Douglas Adams once said:
“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
I am steadily approaching 35, though I’m not within touching distance yet, and I would like to hope that this will not prove to be the case for me… I hope to be excited by new things until I’m well into my 120s (one of the things I hope to be excited by is massive advances in medical technology).
Anyway, here are three things (I’m taking a break from the number five) that I hope to see sometime in the near future, whether this side of 35 or otherwise. (I’ve tried to be optimistic, but not unrealistic in my assessment of what might be possible in the next five or ten years… I’m willing to wait a little longer for my lightsabre.)
1) Cardless payments/identities – Whether it’s subdermal microchips, retinal scans, whatever… I’d like to get rid of my wallet, with its various bank cards, membership cards and other plastic rectangles. To be honest, I mainly can’t face the possibility that I might lose it one day and have to expend huge amounts of time and effort to replace all the various things in there (though at least I won’t need to replace my Blockbusters card… I should probably just take that out).
As a similar, but distinct item, I’d love some sort of biometric verification on computers, so that I didn’t have to think up passwords for every single website I sign up to – I have a rough system, so that they’re not all completely random, but it’s a pain nonetheless.
2) True waterproofing – I’ve been tracking the progress of waterproofing techniques for some years. Obviously we have Scotchguard and what have you, but that doesn’t hold up to serious rain. A while back, I read an article about a technique for making every fibre of a material hydrophobic, so that it becomes 100% waterproof, but still completely breatheable… however it was very expensive and required a lab, so not something that could be done at home. A few months ago, I saw this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZrjXSsfxMQ – which is definitely a step towards what I want, though apparently the coating doesn’t last very long with any sort of real use (the actual waterproofing qualities while it does last are supposedly as awesome as the video suggests). Mainly what I’d like is a bag that will stand up to the worst of British weather, leaving my iPad perfectly dry.
3) Holographic tabletops – Of course, what I’m really interested in is the inevitable RPG opportunities that holographic tabletops would allow; 3D battlefields with fog-of-war and such like in place, dungeon exploration where you can actually see the corridors you’re walking down, the ability to have truly gigantic creatures without breaking your table under the weight of the “mini”. Some of this has been partially delivered by Map Tools and other mapping software, but I’m eagerly awaiting the next step in roleplaying awesomeness.
As a final note, one thing I never want to see (or certainly never plan to use) is any sort of teleportation technology… even leaving aside unlikely issues, such a genetic contamination due to insect interference, I’m not willing to disintegrate myself, just so that another version of me can save himself a bit of travel time.