Electric power will be sent from place to place without wires.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
What's ahead for the next 25 years? You might be surprised

Dec 30, 2007

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, The Post-Standard

   Personal rocket cars? TVs implanted in your skull?
   Hardly. But after writing about technology for 25 years, I'm excited about what the next quarter century will bring.
   Here are 10 changes I see coming.
   1. Wireless EVERYTHING. Forget the word "wireless" even. (Did you know radio used to be called "wireless"?) Electric power will be sent from place to place without wires, and everything you now use wires and cables for -- even your mom's space heater -- will run by this no-wire power connection.
   2. Electric cars that are totally electric. They'll recharge their batteries through wireless power distribution, too. A quarter century from now, people will laugh at today's hybrid cars -- so primitive! Imagine, they'll say, using electric motors (the most efficient kind of propulsion ever invented) only some of the time!
   3. Single-use computers that cost what candy bars cost today -- and are just as small. You'll add one to your cart while in the checkout line at the supermarket. You'll toss them out when you want one that's a different color -- or when the one you bought last Tuesday gets overrun by viruses. The displays will be holographic, just like the ones in the "Star Trek" series, and you'll simply speak into the projected display to have it type what you are saying.
   4. Credit cards that track what you do. Send-and-receive sensors in each card in your wallet will react with sensors in most big stores to show you personalized signs aimed only at you. The store will know what items you've already bought and what your credit limit is. It will even know where you ate that evening and whether you are allergic to chocolate.
   5. Newspapers that work a little like the ones in Harry Potter movies, showing moving images instead of still pictures. But there's more: 25 years from now, you'll be reading a four-page section that displays different news (Local, Sports, World and so on) based on what you want to read at the time. Press your finger on the word "Local" at the upper right and the newspaper (made from what we now call "electronic paper") will fill itself with local news, for example. (My colleagues need not worry; newspaper editors will still be needed to put each story into the matrix.)
   6. GPS chips that are embedded in just about everything. Global positioning systems in shoes will keep track of where you are, and tell parents at all times where their kids are.
   7. Beaming GPS transponders that will be mandatory in all vehicles. Screens in each vehicle will show where all other vehicles in the same area are located, and will instantly pinpoint accidents or traffic jams and reroute drivers.
   8. A cell phone that doubles as a contact lens. Wave conduction will pick up your voice and carry the conversation to your inner ears.
   9. Helium pumps at most hardware stores that you will use to pump up the tires on your car or bike. Your car or bike will weigh less and use less energy.
   10. Web EVERTHING. All contact will initiate on the Web and only rarely be followed up by personal one-on-one stuff. Wall-size holograms will allow us to mingle (alas, without touching) and should help eliminate the loneliness of "blife," as everyone will call Web life 25 years from now.