10 Most Important Inventions That Will Change Our Lives
Modern technology has changed our lives in ways we couldn’t even imagine before. But can it change them any more than that?
Soon, we will be able to detect cancer long before its symptoms appear. Virtual reality is entering our lives at a breathtaking pace. Driverless cars are conquering cities and towns worldwide. We can scan food content with a pocket device. The future is here.
1. DNA Reader
The human genome (aka the DNA) that contains our genetic code has been read 32 times in one second in a simulation test. That will make it possible to develop a fast, error-free, and very cheap DNA reader. The cheapest device is already commercially available and sold for about $2,225.
You can now order a gene test that measures your entire genome for only $300. Thus, finding out one’s inheritance can become even easier.
Gaining more insight into the human genome is expected to revolutionize our health care. For example, it might be possible to detect cancer much earlier and develop effective personalized gene therapies.
2. Biosensors and Biochips
In the future, scientists will be able to develop biosensors capable of identifying diseases and specific physiological conditions. By using them, we will also be able to identify the risk of developing cancer and detect various viral diseases.
A drug test similar to a pregnancy test will make it possible to detect the presence of specific substances in one’s bloodstream. Thanks to the combination of sensitive sensors and optical analysis, scientists will also be able to do extensive virus and protein mapping.
3. Body Condition Analyzers
Devices for measuring human physiology are becoming more and more common these days. Apple’s iPhone can include a microscope, a small camera to photograph the retina or eardrum, an ECG meter, and many other measuring instruments. Some of them have already been approved for use in the US health care institutions, but they are primarily intended for consumers wishing to monitor their health condition.
We’ll probably be able to measure glucose levels by attaching sensors to our skin or assess hemoglobin content by wearing contact lenses or taking a photo of the eyelid with our smartphone.
For example, take a look at the Tricorder XPrize, which is a portable device designed to reliably identify sixteen diseases. You do not need any specialized knowledge to use the tool. Thanks to it, by 2020, patients will probably be able to identify several diseases at home without any professional assistance.
4. Online Platforms and Mobile Apps
New online services and mobile apps are being developed continually — from online paper editing (essay.com) to AR clothing superimposing. For example, using Be My Eyes app, people with normal vision can help the blind cope with everyday situations.
Other examples of similar mobile services include Google’s online physician and Wikihouse, which is predicted to bring about a revolution in construction.
Many ideas are based on collaboration platforms and sharing economy in which marginal costs are approaching zero and organizations become dynamic networks.
As another example, a Finnish company called Fimecc has developed a service that will let it optimize freight deliveries so that freighters do not sail empty 40% of the time.
5. Augmented Reality
Google Glass, the predecessor to augmented reality, wasn’t a big seller. However, it is being replaced by the Magic Leap and Microsoft Hololens — glasses that support augmented reality and make it possible to place realistic three-dimensional objects in their wearers’ physical environment.
6. Real-Time 3D Imaging
Nokia’s new OZO camera creates 3D video content almost in real time. There are already devices capable of 3D imaging the environment. Robot-controlled cars using the Lidar system and depicting the environment in real time are being developed rapidly.
Robotic vacuum cleaners using 3D navigation systems, quadcopters recognizing the surrounding environment, and audio cameras identifying mechanical problems — all of these will soon be a reality.
7. Material Radar
With the help of a material radar, you can scan a product and see what it consists of. For example, SCIO, the cheapest commercial material radar, is now able to distinguish between authentic and counterfeit medications. Finland-based VTT research center has developed a similar technology that relies on infrared radiation. Research is also ongoing in several other areas. By using terahertz frequencies, you can now get an even more accurate picture of the molecular composition of a material.
In Finland, research into radar-based material detection for military use is also being conducted. Among other things, it will make it possible to identify camouflage fabrics from the rest of the surroundings.
By measuring reflections of WiFi frequencies, you can find moving objects and people, even behind solid walls. By using the same technology, we will also be able to measure people’s pulse. Thanks to a material radar, you can also examine blood and other tissue samples. For example, devices like these will make it possible for people with diabetes to scan their food and measure how much carbohydrate it contains.
8. Robot Cars
Elon Musk’s Tesla cars are now driving all by themselves in the United States. Ford and Toyota are also developing their own autopilot cars. By the way, Google’s driverless cars have already put behind over 2 million kilometers.
Autonomous car technology is evolving and becoming cheaper. Today, the artificial intelligence processor developed for robot cars already has the processing power of 150 portable Apple computers. Robot car tests are now being conducted in several cities worldwide, including Helsinki. And, Uber and Lyft have announced that their plans to use driverless cars for their services.
9. 3D Printing
The aircraft industry is adopting 3D printing as its main production method. It is expected that the first 3D-printed car has been already released on the marketed.
It is also expected that the number of 3D printers will have doubled in a few years’ time. The new 3D printing methods are radically faster and more accurate than before, while the products printed with their help have far better quality than before.
10. Solar Energy
The price of solar energy falls by 7-15% each year, and investments in solar energy are growing globally.
Thanks to thin-film technology, solar panels have become lighter and more flexible. Also, they take far fewer valuable materials to produce. There are now plans being made to cover roads and building walls with solar panels. Panels that let in sunlight can even be installed in regular windows.
Solar energy is already being produced in the same quantity as regular electricity. It is projected that by 2020, every second household in Australia will be able to stop using conventional electricity and switch to solar energy, accumulator technology, and fuel cells.