Every day the world relies more and more on technology, so rapid advancements in the field are no longer surprising. In fact, they’re expected. Entrepreneurs step out and take the risks to develop unique products that meet needs we didn’t even know we had.
Engineers and designers already working in the technology industry are coming up with new ways to advance their individual fields. Consumers seek out the latest and greatest pieces of technology, always looking for what’s new and what’s next.
Futuristic technology is even being incorporated into products where it has never been used before.
As technology advances, so goes the world. Everything from the way we work to the way we play is changing daily. People now rely on technology to keep them entertained, to help them get where they’re going and even to tell them how to dress.
Tech products even have the potential to reshape entire industries and the companies that work within them. These trends show no signs of slowing down. Here are some products that are on the market or on the horizon that have potential to make long-lasting changes in our world.
The Nintendo Switch hit the market in March of 2017. Nintendo put substantial resources behind the rollout so the gaming system made a splash almost immediately. Likewise, consumers have heavily supported it since its launch with rave reviews for the games, controllers and other components.
One thing that makes this device so special is that it is the first major success story from the world of hybrid consoles. That term means that the handheld console can run games from a cartridge, which is what most players are familiar with, but it can also download digital games via the internet.
The Switch handheld device is made up of a small tablet with two detachable Joy-Con controllers, one on either side. These controllers have a feature built into them called HD Rumble.
It sends vibrations to the controllers to give the player a more immersive gaming experience. The Joy-Cons can also be detached from the console and used on their own for players who prefer the feel of a smaller component.
When you place the handheld into the dock that comes with the system, the handheld then becomes a home console that can play on a television or a computer monitor via HDMI cable.
The same games are playable in both handheld and console form so you don’t lose any depth of experience when you’re playing on the go, apart from a minor graphics downgrade when in handheld mode.
The Nintendo Switch was designed so well that it has made for an easy on-the-go gaming experience, opening up the system to a whole new audience of people who want to play video games but don’t have the time.
For example, people who travel a lot can now pass their time in airports, train depots and bus stations with Mario and Luigi without losing the feel of playing in their living room. Parents who travel often with children have welcomed the Switch as a new avenue of backseat entertainment to quell the choruses of, “Are we there yet?”.
With more people away from home more than ever, this device has thrived with new audiences. This new way of looking at the world of gaming is changing everything about how players interact with consoles.
No doubt other companies will look to imitate this style in their own products in the future, taking the gaming industry in a new direction.
Nike HyperAdapt shoes spent more than a decade in development before rolling out in November of 2016. At a release price of $720, however, the audience of prospective buyers was small.
Nike’s limited edition self-tying shoes live up to their name and do exactly what you expect: They tie themselves. The lucky few who own the shoes rave about how comfortable they are right out of the box.
When you slide your feet into them, all you have to do is stand up. The sensor in the heel of the shoe triggers the technology. The shoes make a little noise and adjust themselves to the exact size and proportions of your feet.
These kicks also include multicolor LED lights to help you show off the expensive new additions to your wardrobe.
Nike HyperAdapt shoes also come with a hard-reset button in case they malfunction. If the self-tying feature doesn’t get it exactly right, the shoes also have manual tightening and loosening buttons located under the fabric.
Nike has made it clear, however, that these shoes are the footwear equivalent of a concept car. Even though they have been tested in athletic environments like running, jumping and climbing, there are still issues that need to be fixed.
For example, the buttons are a little hard to hit, the shoes are somewhat heavy and they need to be charged approximately once a month.
While kinks still need to be worked out, on the bright side that just means that these shoes will most likely have successors in the future, maybe not even just from Nike but from other companies as well.
This is the first time anything like this has been commercially available, so these shoes have the potential to bring about a major shift in the world of footwear.
Self-driving cars have been in the making for a while now. Companies such as Ford and Toyota have invested millions in the development of these vehicles. Ford even teamed up with Domino’s Pizza to develop a vehicle with a built-in oven that can drive itself to your house for the ultimate in fresh-baked goodness.
Companies such as Lyft and Uber are looking at this invention as a way to cut down on overhead since you don’t have to pay a driver to pilot a self-driving car. Chinese companies are also investing in these vehicles, according to reports from market watchers.
Most experts in the field anticipate an expected commercial release in 2025 though there’s no way to gauge the accuracy of those predictions. A lot of people are actually scared that these cars will become a reality, though.
One survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that three out of four Americans polled reported they would be scared to ride in an autonomous car.
However, those on the other side of the debate point out that, according to the United States Department of Transportation, 94 percent of crashes are due to human error, so computer-operated cars should easily cut down on vehicle accidents as opposed to causing more.
Once the technology is perfected to a point where self-driving vehicles are safe to sell to the masses, it will change the world of car buying and transportation as a whole. Such a development will shape the buying preferences of a whole new generation.
The emerging technology presents a new slate of positives and negatives to consider. Self-driving vehicles could open opportunities for delivery services of all sorts, but they could also put a lot of people out of jobs.
Transportation, in general, could be much easier if people weren’t required to do all the work behind the wheel.
It is worth noting, though, that the price on these vehicles will be very high upon release, just like any brand-new product and the newest model year of any car or truck.
Much work still needs to be done on autonomous vehicles, but the amount of money being invested in research and development should yield a solid, reliable vehicle on the day that the first self-driving car becomes available to the general public.
3D printers have been available to the public for a while now but additions and enhancements are still being made, and the machines are still evolving. These printers allow people to print any creation they come up with through the use of three-dimensional modeling software.
These tools can handle different types of materials, so more opportunities will open up as development continues. This ability to turn an idea into a 3D object as opposed to just a drawing on paper has opened a whole new realm of possibilities never before imagined.
For example, plans to 3D print an entire house are in the works.
Obviously, it will take some time to perfect that concept and bring it to reality, but it is still fascinating nonetheless. Imagine the implications for creating low-income housing and living quarters that are friendlier to the environment to produce.
On a smaller scale, 3D printers are also used for making smaller products such as masks, containers and even small pieces of furniture. These printers carry many of the same risks as autonomous cars, though.
They are very likely to put many construction workers out of a job, but they could open up many more positions for graphic designers and others in similar fields. Not as many companies have invested in these as the self-driving car, but enough money is flowing in that direction that the technology continues to improve.
Virtual reality (VR) is most commonly associated with video games and tourist attractions. The Oculus Rift is the big name in the field, but this is by no means the only company to pursue it. Smaller companies and even cell phone providers are finding small but fascinating ways to use virtual reality technology in their products and services.
Used in combination with 360-degree video, virtual reality can provide immersive experiences within video games and short films. This headset device lets you feel like you are really inside the game and/or video.
A movie titled Ready Player One explored what a future with virtual reality could be like. It depicted a world in which people had become obsessed with their virtual worlds to the exclusion of their real lives.
However, a reality such as the one presented in the movie is still a thing of the future. For now, the main focus of these products seems to be small doses of entertainment and nothing more. However, there is no doubt that once perfected, VR could be used for educational and constructive purposes.
It could be used to fully immerse someone in their creative endeavor, and it could potentially be used in a retail product-testing environment. Possibilities abound for the use of VR in both a casual and business environment as it grows into its full potential.
Robots have been around for a very long time, but when Google filed for a patent on robot personalities, a whole new world opened up. The technology allows robots to express different emotions such as happiness, depression, snark, etc.
It also enables the robots to act upon these emotions in ways similar to other human beings. The owner of such a robot could choose for it to have a personality selected specifically to suit his or her needs.
Owners might give it a personality akin to a favorite fictional character or even a person they know in real life.
Skeptics abound when it comes to this technology. The ability to copy the likeness of someone else rather than communicating with the real person could be dangerous to social interactions, not to mention downright creepy.
Who knows what sorts of malfunctions these robots could experience? However, Google has shown time and time again how thoroughly the company tests and experiments with the products it provides in an effort to give consumers the safest and most enjoyable experience for their dollars. Commercially available anthropomorphic robot companions could change the future of the way humans interact with one other.
So many commercially available products use smart technology that consumers often take it for granted. Your television, phone and even your entire house can be programmed to run almost without you.
Thermostats, lights, cooking appliances, doors, security cameras and windows can control themselves according to the homeowner’s liking. The temperature goes up and down depending on when the occupant is at home or away.
The lights turn on when someone enters a room and turn off when no motion is detected after a predetermined amount of time.
Cooking appliances start themselves and carry out their tasks for however long and in whatever way the chef of the house desires. Doors lock themselves if left unattended for too long.
Security cameras activate upon the departure of the homeowner and can be monitored via smartphone. The house also alerts you if any windows are left opened.
Everything your house does can, of course, be controlled from a distance with a smartphone or other device of the user’s choosing.
The company SmartThings has been the most prominent in its efforts to make homes smart. Its website makes it easy to learn about the products and how to use them.
With inventions like these, people can save energy and time without even having to actively control their devices after the initial setup.
This is good for the environment in the future, but it can also help cut down on crime by preventing robberies, home invasions and other illegal activities as security systems become more prevalent.
Few negatives come with the idea of smart homes, and many people have already hopped on board.
Drones are invading our lives and being used in all sorts of ways. They can capture stunning video and pictures previously available only through the use of a camera on a helicopter or airplane.
They have been used by the government to scope out situations before sending in troops. Law enforcement uses drones to evaluate dangerous situations before sending in human officers. In the realm of our day-to-day lives, drones deliver packages right to your doorstep, eliminating the wait of days or weeks for your purchases to arrive.
Amazon uses small delivery drones in certain areas of the country as part of the Amazon Prime monthly subscription service. Deliveries get to Amazon customers in a matter of hours as opposed to sitting on a truck and getting moved around through a delivery service.
The package goes straight from the packing facility to the customer’s front door, saving time for those who need their product as soon as they can get it. As drones improve they’ll be able to carry heavier packages, removing some of the limitations they currently face.
The future is bright for this technology as it promises to further revolutionize the world of shopping. We could even see the postal service in a whole new form flying right over our heads.
In 1899, Charles Duell, Commissioner of the United States Patent Office, predicted the closing of the department. He believed that everything there was to be invented had already been discovered. How surprised he would be to see what is on the horizon in the coming decades and centuries. New discoveries and developments appear every day. These innovations enter into our everyday lives gradually through the products we use and depend on. Companies large and small are investing time and money into research on tech products that can benefit not just their businesses, but the experiences of their customers. These products span all aspects of our lives, from our shoes to our video games. As the world becomes progressively more technology centered these products only become more prevalent, and entrepreneurs are encouraged to chase bigger and bolder ideas.