10 Feb 2017
tech gadgets

The Tech That’s Ready To Make The Great Leap Forward

There’s a quote attributed to Bill Gates on the Internet (so it must be true) which says that “most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten”. This is particularly true in the tech industry, where it’s hard to predict how much development an idea needs to overcome whatever hurdles stand between it going mainstream. Gauging how quickly a successful disruption can change everything is equally difficult.

This is why certain capabilities, such as virtual reality, feel as if they have been on the horizon for yonks. And why the world we live in now is vastly different to the one a decade or so, when we saw the release of the first iPhone.

If you read the analyst predictions for technology trends in 2017, there was a certain vibe along the lines of “X is going to make the jump into the mainstream this year, and this time, we really mean it”. So, while there may be a certain gloominess to the tone of the news of late, if you’re a fan of gadgets, gizmos and Back to the Future, this week brought news of some seriously snazzy tech developments. Ones that you’ll be able to buy in the next year. (Ok, maybe 10).

Helping Hand On Wheels

Piaggio, the minds behind the Vespa announced Gita, a two-wheeled personal cargo bot that follows humans around carrying their goodies. (Get out of town! I need one. Right. Now.) The orb-shaped robot can follow us, or even travel on its own via familiar pathways. It hauls groceries – or anything up to 18kg – and travels at walking pace for up to eight hours.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the moment I have my arms full with shopping bags is when my toddler decides walking ain’t for her. Cue me attempting to put her on my shoulders so my hands are still free to carry my seventeen bags. Now, if I had a Gita, I could put my toddler in there! (That was a joke, people.)

Seriously, though, there are some pretty useful applications, particularly in a world where our population is ageing and we’re encouraged to do more walking and less driving. I’d certainly walk to the shops more if I didn’t have to lug my goodies home.

Let’s Fly Home, James

While the Vespa team solves our first-world problems, Uber has hired a NASA engineer for its flying car initiative. The project, Uber Elevate, isn’t building its own cars just yet but is investigating VTOL, Vertical Takeoff and Landing technology.

What I find impressive is that ex-NASA engineer Mark Moore is so passionate about the mission that he left NASA just one year before becoming eligible for retirement!

There are definitely things afoot in the flying car space. Boeing has promised a flying taxi prototype by the end of 2017. That said, there have been plenty-a-promise of a flying car over the years and we’re yet to see one.  In fact, one Gizmodo journalist was so cynical of Aeromobil’s 2015 promise to release a flying car by 2017 that he vowed to eat the sun if they delivered.

The Devil Wears Data

Then there’s the Data_Dress, an outfit designed just for you based on your personal data. I’ve got to say, I drink the Kool-Aid on most new tech but this one has lost me. H&M Group’s fashion house partnered with Google to develop an Android App that learns about the user (ahem, collects a shiteload of data) and designs a dress “that reflects the way they live their lives”.

I guess it’s cool that it’s unique to you – just like those elaborate name drawings you can get done at the markets – but how much money and data are you going to have to part with to get a dress you may or may not like? Like a lot of things in tech, sometimes it’s not about whether you need it or even want it, it’s the appeal that you can be the first to have it. Let’s see if I’m right or wrong in 10 years.

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