GADGETS

EXCLUSIVE: The gadgets of 2025: A vision of the future

Technology defines our culture -- in the future, it will define it even more. For three days, FoxNews.com met with Frog, the global design and innovation firm in San Francisco that helped shape the original Mac computers and many of the most famous gadgets we use. What follows are the concepts Frog developed after "frogthink" with their most brilliant minds.

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What if you could peek into the future? Other than changing your investment strategy, you might want to know how the gadgets and tech we use will change. Yahoo could die a slow death …or become the next powerhouse. Apple might continue to dominate, or the phone and a tablet we use today could become the dinosaurs of tomorrow. We asked legendary design firm Frog to tell us what the future will look like. The firm developed these concepts after brainstorming with their most brilliant thinkers.

Frog Design

The Digital Urn

One tragedy of the digital age: The elderly are sometimes forgotten. Those over 65 tend to be confused by Facebook and Twitter, while those under 65 are so inundated with tech that they live in a deep fog, hardly aware of the aging population. The answer: a digital urn. The urn would store memories of loved ones in a way that is easier to memorialize. Roger Kay, a consumer analyst with Endpoint Technologies, says the concept might seem depressing, but it’s a step we may need in future society. “This will call up high-fidelity memories of a loved one.”

Frog Design

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For the young, an ear clip will collect and store brain activity as audio and video. As you create this life legacy, you can make a hand gesture to indicate that an experience or viewpoint is particularly meaningful. Other less important data would be off-loaded wirelessly.

The user can also make a gesture and add an audio recording to annotate an event or record a message for loved ones.

Frog Design

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The ear clip then would become a digital urn you give to a loved one to wear around their neck to make a statement about your life. Inside the urn, which will transmit a wireless signal, you’ll hold the photos, videos, transcriptions, and audio recordings of a beloved grandfather or friend.

Frog Design

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The object would work like the Facebook Timeline feature – you could pull up a digital legacy, browse the content, and share it with others as a hologram – possibly by walking close to where the events originally took place. The totem (like the spinning top Leonardo DiCaprio carried in the movie "Inception") stands out from the digital noise.

Frog Design

The Immersive Space

Decades ago, futurists predicted a virtual reality machine would envelope our minds with sights and sounds, putting us on a mountaintop or walking beside a gurgling brook. Recent research suggests our minds do not cope well with that level of immersion – we know it’s not real.

An immersive space would be like the videoconferencing systems of today with high resolution displays and crystal clear audio. As display technology evolves, we’ll abandon the need for a gadget in our hand for a stand-alone visual environment at the workplace and at home, controlled by gestures and our voice.

“I want one!” says Dr. Jakob Nielsen, the famed usability design expert with the Nielsen Norman Group. “More fun than the 3D TV screens, which are mainly headache-inducing. However, note that content creation for full-immersion rooms will be much more expensive than the creation of today's video games, so it'll be a mixed blessing and probably only available to fairly rich people. Of course, in 13 years all of us will be richer, because of the productivity gains from continued technological progress.”

Kay says a dedicated room like this might be expensive, but by 2025, the costs for massive displays may be more feasible. Like the digital urn, this retreat area may be the only way to escape.

Frog Design

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One benefit to the immersive space is we’ll be able to retreat from all the competing digital noise around us – say, to chat with a co-worker across town or to work on a project in silence. The immersive space will be sold as an “environment” similar to how you purchase a big screen television today.

Frog Design

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Collaboration and entertainment will become much more visceral and immersive, displaying photos and videos in a 3D dimensional plane without the need for goggles. Individuals can retreat to the space, but groups could also work together. The system will always know who is talking and gesturing.

Frog Design

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Kids can use the immersive space as well to interact with objects. They’ll provide a slight haptic (or buzzing) sensation when you reach into the open space. You’ll be able to reach out and grab an object, move it through the game world, or toss a ball from one end of the room to the other.

Frog Design

Smart Play

Kids will get bored in the future – that’s easy to predict! Yet, parents will gravitate to any toy that can transform itself in purpose and intent – something like a Lego Mindstorm without the programming.

This creates endless possibilities for the child, and less expense and reusable toy to purchase. Plus, a more visual toy stimulates the child’s right brain through experimentation. Nielsen says transforming toys are inevitable -- but may not come until 2050. “I kind of shudder at the thought of the scenes in Toy Story coming to life,” he joked. Kay says morphing toys may come even sooner than 2050, especially if there is a major breakthrough in nanomaterials research.

Frog Design

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This Smart Play toy would use a flexible OLED display that’s super-crisp. For example, a doll could change color and design when a child taps the doll onto a piece of clothing (or on another doll). Or, the doll could mimic any background object, say when the child turns the doll to “see” the fabric.

Frog Design

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Digital morphing could become a cottage industry – once toys act like apps on your smartphone, developers could release new mods online.

Kids could tap on posters at the mall or join a site similar to Second Life (remember that?) that extols (aka, sells) the virtues of toy transmogrification. The toy might work using nanoparticles that can change color, shape, and size on a whim.

Frog Design

Soft Paper

Mark Zuckerberg will love this one. Flexible displays always seem to be stuck on a TBD list. This flexible material, made of OLED, will replace most paper. The electrical charge will occur when the paper flexes. The soft paper will make data sharing more visual and physical, less about which gadget you own.

“Finally, an iPad in your pocket: big when you want to look at it, small when you want to carry it,” says Nielsen. “This solves a huge need and will become popular quickly once the tech has been perfected.”

Frog Design

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In a school setting, soft paper would contain assignments for each class -- transmitted wirelessly from the teacher. As students work together, they could share content and compare their work. The digital paper would be so inexpensive the sheets could be used in any school or at the office.

Frog Designs

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Sheets could communicate with each other wirelessly, forming a continuity between them. For example, if you re-shuffle papers, the displayed data would understand the new organization and re-configure automatically. Page numbers (and a table of contents) would be a sign of more archaic times.

Frog Design

Digital DNA

Forget plastic surgery – or even make-up. Using an in-home appliance, women (or men) could interact with a touchscreen mirror that changes how you look with the touch of a button. For example, you can try a different color for your eyes, your skin tone, or even the length of your eyelashes.

Frog Design

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Once you’ve seen the “new you” in the mirror, you can step into a DNA re-sequencing machine. Scientists will know how to make the minor adjustments to your DNA for instant results. Once you have programmed your look, it will stay active until the next time you step into the DNA sequencer.

Frog Design

EXCLUSIVE: The gadgets of 2025: A vision of the future

Technology defines our culture -- in the future, it will define it even more. For three days, FoxNews.com met with Frog, the global design and innovation firm in San Francisco that helped shape the original Mac computers and many of the most famous gadgets we use. What follows are the concepts Frog developed after "frogthink" with their most brilliant minds.

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