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In the past 10 years we have also seen the emergence of the home wireless network where our homes now have an average of five devices connected to it. The Nest thermostat saves us money by learning our living patterns and adjusting our heat or air conditioning accordingly. It, too, can be connected to a home wireless network router and then adjusted remotely, provide energy reports and automatically get software updates.
But if you think this is all pretty great, you ain't seen nothing yet.
There is a concept called disruptive technology. What this basically means is that a new technology comes along and disrupts or replaces an existing technology much as smart phones displaced landlines in many homes. The next big things may not disrupt existing technology so much as add to it. Here are 10 technological changes coming in the next five years that will rock your world. We leave it up to you to decide whether they are disruptive or just new.
1. The cloud has only just begun
You may have already taken advantage of cloud computing by storing your data or photos in the cloud. But as the Carpenters sang, it’s only just begun. The real power of the cloud is that it offers easy access to an unlimited amount of computing power at crazy, cheap prices. The cloud will eventually replace libraries with the exception of those that store historic documents. The day could come when you’ll be able to order custom-made shoes simply by putting your foot on your touchscreen. And you may be able to eventually access videos of experts that will help you with everything from repairing that big screen TV to which golf club to choose.
2. You will be able to hook your brain to your computer
This isn't as far-fetched as it might sound because it's already possible for a computer to type by monitoring the brain’s electrical activity. Technology will continue to advance and it will soon be possible for people with disabilities to operate their wheelchairs just by thinking about it.
3. Super analytics will put a panel of experts in your phone
Another of the next big things to come is super-analytics. This will be much like having a brain in the cloud. Analytics will sift through incredibly huge streams of data in real-time to come up with patterns or to answer specific questions. Google Future Trends and social media analysis are already a result of super analytics. But just think. Your golf coach could instantly match your mechanics to the world's top golfers. Or on a more pedestrian level, analytics could search through audios and videos and provide the exact quote you need or help you with discussions on related topics.
4. We will mine metals from brine
New chemical processes are making large-scale desalinization economically feasible. In turn this will allow the mining of metals from brine or wastewater. This will not only be a new source of these metals but will also help our environment by cutting down on the need for mining.
5. Hadoop or big data technology will diagnose you
Hadoop is capable of scooping out a large amount of data, spread it across low-cost computers and then analyze it affordably and quickly. This technology has already made possible applications on Yahoo, Facebook, eBay, LinkedIn, Google and Zynga and many others. As an example of this, biomedicine applications could crawl the records of millions of patients as well as medical journals instantly to find just the right treatment or to even diagnose your illness. Or it might eventually create a personalized shopper for you that would be able to always find the best deals. How exactly does Hadoop work? Here's a video courtesy of National Debt Relief that explains Hadoop ...
6. Nanostructured carbon composites will create huge savings
How these composites are created is way too technical to discuss here. Suffice it to say that composites created from nanostructured carbon are lighter, stronger, more conductive and cheaper than their conventional counterparts. When cars are made from carbon fiber reinforced composites they will be 40% lighter, stronger and a lot easier to recycle than older models. This will make it possible to realize huge energy savings.
7. You'll be able to talk to your house and it will talk back
Coming soon are very tiny, low energy sensors you will be able to attach to everything inside and outside of your house. There are already several of these available from Zigbee, Z-Wave and 61opan. They can run for many years on the same battery and will be attached to things such as railcars, traffic lights and your keys. Plus, they can be programmed to give you information. You will never again get stuck in a traffic jam because the traffic lights will reroute you. You will be able to attach a voice commands to just about anything. So the day could come when your dryer tweets you that it’s done and your clothes are ready
8. You will print your own computer mouse
There are now 3-D printers available at fairly reasonable prices. But the day will come when there will be a 3-D printer in every house just as there is now an inkjet or laser printer. Just imagine that instead of running to the hardware store to pick up that bolt or wrench you suddenly need, you could print out a copy using your 3-D printer. You say your child's having a fit because she’s lost her favorite toy? No problem. Just print out another one. In fact, you'll eventually be able to print out just about anything you can think up.
9. There will be wearable electronics adapted to your body
There is already Fitbit, Apple’s iWatch, Microsoft Band and others. However, today’s technology that they be paired with a smart phone. A few years from now this will no longer be the case. You’ll have wearable electronics on your body, embedded in your clothes and even under your skin. These devices will track information such as your heart rate or stress levels so you will have real-time feedback about your health. This alone could save hundreds of thousands of lives by alerting people to a coming heart attack so they could go to the nearest hospital or clinic for treatment and never suffer the heart attack.
10. We will have safer and healthier cancer fighting drugs
If you've ever had a relative or friend treated for cancer you know that the toxic chemicals contained in chemotherapy can have serious side effects like nausea, extreme weakness and hair loss. But it’s believed that by 2025, the drugs used to treat cancer will be more exact and more precise and have fewer side effects. Drugs that are more targeted can bind to specific proteins and anti-bodies to cause a very specific action. When you pair this with our advancing knowledge of gene mutations, this is bound to mean better treatments for cancer.
11. Biodegradable packaging will replace those nasty plastic bags
In the very near future almost all packaging will be made from cellulosic materials that seem like plastic but are actually made from plant matter. This will make packaging biodegradable and better for the environment as they will replace the plastic bags currently used in grocery stores.