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New hobbies and industries we’ll owe to the Internet of Things

Most of the think-pieces we read on cutting edge technology like 3D-printing and the Internet of Things focus on what all of this means for medical tech, what it means for the economy and how it will affect things like supercomputing and space travel. That’s all well and good, but let’s not forget that new tech brings new toys, as well. Here are some of the most exciting new hobbies and industries we can expect to emerge thanks to the IoT:

Live Action Video Gaming

The Internet’s abuzz about Project HoloLens right now, an augmented reality headset that lets you interact with virtual worlds without leaving your own. The demo videos have shown people using the goggles to play Minecraft, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking about a game of laser tag with visible lasers, miniature golfing without the need to look for a course in your area (or even find a golf club), and morning runs where you can race against a virtual Usain Bolt to see how your best half-mile matches up. We’re still just talking about video games right now. If we wanted to get into holographic art projects, home design, urban exploration and various social activities made possible by IoT-enabled AR headsets, we’d need about fifty more pages just to scratch the surface.

A New Meaning to the Word “Staycation”

Those prosthetics that feed a sense of touch back to the user? The bad news is they require surgery to work. The good news is that they do exist, and there’s no reason an amputee can’t feel the sand under his toes from the comfort of a landlocked state. Even if we remove the sense of touch from the equation, VR headsets combined with robotics would allow you to take a tour of a Hawaiian beach, a Mayan pyramid or snowy Antarctica without leaving your desk at work. That’s something that is technologically possible right now, as Mitsubishi proved a few years ago when they allowed people to test drive their 2010 models on live courses from remote PC’s, and as is proven by the rise in consumer grade drones. What’s to stop a tourism company from doing the same with jetskis, go-karts and bumper boats?

Self-Repairing Electronics

Your coffee machine breaks down. It’s just a water hose that cracked, and you could order a spare part from the manufacturer and take the whole thing apart and spend an afternoon fixing it, but it might be easier to just buy a new coffee maker the next time you go grocery shopping. Unless, that is, your coffee maker is equipped with 3D printing capabilities and can self-diagnose and fix these problems automatically. This isn’t quite feasible with current consumer grade 3D-printing tech, but as these devices get more advanced, we may see cars, kitchen appliances, HDTV’s and smartphones with some basic self-repairing functions built right in, or enabled when plugged into a repair dock.

In the early days of the modern computer, there were futurists like Isaac Asimov who foresaw a future made easier, a future made more fun, by advanced technology, but even the most ambitious visionaries typically predicted a society that was augmented by personal computers and smartphones. Few were willing to envision a future that was completely transformed, even as Asimov predicted the smartphone and high speed Internet as early as 1970. As tremendous a shift as that technology brought, the IoT, combined with 3D printing and the ever-increasing reach of high speed wireless Internet, promise not only tremendous leaps in space travel and medicine, but a completely different everyday reality from the one to which we are currently accustomed.

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