Some of these projects are closer to completion than others, but all of them hint at the efficiency, adaptability, and sheer wonder that tomorrow could bring.
While the portable, streamlined coat of J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard will most likely remain a flight of fancy, the realm of “cloaking science” continues to expand. From heat cloaks protecting high-powered computers, to sound-cloaks enhancing the acoustics of concert halls, to magnetic cloaks that hide objects from radar systems, there are almost endless ways to utilise cloaking technology for practical purposes. Much of this technology stems from work with “plasmonic metamaterials,” which allows scientists to manipulate various wavelengths around specific objects, thus making them invisible upon that wavelength.
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It may sound disappointing to hear that actual invisibility cloaks are not high on the scientific pecking order, but the manipulation of light waves could lead to even more beneficial outcomes, like consistent, super-fast internet, and a reinvention of the entire world of electronics. Though of course, research is ongoing.
We could all be very soon bidding adieu to mobile phones that crack when we drop them and to pesky, inflexible e-readers. Numerous companies are currently working on improving and expanding the field of flexible electronics, a move which could revolutionise the entire world of electronic devices. It is expected that Samsung will be the first to deliver on a fully flexible smartphone (complete with flexible transistors and battery), with multiple others to follow.
This technology is being championed in some sectors through the use of graphene, an extremely thin yet extremely strong, light, and flexible sheet of carbon, which may in future replace silicon. Flexible electronics are being pursued primarily for durability and convenience, however there is no denying the childish novelty that owning a bendy phone will provide.
While not as flashy as invisibility cloaks or foldable phones, this developing technology could perhaps become the most widely-used and effective on this list. By adding limestone-producing bacterial spores to concrete granules, scientists can build a self-restoring mechanism into set concrete.
With the inevitable emergence of cracks, and the leakage of corrosive rainwater into the concrete, the bacteria are awakened and feed on the chemically added healing agent, calcium lactate. Nourished in this way, the bacteria form limestone, theoretically repairing the damaged concrete and significantly increasing its service life, saving on the costs of reparations.
The process of ensuring the healing agent is able to survive concrete mixing and setting is a long, and hugely expensive, process, and the testing of this concrete in real-world conditions is expected to take several years. However, for its potential benefits to infrastructure maintenance and cost, this is one technology that will truly (and quite literally) help shape the future.
Why stress about the risks of infection following surgery when surgically-inserted, dissolvable micro-electronics can keep an eye on your wounds for you? Recently published research in the field of “transient electronics” suggest that ultra-thin electronics made of silicon and magnesium oxide, protected by a layer of silk, could be used to heat wounds and therefore protect them from infection. This would take place during the touch-and-go weeks following surgery, following which time the device would melt away naturally.
The potential uses for this technology continue to be explored, with some researchers suggesting such electronics could be used to make computers and mobile phones more environmentally friendly, and increase the effectiveness of solar cells.
As tempting as it may be, try to get the image of the T-1000 from Terminator II out of your head. Scientists in Bristol have recently combined a “shear-thickening” liquid with Kevlar, resulting in the creation of a new bulletproof material. Described by the scientists as “bulletproof custard,” the molecules of the liquid lock together when struck by a bullet, and make the material almost impenetrably thick.
This liquid-enhanced Kevlar could see a strong shift in the body armour used by military personnel, which at present is heavy, layered, and restrictive. While lighter and more convenient, early tests have shown the liquid to be significantly more effective as a form of armour than plain Kevlar, suggesting bullet- and shrapnel-related injuries for soldiers could be reduced in the near future.
Rob Johnson is a media graduate and freelance writer who is a stickler for new technologies, from the PS4 and iPhone5 to the latest knee and hip model advances.
This article is contributed by Rob Johnson and posted by Rizwan Ahmad Author and founder of cyberockk.com, He is a tech blogger from India and he loves to share his thoughts by writing articles on this site to the different topics related to technology world,