I take a lot of online classes for someone who has been out of school for a while. Two classes (one I am currently still taking) are Emerging Technologies (looking at futurism and how libraries can prepare for the future) and TechniCity, which delves into how technology may solve issues in communities.
That said, some new technologies and ways of conducting daily business I have noticed recently that has potential to change the world:
Non-stick coating: This has been in development for something serious than just ketchup bottles, but the science has a lot of ramifications for different aspects of city and personal life. Food containers could be much more reusable, and anything else that could be damaged from water could have it slide right off.
Zero-waste Grocery Store: No plastic and packaging is allowed (and this is where that non-stick container option would be ideal), which would dramatically cut back on garbage and recycling as a good deal of our waste is generated in the kitchen (where most of the garbage cans are located).
Trash-sensored cans: Speaking of garbage and recycling, these “smart” cans could not only be available for public use but also private use to reduce unnecessary pickups or additional pickups. Also, public cans can have compactors to make them even more efficient.
Let’s get a little more serious now.
Scanadu: It might remind you of something from Star Trek. This device is allows individuals to perform personal body scans to ensure vitals are okay. This can greatly improve timely medical treatment and less cost for the user as a doctor may not need to intervene until vitals are off.
SCiO: And to aid in maintaining one’s personal vitals comes SCiO, which can scan food and give you nutritional information. Not only food, but medicines could be scanned and reduce the number of medical incidents (taking the wrong medication).
Feeling a little more Star Trek-like now? Just wait, here are some more recent innovations that may truly change life.
Printable solar cells: If you haven’t heard of the 3D printer movement out there (3D printers have a long way to go, but there’s some really neat new ones coming out that can make food (getting your ingredients from that package free grocery store) and 3D objects built from liquid resin (can you say Terminator 2?). Aaaaanyway, how about a printer that can print solar sheets?
Spray-on solar power: So, solar panels are a bit obvious, and even printing out your own still leaves a bit of a style-to-be desired. How about take any surface and make it possible to generate energy without “adding” to it. Retro-actively “converting to” alternative energy may just get as easy as spraying your existing surfaces.
Solar windows: Why stop at those solid surfaces, why not install your new windows with solar power built INTO them? Every inch of your house could gather solar energy, and just think of how much power a skyscraper could generate…
Solar roadways: And speaking of collecting a lot of solar energy, what about all those roads that go on forever across the country? Not only could they gather energy where no power is now available, but they could be built to melt snow and ice off the roads with that energy, or use built in LEDs to create warnings for drivers (the video can be annoying, but the possibilities listed are great). I hope you are as excited for this technology as I am!
Power-generating tires: So the road is probably not going to power your car, but your TIRES might be able to. Goodyear has a concept for a tire that generates electricity. Say “hellooooo” to that Tesla (or any electric) car that can take you across the country.
These can all really change how we gather and use energy, but what about natural disasters?
Tokyo Flood Prevention: Japan has a lot at stake being an island nation right next to some serious seismic activity. As glaciers continue to melt, we should all be concerned (and try to reverse it as much as possible). But Japanese engineers have developed a fantastic system for flood prevention that all flood risk areas need to consider (and hopefully build!).
There’s so much more, especially related to transportation and environmental initiatives, but I wanted to share these ones specifically.