what the future holds we never can tell. But we do know what problems we face today and therefore can work on making sure future generations don’t have to struggle with the same hardships we did. To do so, scientists and engineers use the best of today’s technology to solve problems that may persist into tomorrow. These problems can range from blindness to tooth decay; as well as from better roller coasters to cleaner cars. The following 12 gadgets and technologies will have, we think, a massive affect on the way we live our lives in the near future.
1. Wing Roller Coasters
Welcome to the future of fun. Developed by Bollinger & Mabillard, Wing Coasters are a type of roller coaster that places the ride on the sides of the track, giving them the illusion that they’re riding on the wing of a plane. There’s nothing below or above them. There are currently four in the world (three in the U.S.), with a fifth one planned to open in China later this year.
We know: Having an airline lose your luggage is not the worst thing in the world, but it still sucks. GlobalTrac aggress. The company this year released its TrakDot luggage tracker, which allows you to use your phone or tablet or computer to see exactly where your bags are. All you do is slip the device into your luggage, and then fire up the app. Now if it could only figure out how to get your lost luggage back to you, that’d be great.
3. The Open Socket
Nearly 80% of the world’s 25 million or so amputees live in developing countries. For most of them buying a prosthetic limb is luxury they will never be able to afford. Bump, a non-profit start-up founded in 2010 by University of Illinois engineering students, hopes to change that with the Open Socket: an affordable prosthesis made from rigid plastics and flexible cloth that doesn’t need to be custom-made or fitted.
4. MakerBot Replicator 2
We’ve written quite a lot about 3D Printing and the affect it will have on the future of goods and manufacturing. No other product represents that better than MakerBot’s latest and greatest 3D printer, the Replicator 2. At $2,200, it’s one of the-if not the-most affordable 3D printer money can buy.
5. A Billboard That Produces Clean Water
In 2013, it seems advertising is needed about as much as clean water. So it’s refreshing to see one company work to combine the two. Located in Luma, Peru, and developed by The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC) and ad agency Mayo DraftFCB, the billboard is able to produce around 26 gallons of water a day using five filtration devices and Lima’s extremely humid air. The billboard is designed to not only provide water to Peru’s largest city-one in which 1.2 million residents don’t have running water, but to also encourage kids to apply to the UTEC and study engineering.
6. Clothing That Can Charge Your Gadgets
Fashion and technology have never quite gotten along. That may all change in the future as engineers take current tech and try to get clothing to work in concert with all the gadgets you carry with you. For example, Rafael Rozenkranz’s jogging suit (Seen above) may not be the most fashionable thing ever, but that futuristic-looking suit is able to convert your kinetic energy dispelled by running into electricity to power the built-in MP3 player. Imagine if your jacket was able to charge your phone. You would never have to ask another bartender if you could plug in your phone behind the bar.
7. Chaotic Moon Helmut
If you ride a bike in a major city like NYC, you know how dangerous your commute to and from work can be. The Chaotic Moon helmet won’t keep you any safer than a regular helmet, but it will come in handy if you’re hit by a car than then speeds off. The helmet is equipped with seven mini-cameras that record video at 30 frames per second at 720p. The effect is a 360-degree view of your surroundings as you ride and can capture your accident as it happens.
8. Bioprinting 3D Machines
We know that 3D printing technology can be used to do more than make odd plastic trinkets. Thanks to a group of bioengineers around the country, we now know that the technology can also be used to develop human tissue. Dubbed Bioprinting Machines, these devices can build patches of skin, blood vessels, and cartilage using living cells. Though years away from clinical use, one company, Organovo Inc., has already released a commercial 3D bioprinter that cost “several hundred thousand dollars each,” according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s not the hardware that’s holding the technology back, however, Hod Lipson of Cornell’s Creative Machine Lab, says, “We have machines that can make almost anything, but we don’t have the design tools/ In bioprinting, there is no computer-aided design software for body parts.”
9. Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System
Restoring sight to the blind is the the stuff of miracles and sci-fi movies. Until now. Develop by Second Sight, the Argus II is a device that works to restore vision to those suffering from complete or partial blindness. It does this by capturing images via a mini video camera in the glasses which is then transformed into instructions that are picked up by an implant placed on the wearer’s eye. Once received, the implant sends the instructions to an electrode array which then sends the visual information to the brain via the optic nerve.
10. Tooth Sensor
No one likes going to the dentist, even if it’s just for check-up. Scientists at Princeton and Tufts have been working a thin tooth sensor that may limit the amount of times you need to get your teeth checked. The sensor would alert you (and/or your dentist) when it detects any bacteria that could cause cavities, plaque buildup, or any other infections.
Dubbed “The Next Generation of Gesture Control,” the Myo is an armband full of motion and muscle sensors that is able to pickup on the “electrical activity in your muscles to wirelessly control” your electronics via Bluetooth. According to the company, the device will work with Windows and Mac OS, with iOS and Android support coming soon. We’re not futurists, but if we were to guess at how we will control our home in the future, it looks very similar to this.