A model shows off Google Glass, a wearable computer. Credit: Google
Techies love to talk about how their new app or whatever is going to change the world. Most of the time it is absolute bluster, the ramblings of business executives who hope to sell their startup to Google. However, once in a while, their sentiments ring true. Here are five current and forthcoming technologies that could very well change the very fabric of society.
Here is the Foodini, a 3-D printer designed to assemble certain meals. Credit: Natural Machines/AFP
1. 3-D Printers: For years, 3-D printing has been the purview of the industrial sector, with mammoth machines pumping out turbines and other necessary industrial components. Nowadays, however, the tech has entered the home, allowing average people to print out knick-knacks right in their living rooms. Right now it's mostly f0r fun, with useful applications few and far between. Once this tech sees some refinement and continues getting cheaper, it could blow things up in a big way. Printable food, tools and even homes could be in the cards. Oh, and also guns. Yikes.
Virtual Reality gaming company Oculus was recently bought by Facebook.
2. Virtual Reality: As we all know from 1990s cinema, reality bites. So, in that spirit, virtual reality rules. (Wait, is that the opposite of "bites"?) This technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and shows no signs of slowing down. Facebook bought the VR headset Oculus Rift for billions of ZuckerBucks, so you know it's serious. As computing power increases, this technology will follow suit. Imagine a world where we all have access to our own personal Holodecks. We won't have to interact with our loved ones ever again! Thank goodness for that.
One of the earliest examples of a fitness tracker, the Jawbone Up.
3. Health Trackers: Consumer-wise, this tech is still in its infancy. The models we have access to keep track of our heart rates, sleep schedules and how well we run around the track. In research and development rooms around the world, however, this tech is poised to create a big sea change for the medical industry. Imagine being able to wear a bracelet that keeps an eye on just about every one of your vitals, and beams that information to your doctor for analysis. Check-ups could be a thing of the past. No more ball-grabbing!
Google's Project Ara is just one modular smartphone coming to market.
4. Modular Gadgets: The main problem with these expensive doodads we keep buying is that, oftentimes, we are paying for features we'll never use (sort of like cable television). Modular technology breaks these gadgets down to their essence, allowing the consumer to buy them piecemeal, when they need a particular feature set. It could completely change how we view the world of smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and eventually, life itself.
Developer Maximiliano Firtman wears the prototype device Google Glass. Credit: Reuters
5. Augmented Reality: For the rare times you have to leave the comforting cocoon of your VR wonderland, there's augmented reality. This technology, which overlays digital information over the real world, is certainly in its infancy. However, a little mom-and-pop company called Google is looking to change all that with its oft-discussed Glass device. Maybe one day someone will invent a version of this tech that doesn't make the wearer look like a doofus.