Last year about this time, I waxed curmudgeonly on Things I’m Still Waiting For, like interplanetary ion drives, flying cars, hover boards, to mention a few. Time magazine’s recent Best Inventions of 2014 review, has some interesting items for consideration.
First out of the chutes is a real-life hover board, not unlike the one I drooled over in the movie Back to the Future. Not exactly the fly anywhere version Michael J. Fox used, but it’s a start. We’re still shooting objects into space via 1950’s style ballistic missiles, but it’s getting cheaper. India just parked a satellite in Mars orbit for the paltry sum of $74 million. Hell, that’s less expensive than retiling the old Space Shuttle. Fossil fuel sourced energy is more popular than ever, but Lockheed’s development of a High-Beta Fusion Reactor, just might get us closer to the holy grail of nuclear fusion. Molecular X-Rays (images of body at molecular level) might bring Dr.McCoy of Star Trek, back in vogue. The humanitarian invention of the year is a filtration system that scrubs Ebola virus from the blood stream.
Some things on the 2014 list just seem a little silly to me. Smart watches, especially the kind designed to monitor fitness, are getting closer to self-awareness. Just what I need, virtual nagging that I’ve put on a few pounds. We now can get smart phones that put privacy first. I’m sorry, it’s the cloud storage that gets routinely hacked, not the device. Fashionistas will love new stylish, glowing ring jewelry to alert a new email or text, so they don’t have to go digging in their purse for the smart phone, which … if they want to read the message … they still have to dig through their purse to get the smart phone. An outfit called WikiFoods (sounds like culinary delights you’re not supposed to know about), invented wrapper-less candy. Great, now if we could find a way to reduce the number of grimy fingers that touched it first. You can get a pillbox that tracks and advises when to take your medication. Yep, more nagging. Silliest invention of the year? A chip that stops your slouching – translation – virtual nagging that sounds like your mother.
3D printers are becoming more and more like replicators made famous by Star Trek fiction, a boon for schools, designers, engineers, and no doubt in time, the adult toy and escort services. Conscious homes have taken new steps toward better living, by observing how we live and adapt accordingly. Just think about it. Foods and items we routinely use will reorder supplies without prompting; house awakens when you do, keeps the toilet seat warm within optimal times; the list is endless.
If I had to pick one futuristic item on my wish list I’d like today, it would be modified transit. Cars will be powered by anything other than fossil fuel, likely some version of electric that can go long distances, with quick recharge capability (without overheating and blowing up). Second, will be access to smart roads, where I can get on I-95, program my exit, access the computer road grid, and kick up my feet for a nap. Everything entering the interstate (or major commuter routes), must have smart-road capability, or access is prohibited (think of it like a toll road). Cars, trucks, buses are controlled by computer, which keeps everything moving, switching lanes where needed to optimize smooth flow. Speeding, bumper hugging, and road rage become a thing of the past, since the computer, unlike today’s driver, isn’t pissed off about something, late for work, or just left a bar after winning the regional beer pong championship.
I’ll have to make peace that a flying car is not going to happen in my lifetime, and I’m not about to fork over $10K for a hover board. Something that should happen in my lifetime, is a reasonably priced electric car that will take me to Aunt Margaret’s in Florida.