7 zettabytes. What exactly does a zettabyte look like? Well, if each byte were a grain of sand, the sum total would allow you to build 400 Hoover Dams.
· Rescuers will use electronic noses to locate disaster victims.
Some devices will use an array of sensors to rapidly detect carbon dioxide, ammonia, and acetone released into the rubble via breath, sweat, and skin. Others sniff out chemical compounds from human remains buried 3 feet underground. All keep working long after the dogs have retired to their kennels.
· Genetic testing will be used to halt epidemics.
A year ago, investigators at the National Human Genome Research Institute teamed with doctors in Maryland to track the outbreak of a deadly bacterial infection. The big breakthrough? Real-time genome sequencing, which helped them identify minute mutations in the microbe, determine how it spread, and quickly stop it.
· Vaccines will wipe out drug addiction.
The human immune system is supremely adept at detecting and neutralizing foreign substances. Why not train it to target illicit ones? That's the idea behind addiction vaccines: Persuade the body to produce antibodies that shut down drug molecules before they get to the brain. The concept works in mice. Human trials are under way.
· Smart homes will itemize electric, water, and gas bills by fixture and appliance.
Shwetak Patel, a 30-year-old MacArthur Fellow, is working on low-cost sensors that monitor electrical variations in power lines to detect each appliance's signature. He has already used pressure changes to do the same for gas lines and water pipes. It's up to you to pinpoint where the savings lie.
· Vegetarians and carnivores will dine together on synthetic meats.
We're not talking about tofu. We're talking about nutritious, low-cost substitutes that look and taste just like the real thing. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has already invested in Beyond Meat, which makes plant-based chicken strips so convincing they almost fooled New York Times
food writer Mark Bittman.