In 1956, during the General Motors Motorama exhibit, a short film aired suggesting that the world would have driverless cars by 1976. Inexplicably, everyone also sings. Those of us who are still waiting to get our hands on these hands off cars might scoff at the video, which teaches us all about the dangers of making unfounded predictions about the future.
But, hey, let’s do it anyway! Here are the best technologies that maybe/possibly/hopefully will be arriving in 2017.
If we ignore the part about robots dooming us all by forcing us into unemployment, the idea of a robot kitchen assistant is a dream come true. A year and a half ago, Moley Robotics said their robot hands would launch in 2017, claiming they would be able to cook 2000 meals at the push of a button. Whilst the undoubtedly expensive equipment won’t be one for all of us next year, the robot hands pave the way for a future where you might never have to stir your boyfriend’s beans again.
Google’s modular phone
Project Ara is Google’s attempt to stop us all buying a new iPhone every six months. The modular phone will allow users to slot in and out different parts of the device (such as cameras and speakers), meaning when phone technology improves you can simply swap in a new module rather than buy a whole new phone. The Ara phone has been delayed before, but Google hope it will be on the market in 2017.
Electrovibration technology is seen as the way forward in allowing us to really “touch” the stuff on our touch screens. The tech will hopefully allow us to feel different textures, which could potentially help amputees and the blind, whilst also improving everything from gaming to online shopping.
The technology to improve batteries has been around for a while, with StoreDot unveiling their prototype fast-charging battery way back in 2014. Whilst battery life has been threatened by ever-slimming phones, there’s no reason that instantly-chargeable batteries shouldn’t be on the market soon. Get the hint, yeah, Apple?
The male “pill”
Research into male contraception is still ongoing 55 years after the pill was introduced in the UK (for the reason why, see: patriarchy). Nonetheless, there have been significant breakthroughs in the last few years, with RISUG and Vasalgel – both contraceptive injections – currently undergoing clinical trials.
The Moon Express
Whilst commercial trips to the moon may be another few years off, the first private company has permission to land on the moon in 2017. The Moon Express will launch its lunar landing next year, with permission from the US Government.
Fully waterproof iPhones
Though the iPhone 7 is partially waterproof (and for that we sacrificed our beloved headphone jack), fully waterproof iPhones are not yet widely available. With both the technology and the consumer demand available, 2017 will hopefully become the year that you can start keeping your phone in your back pocket again. (Bonus: Samsung also might release a phone you can fold.)
Speaking of water, the Hamwell’s e-shower could potentially help alleviate the world’s water crisis. The shower will recycle the water you’re using in real time, meaning you use a much smaller amount, and is commercially available next year. The water is caught in a tray, filtered with UV light, and then poured back over your head. Trust us, your great grandchildren will thank you.
Fake news detectors
With “fake news” being the hottest two words of the moment, it seems unlikely that the furore around the stuff won’t lead to practical solutions. Facebook are already said to be developing solutions, whilst various organisations are attempting to roll out real-time fact-checking. Could we live in a future where it’s impossible for politicians to lie? Well, no, but at least we’ll get better at telling when they’re doing it.