The Future of Inventions: Predictions and Possibilities
In our latest technology feature, we've put together a list of some of the most exciting future innovations that have the potential to change the world. The list is based on a combination of what's happening now, what we think will happen in the next 20 years and what the experts say might be on the horizon.
We've all heard of 3D-printed aeroplane parts, but printed electronics are going to be huge in the coming decades. With low fabrication costs, they'll soon become commonplace in countless everyday business and consumer applications, including ultra-thin digital displays that fold up like a piece of paper.
A new breed of robotic exoskeletons are already being used by soldiers for extra strength and mobility, but they could also make disabled people even more independent too. The exoskeletons are made from biocompatible materials, so they can be adapted to suit different body types and shapes.
We'll start to see more robots working in hospitals in the next few years, with engineers at Purdue University designing mechanical scrub nurses that respond to hand gestures during surgery. They'll also be able to perform other vital tasks that currently require humans, such as moving patients around the operating theatre.
It may sound a little bit creepy, but if researchers at Rice University can turn dead spiders into robot grippers, it could be a game changer in the future.
Taking a leaf out of their biology, scientists are now using the blood-like fluid from dead insects to build mechanical arms and hands. This could eventually lead to artificial limbs that can do everything from pick up items to walk on their own.
There's a long list of ways to extract water from seawater, but it can be expensive and difficult to scale up. That's why Israeli company Sorek is building the world's largest desalination plant, which can produce 627,000 cubic meters of freshwater a day.
If this technology works well, it's not impossible to imagine that it will soon be used in more and more countries to resolve the global water crisis. Sorek estimates that 50% of Israel's water could come from desalination within a year, which is a significant step forward for the country.
In the coming decade, the Internet of Things will grow to connect billions of devices and trillions of objects. This will revolutionise the way we live and work, and it will make our lives a lot easier in many ways.
The idea of virtual reality has been around for a while now, but it's getting much more real in recent years. With VR-AR, we're getting the ability to use apps that overlay information on top of our actual environment - and it's becoming more realistic every day.