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10 Pieces of Conceptual Technology That Could Radically Change Our Future
By Rut Andrada Baston,
Toptenz, 18 May 2015.

The following concepts point toward a future where the way we interact with the environment and each other is severely different from what we know now. Let’s dive into tomorrow, shall we?

10. Electrolux Memory


Electrolux Memory aims to revolutionize the way we enjoy coffee. The concept was created to understand, remember and prepare your favourite cup of coffee. This alien-looking device is equipped with a sensitive touch screen where you place your palm, input your choice of java, name yourself, and voila! You’re in the system. However you like it, this coffeemaker will do it. You can even put a cute picture of yourself next to your order to personalize it a bit.

Next time you just have to scan your hand and it will automatically prepare your drink exactly the way you want it. And you don’t have to worry if your guests have different tastes, because Memory can prepare different beverages one after another, with no challenge in changing course between a strong ristretto and a mild latte. It also supports multiple users, so you don’t have to fight your caffeine addicted spouse for who gets to use the electronic barista.

9. Napkin PC


The napkin is the birthplace of many ingenious ideas, but it has the unfortunate fate of always being lost, damaged or otherwise treated with disrespect. Industrial designer Avery Holleman decided to change this and created a concept meant to blend the humble nature of the napkin with a powerful computer.

The Napkin PC looks like a regular napkin holder, but carries special e-paper screens and electronic pens. These napkins require little to no energy to function and will be charged inductively when on stand-by in the holder. The e-paper can retain an image indefinitely without any power.

Writing on the Napkin PC would be the same as on its paper counterpart, except instead of regular pens there will be electronic look-alikes. The doodling action will be accomplished by radio transmission between the pen, the napkin and the base, with information displayed in e-ink. The concept includes a modular feature, allowing the creation of a bigger image by connecting multiple napkins. It can also be pinned to a board during a presentation.

8. Wearable Music Player


This music player by Mac Funamizu looks like a transparent bracelet you slap on your wrist. If transparent isn’t for you, it can reproduce the image or pattern of your choice. The set also has a pair of discreet earpieces equipped with a tiny microphone.

Features include web streaming and voice recognition, but the best part is how you access the playlist: you can verbally ask for a particular title, or hum it. The mic recognizes the sound and selects the music. unless you’re really off-key. And have you ever wished that your life had background music, just like in the movies? The player’s “I’m-a-movie-star” feature can detect your heartbeat and adjust the rhythm of a song to your own body, so you can have a dramatic chase scene while you jog or a relaxing mood-setter over a romantic candlelit dinner.

7. Smart Highway


Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde collaborated with building and developing company Heijmans to create the concept of a smart highway that will hopefully solve many of the problems of today’s roads. Roosegaarde hopes to encourage the purchase of more electric cars by creating a dedicated charging lane on every road. The “Electric priority lane” will be powered by sunlight and charge cars inductively.

The concept also promises an interactive road deck with multiple smart designs like dynamic paint that can inform the driver about weather changes through animations on the street, or adjust lanes based on traffic. For sustainable illumination on dark roads, he thought of sensor based illumination and glow-in-the-dark street lining. The entire concept was created around solar power to reduce ecological impact.

6. Self-cleaning Fridge


This fridge promises lots of features for the busy person, and claims to reduce waste. Hooked directly to the British Ocado supermarket chain, the processor inside the fridge will be able to scan for expiry dates, see if items are used up and order online to replenish itself. Other features include measuring portion sizes for calorie intake, suggesting recipes and, thank goodness, cleaning itself. It’s also supposed to have shelves made from nano-tiles capable of moving food items around, so that older produce would be brought to the front to be consumed immediately.

5. Touch-Hear


This tactile dictionary was created by the University of Singapore and designed to change the way we interact with written information. The device is composed of two pieces, a tactile piece located on the tip of the index finger and an audio piece mounted on the tragus, the protuberance on the front of our ear.

It works by touching any word on a physical book, which in turn triggers an audio response directly in your ear. No disturbing your neighbour in the library! The idea is to provide easy access to lots of information regarding a particular word, including definition, translations in various languages or even descriptions of historical events. It’s a concept that promises to dramatically change the way we learn by adding other senses into the process.

4. Ishin-Den-Shin


This concept was developed by Disney and involves the transmission of audible information from one human body to another through touch. The entire installation comprises two people, a microphone and an empty room. The speaker records a message in a special microphone that transforms the sound into low frequency electrical signals and sends them into the speaker’s body. The listener receives the information when touched, because our body can resonate with electrical signals. It’s like hearing whispers from a fingertip, with no actual sound involved.

3. Emotiv EPOC


EPOC’s manufacturer describes it as a wireless neuroheadset that changes the way we interact with computers. It uses a number of different sensors to capture and understand thoughts that are then transmitted through Bluetooth as a computer command. It has an autonomous battery that can last up to 12 hours and can be used with a handful of programs and games specially designed for it. If you’re curious, you can see it in action in recordings online.

2. Wireless Electricity


Although electrical energy is one of the absolute necessities of our world, we still use inconvenient cables to harvest its power. A team at MIT managed to find a way to change that with wireless electrical connectivity. The basic principle of Non-Radiant Resonant Energy Transfer involves the transformation of electrical energy into magnetic energy at a certain frequency. This way, nothing interrupts its flow and no one is affected by it. Only the transmitter and the receiving appliance would be able to interact with each other, giving our future houses a new look without a mess of cables everywhere.

1. Bionic Contact Lenses


These lenses are circuits connected to a microprocessor equipped with an antenna, with everything packed into an organic polymer membrane the size of a regular contact lens. Their intended purpose is to offer us the fastest access to information using the least amount of effort. We could connect to the Internet, play games or get weather forecasts without so much as lifting a finger, with everything presented as a hologram just for the eyes of the user.

While it’s still just a concept, the existence of such devices could aid our lives in many ways. For example, the wireless lenses could monitor health parameters like cholesterol or blood sugar levels and send the information directly to our doctor. Or they could simply notify us if we skipped medication, supervise our diets and inform us nutrients in our food.

Top image: Bionic contact lenses. Credit: University of Washington.

[Source: Toptenz. Edited. Top image and some links added.]