5 Sci-fi Devices That Have Yet to Hit the Market

When some people imagine the future, they think of humanoid robots trying to take over the world. These devices show that the future is much more fun and less deadly than that. Check out these 5 sci-fi devices to learn how technology will impact your future in positive ways.

Nest Thermostat Knows Your Preferences Better Than You Do

Nest Thermostat

The Nest thermostat lets you take a zen approach to lowering your energy bills and feeling more comfortable: by letting go and living life, you can actually take greater control.

Nest learns about the way you live your life. If you get up at 7 AM during the week but like to sleep in on Saturdays, it will learn that and adjust the temperature to fit your schedule. That way, you wake up to a warm (or cool) house on workdays but you don’t waste energy on climate control when you’re snuggled under the blankets.

The Nest thermostat also lets you adjust the temperature from anywhere by using a smartphone app; it keeps track of energy consumption so you can view your home’s usage; and it has a cool futuristic look. You did know that looking cool will still be important in the future, right?

Virtual Reality Finally Becomes More Like Actual Reality

Oculus Rift

Engineers have been playing with virtual reality for decades, but no one has really gotten it right. It always ends up looking much more virtual real. With the Oculus Rift, virtual reality finally feels more like actual reality.

What’s so special about the Oculus Rift?

Here are just a few features that make it better than any other virtual reality system:

  • The glasses fill your whole view and block out the real world, making it more immersive

  • It renders images so quickly that you don’t notice any latency. When you move your head, the world moves with it

  • Look up, look down, even tilt your head. Oculus Rift’s gyro sensors respond accordingly

  • When your hand or arm enters your field of vision, you see it in the virtual world

If you’re a gamer, then Oculus Rift will change the way you interact with virtual environments and characters. There are also “practical” applications (as if anything could be more practical than an awesome gaming experience). Imagine a class of doctors performing virtual surgeries or a group of soldiers learning to communicate with each other taking enemy fire.

Google Glass: The World Has Never Looked More Informative

Google Glasses

Remember how amazing it was when you could carry an ultrabook with you anywhere you went? What if you could actually put that technology into a pair of glasses that gave you instant access to a whole world of information?

Google Glass makes that possible. The lightweight glasses provide a screen that you can use to:

  • see Twitter updates

  • communicate with friends on Google+

  • view directions without taking your eyes off of… well, anything

  • get weather updates

  • take photos of what you see

This is essentially what sci-fi movies have been promising for decades. Thanks to Google, Hollywood will finally keep one of its promises.

Google has already made and distributed early versions of Google Glass to a select few. One journalist writing for the San Francisco Chronicle points out that the glasses don’t work very well for people who already wear glasses. That’s obviously an obstacle. Imagine a world, though, wear you don’t need prescription lenses. Maybe in the future a product like Google Glass will automatically adjust to fit your eyesight.

Drivers? Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Drivers

Google's self-driving cars

Google has also been hard at work on driverless cars. These self-driving vehicles use sensors and information from Google Maps to stay on track. As of right now, Google’s self-driving cars have only been involved in accidents with humans sitting behind their wheels.

The real advantage of self-driving cars, in other words, isn’t that you get to nap on your way to work or that you never have to worry about finding a designated driver after a long night out. The great thing is that computers make fewer mistakes than humans.

State and federal regulators worry that self-driving cars could pose hazards. That’s possible, but it’s unlikely. Just think:

  • Computers don’t get distracted by loud music, phone conversations, and attractive people walking down the road on spring days (humans do all of those things)

  • Computers can communicate with each other to avoid accidents and make better trip plans to keep traffic flowing (humans just flip each other off and yell at each other)

  • If an accident does occur, computers can alert authorities and medical professionals for assistance (humans just bleed and get woozy)

Google thinks it can release a consumer-ready car in three to five years. Some states have already made them legal. The rest of the world will just have to catch up.

3D Printers Make Pretty Much Any Thing Possible

3D Printers

If you have some engineering experience, you can build a fairly simple 3D printer now. A kit, however, will cost about $2,000 and you’ll need 8-16 hours of freetime to put it together and learn the basic instructions.

Give innovative the companies a few more years, though, and you could have a 3D printer at home without spending quite as much money.

Everyone’s talking about how 3D printers will change manufacturing (print-on-demand could lower prices and reduce waste), but you don’t hear nearly as many discussions focused on how consumers will use the technology. Some of the things that people have already printed include:

  • Candy

  • Dresses

  • Toys

  • Vinyl records

The only limitations are your imagination, access to source materials, and ability to learn how to create designs in 3D. Outside of those things, though, you could use a 3D printer to build just about anything.

Even with all of this sci-fi technology coming out, we still don’t have flying cars or hoverboards. What are some devices that you want engineers to start working on?