Published March 19, 2012
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. Maybe Yahoo will 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.
Technology defines our culture, and it will define it even more in the future.
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 popular gadgets we use. Here are the concepts for the future that Frog developed after "frogthink" with their most brilliant brains.
The Digital Urn
One tragedy of the digital age is that seniors are sometimes forgotten. Some people over 70 or 75 tend to be confused by Facebook and Twitter; younger people are so inundated with tech that they live in a deep fog, hardly aware of the aging population.
The answer: a digital urn that would store memories of loved ones in a way that is easier to memorialize.
The two-part system would involve an ear clip that collects and stores brain activity as audio and video. 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.
Roger Kay, a technology analyst with Endpoint Technologies, says the concept might seem a bit depressing, but it’s a step we may need to take. “This will call up high-fidelity memories of a loved one,” he says.
Decades ago, futurists predicted a virtual reality machine would envelop 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.
A better idea: an immersive space 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.”
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.
Kids will get bored in the future – that’s easy to predict! -- and parents will gravitate to any toy that can transform itself in purpose and intent ... something like a Lego Mindstorm without the programming.
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 it onto a piece of clothing (or another doll). Or the doll could mimic any background object, say when the child turns the doll to “see” the fabric.
Nielsen says transforming toys are inevitable – but he suggests they 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.
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,” Nielsen said. “This solves a huge need and will become popular quickly once the tech has been perfected.”
Forget plastic surgery -- or even make-up. Using an in-home appliance, women or men will interact with a touchscreen mirror that will change how you look with the touch of a button. For example, you could try a different eye color, skin tone, or even alter the length of your eyelashes.
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.