Future technology: 22 ideas about to change our world

The future – five important questions answered

We asked some famous faces from the world of science and technology what they expect from the future – here’s what they had to say.

What scientific or technological advance worries you the most?

Although I’m sure that drones can do lots of exciting and useful things, I think it would be a huge shame to fill the sky with them. Even now, we really don’t appreciate the sky enough – it’s the last great expanse of free and open space in our society. Drones are a fairly insidious technology – their numbers will grow slowly until they’re everywhere. They’re also going to reflect the huge, ongoing battle between security and privacy.

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DR HELEN CZERSKI
Experimental physicist and BBC presenter

What film idea would you like to see come true?

If we’re talking about technologies that rely on current solid science, time machines are out. I think I’d like any gadget that relies on the weirdness and power of quantum physics, so a working quantum computer or, better still, a quantum teleporter. Although I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at a traversable Lorentzian wormhole, like we saw in the film Interstellar.

PROF JIM AL-KHALILI
Physics professor and BBC presenter

What problem needs to be solved most urgently?

While microchips have become 10,000 times more powerful since the mid-1980s, battery capacity has increased by barely 10 per cent. Yet batteries are vital for everything from mobile tech to the solar economy. Anyone who comes up with cheap, stable, rechargeable battery with hefty capacity will make out like a bandit – and help save the planet.

ROBERT MATTHEWS
Focus science consultant

What new gadget are you most excited about?

Virtual reality. I demonstrated it on Tomorrow’s World in the 1980s when it was in its absolute infancy, so it’s extraordinary to see the way it’s now being used : gaming, scientific visualisation, education, fashion, healthcare. The technology is becoming more and more affordable and much more accessible, so it will be fascinating to see what happens over the next five years.

MAGGIE PHILBIN
Tech reporter and former Tomorrow’s World presenter

What idea currently in development has the most potential?

A multipurpose handheld medical device that can plug into a mobile phone and carry out blood, urine and saliva tests would be a huge breakthrough. It would be able to detect conditions such as malaria, typhoid, anaemia and diabetes, potentially saving millions of lives in regions without easy access to medical facilities.

PROF DANIELLE GEORGE
Radio frequency engineer and presenter of the ‘How To Hack Your Home’ Christmas lectures

Floating farms, brain wave passwords, and coffee-powered cars are just some of the 22 incredible inventions and innovations that will shape our future.

This article has been edited for the web. The original version of this article appears in the September 2015 issue of BBC Focus magazine.


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