Technology defines the modern world. Humans are designing and refining new devices faster than ever, and each one changes our lifestyle. It's impossible to perfectly predict what tomorrow will bring, but we can still look ahead and get a general impression of the future.
Drones have been around for a long time, but they have only recently started to be useful. Aerial drones have already come into use to make direct deliveries from restaurants and warehouses to homes, and that is only going to get more common as innovators refine their devices. Although delivery is the most common use, drones are versatile enough to be used in many capacities. One company is even experimenting with them for security surveillance. It's hard to say how far drones will spread, but they certainly have a place in the future.
Energy is getting more expensive, and people are becoming more aware of the dangerous of pollution. Those problems are driving innovation in the energy industry, and those innovations are making solar power more appealing. Solar panels are getting cheaper and more efficient every day, and people are adopting them faster than ever. Fossil fuels still have a place, but that place is shrinking as new solar technologies develop.
Augmented reality systems that mix artificial information in with natural senses are spreading. Most of the current systems are focused on gaming, but that is likely to change in the near future. Augmented reality has the potential to reduce training times in many industries by putting digital instructions and video tutorial right next to machinery. It can also improve our communications by imposing a text conversation on the environment so that people don't need to glance down at a phone. There are a lot of experimental AR devices available at the moment, from phones to glasses, and it's hard to tell which ones will be successful, but it's almost certain that some of them will become almost universal in the next few decades.
Imagine being able to walk over to a machine and have it create any object that you need. 3D printers can't do that quite yet, but they are getting very close. The printers are getting cheap enough that almost anyone can afford to build one, and their quality is improving. Consumer printers can make almost anything out of plastic that doesn't involve too many moving parts, and industrial printers can work with metal or even organs. They aren't perfect yet, but these machines are pushing people towards another industrial revolution.
Many things are expensive due to the cost of labor rather than materials. If labor gets cheaper, then so do the products, and people can spend less time working. Robots are reducing the need for human labor already, so much so that some factories are already replacing most of their workers. Robots can't handle creative jobs, and it takes a long time to program them for specialized tasks, but they're great for reducing the need for unskilled and repetitive work.
This article was written by Yunhong Liu, the founder of We Talk UAV, a new drone community and news site launching later this year.