Once upon a time, the vision of the future was that by the 21st century, we’d all be driving jet-propelled vehicles and living on Mars. While Elon Musk continues to think the latter will be a real possibility many others remain distinctly skeptical.
But, while this may be science fiction rather than science fact, there are some genuinely remarkable tech breakthroughs that are set to enter the mainstream. Here are just five of them.
Not all technological advances have to be complex, sometimes simplicity is best. This is definitely what a team of Finnish engineers have discovered when experimenting with sustainable ways of heating.
It works by filling a large container with 100 tons of sand which heats up when an electrical current derived from wind and solar power is passed through it. The heat can then be distributed to nearby homes and other buildings using technology-resistive heating which is both very effective and extremely environmentally friendly.
Neurons are specialized transmitters in the brain that send signals to muscles, glands and other nerve cells. In many conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and tachycardia, malfunctioning ones can be the cause.
But now scientists at the University of Bath have devised a way to attach artificial neurons to silicon chips that can then be implanted into the body, mimicking the actions of the real ones.
Previous attempts to create artificial neurons have failed because of the energy needed to make them work, but this is not a problem with these as they are driven by just 140 nanowatts, about a billionth of the current needed by a standard microprocessor.
Sonic fire extinguishers
George Mason University in Virginia is working on developing drones that can generate soundwaves that are so powerful that they disrupt the air around them. When directed at a forest fire this can starve the air of the oxygen that combustion needs, putting out the fire immediately.
The Smart Payment Ring
Fashion meets practicality in a new contactless payment method from Quontic Bank. The designer ring is a pet project of the bank’s CEO Steve Schnall who was first introduced to the tech behind it at a European conference in 2019.
As well as being accepted wherever contactless payments are available, this is the sort of idea designed to appeal to sectors where competition is intense. For example, a new casino aiming to stand out from the crowd could well be interested in exploring whether it might be practical for their own players to use. Not only would it provide the casino with a real point of difference, but it would also mean players could add stake money to their account almost without lifting a finger.
Sweat-powered sports watches
Soon, it really could pay to push yourself on the next workout. That’s because a material that converts the electrolytes in sweat into electricity is set to be used for the wristbands of sports watches. So the harder you work, the more power you’ll generate.
So look out for all these tech breakthroughs that should be with us anytime soon. As to whether we’ll be using any of them on Mars, well the jury’s still out on that one.