1. VIRTUAL REALITY
Within a few years, the next generation of VR goggles will be smaller, less obtrusive, and generate wider fields-of-view than current iterations. And the nature of the VR experience will evolve. Gaming can only carry the industry so far—there will need to be original, engaging, and flat-out stunning visual experiences (like movies) to support the medium. Once that happens and the appeal broadens, the gear will become even more accessible, whether in home use or commercial experiences in dedicated VR theaters.
2. ELECTRIC CARS
Even the two electric cars that claim to be for the mass market—the forthcoming Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt—will exceed $30,000. But once those prices come down to the $20,000 to $25,000 range, and once the charging infrastructure is faster and more ubiquitous, they’ll truly start to draw more eyes. Researchers predict that the electric-vehicle market will consume 35 percent of new car sales by 2040. With the continued widespread adoption of hybridization—even among the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, and McLaren—it’s a pretty good bet your own car will be at least “electrified,” if not fully electric, in 10 years.
3. ELECTRIC MOBILITY
While electric vehicles are huge investments with complicated infrastructure demands, electric scooters and skateboards are the precise opposite—affordable, long-range, wildly practical, and readily adaptable to a variety of lifestyles. Compact electric scooters allow you to hop all around town (at up to 20 miles per hour) without paying for public transit or having to park your car. Prices are in the $1,000 range for all of these, but they’ll come down—and if you replace vehicular or transit options with the tech, it’ll likely pay for itself in less than a year.
4. BATTERY POWER
Battery-powered generators (for camping trips, tailgating, and other mobile-power needs) will be more appealing than gasoline-powered generators—the Generatr 1200 from EnerPlex, for instance, can already be charged via solar panels and operate televisions and refrigerators—and home-power stations such as Tesla’s own Powerwall will keep juice flowing during power outages at home.
5. SMART WATCHES
By some accounts, Apple’s Watch was met with tepid response from consumers. On the other hand, the company’s revenues have skyrocketed since the product’s launch in 2014. As Apple improves its own Watch, its competitors are continuing to hone their products as well. In a few years from now, as the second-generation products more seamlessly sync up with your digital world, we expect to see smart watches on everyone’s wrist.
6. 3D PRINTING
Eventually, 3D printing technology will be available locally through retailers. In fact, Staples and the UPS Store have already begun offering the service. It’s something you may use just a few times a year, but when you do, it will be an unbelievably convenient and cool experience—just shoot over the file for what you need, then go pick it up when it’s ready.
7. SELF-DRIVING CARS
Recently, Tesla has had a few high-profile accidents centered on its semi-autonomous drive technology and Mercedes is taking heat for confusing aspects of its own semi-autonomous drive system in its E-Class sedan. Autonomous driving, however, remains an unbelievably important—and completely unstoppable. Pilot programs are already underway to advance semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicular technology across the board, including advanced sensing and decision-making. It’s safe to say that within a decade, you’ll be using it in some form or another.
8. DRONE DELIVERY
Yes, Google and Amazon are developing drones that will be able to deliver products within minutes of an order being placed. But there are lots of bugs to work out—like how to do this safely and how to actually deposit the product. There’s a very cool program DHL recently implemented: a station-to-station autonomous drone delivery program in the German Alps. Customers come up to a robotic base station, insert their package, and it’s automatically loaded onto a vertical-lift drone that converts to a fixed-wing aircraft that can fly 5 miles over the mountains, in mixed weather conditions, to a matching base-station in another town.
9. AUGMENTED REALITY
Google Glass flopped big-time when it landed a few years ago. That’s partially because the augmented-reality glasses looked supremely dorky, and also because the company rolled out the glasses to tech-hipsters instead of people who could see immediate benefits to the tech, like pilots, military personnel, and doctors. But augmented reality—systems that overlay digital data on real-world scenes, as opposed to the completely computer-generated virtual reality—is going to come back. And even gamers will appreciate the new, more compact vision devices that will contain cool new effects and a lower price.
Right now, our long-awaited army of robotic man servants remains limited to small vacuums. Five or 10 years from now, there’s no guarantee that things will get that much better—but there’s also no guarantee that they won’t.
Robotics is ripe for a few surprises, as they could be patrolling our houses or watching our kids. Possibly—we already have them zipping around warehouses and keeping an eye on parking garages. They don’t have to be mobile, either. They can be stationary, like the laundry-folding bot being developed by FoldiMate which could be available in the coming months.
And if you want a walking, talking buddy who you can arm-wrestle and you’ll put away the dishes? Ten years, max!