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article image10 astonishing technologies on the horizon

By Leigh Goessl     Dec 10, 2014 in Technology
As we all know, technology is developing at an incredible rate. As 2015 arrives, some developments are expected, others might be a bit more surprising.
Anyone who grew up in the 20th century is probably amazed at the technological transformation that has occurred over the last few decades. With that statement, I'm talking an era where video games were non-existent, color TV was still a pretty new invention and if you wanted to cook something fast, there was no such thing as a microwave. You had to use your stove and wait or throw together a cold sandwich. These innovations were pretty big deals when they did arrive.
Those born in the late 20th and in the 21st century probably are used to rapid development, so some of these future technologies may not seem as far-fetched, however, others are likely to still be surprising.
Here are 10 top astonishing technologies that are in the works:
1. Flexible and bendable smartphones
In the 1980s and early 1990s, cellphones were big clunky things. Fast forward to today, they are much smaller, sleeker and smarter. However, as smartphones continue to serve as computers, they have begun to grow larger again, which is an inconvenience. Because convenience is the name of the game in technology, there will likely be more transformation in how compact a phone can be.
In the next few years, it is likely smartphones will become bendable. In 2013 it was reported LG developed the first flexible smartphone with limited consumer distribution in Korea. In 2014 Samsung has followed with its own model but kicked it up a notch by making it truly bendable. Rumor has it when this product is released, the gadget will be able to fully bend in half. Expect this tech to likely reach the consumer market sometime in 2015.
2. Smart jewelry
While perhaps not truly mind-blowing, wearable technologies continue to make tech headlines, meaning all sorts of possibilities are in the making. While companies are still trying, to some extent, to get consumers to buy into these products, over time they'll likely become the norm. Smartwatches were expected to be the next best thing in recent years, and while slow to catch on, there is a market for them, perhaps when Apple releases its version.
In 2013 and 2014, many other new ideas were launched by various companies and it is probably only a matter of time before you can get alerts or check email and social media through a ring or bracelet. Which leads into #3.
3. "Invisible" computers
Futurist George Dvorsky writes an article in io9 that talks about "invisible computers" in the making. Dvorsky notes computers are already pretty much everywhere, from cars to home appliances and everything in between. While they are everywhere, they are visible, we see them. Not so much in the future. Future devices will become so integrated we won't even know we're using them or are in the presence of someone else who is.
"These computers will be in our clothes, our fashion accessories, and even in our contact lenses. And to use them we’ll use natural language and haptic technologies (i.e. tactile feedback)," Dvorsky writes, adding, "Or better yet, these devices will be endowed with a certain level of “ambient intelligence” to help them perform autonomously under specific conditions. So by the 2030s we’ll be completely surrounded by computers, but utterly unaware of their presence."
4. Virtual shopping
People either love it or hate it, but either way shopping is a chore that must be done. Over the years ecommerce has changed how shopping is done and is now the norm, but technology is about to kick it up a notch. In Korea, the world's first virtual shopping center has opened. Stores are not stocking the products. People enter the store and order items by touching screens or scanning QR codes. You don't even have to stand in line to pay. Just make payment via your smartphone and designate when and where you want your purchases to be delivered. It's easy to see this one potentially taking off in 2015.
5. Teleportation
In the future, who will need planes, trains or automobiles? According to a June 2014 Washington Post report, researchers are working on teleportation. To date, they've successfully transported information 10 feet and say there is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents humans from transporting other humans. This one is likely a ways off, but will human teleportation be truly possible in the upcoming decades? If it does happen, this would really change the dynamics of telecommuting or just plain old commuting to work. While the future is unwritten where this tech is concerned, one thing is for sure, scientists will be working on it during 2015.
6. Interplanetary Internet
Exploring space has, for centuries, been the dreams of many. For some in the 20th and 21st centuries, this became a reality when humans reached the moon. However, this is far from the norm and humans have yet to successfully land on other planets. It isn't too far off though as reaching Mars comes closer and closer to the horizon. When humans do make it to Mars and/or other planets, before they successfully set up house, will an Internet connection be established first? Dvorsky says yes.
6. Flying cars
Another technology that perhaps isn't as mind-blowing as some others, but it is already on the cusp of the consumer market. The concept of a flying car has been steadily pursued for a few years now with reports indicating these innovations would reach the market by 2015. Terrafugia is getting pretty close with its Transition model, and CNN reported last month the "race is on" for flying cars as other companies jump into the mix.
8. Grow human organs
Organ transplants have long been possible, but there is always a shortage and long waiting lists. Not to mention the chance of a patient's body rejecting the donated organ. Technology of the future will likely address and/or eliminate this need as scientists develop the ability to grow organs in laboratories. The Associated Press reported in April (via Fox News) this development is going beyond the experimental phase. In August 2014, BBC reported scientists at the University of Edinburgh grew a new organ from "scratch" inside of a mouse by transplanting cells into mice.
9. Prosthetic eyes
Science is getting closer and closer to providing solutions for vision problems. According to Sci-Tech Today, artificial retinas are in development which would allow vision to be brought back in people through restoration of interrupted electrical signals caused by macular degeneration. Developed by an Israeli research team, the scientists are using light-sensitive, wireless, nanorod-nanotubes to create prosthetic eyes.
10. Electronic tattoos
This technology appears to be closer than you'd think — within the next five years, according to technology writer Mike Elgan. With bendable phones on the way, it seems electronic tattoos take this general concept and kicks it up a notch.
"The concept behind electronic tattoos is simple. The idea is to create an electronic device, usually involving sensors, that is thinner than a sheet of paper and as flexible as a Band-Aid that can stick to the skin," notes Elgan in a recent ComputerWorld article.
These will contain Wi-Fi ability and seem to be geared towards monitoring body functioning and revolutionize healthcare. Although other potential uses could be lie detectors and monitoring athletic performances, to name two. With this one it's not hard to imagine what other uses it could have — good or otherwise.
In the upcoming years there are some pretty incredible gadgets and capabilities in progress. There is no doubt we'll be living in an ultra-tech society in decades to come. The bigger question perhaps is whether or not this will improve life or have unintended adverse effects. Some innovations will probably add great value to society, while others not so much.
What do you think? What kinds of things would you like to see?
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