In the ever-evolving conversation about the coolest technological advances, things like the metaverse, AI-generated images and ChatGPT tend to speak the loudest. But they’re far from the only things to get excited about.
Keep reading to discover some emerging technologies to keep an eye out for in 2023 and beyond!
1. Flying cars
Yep, you read that right – actual flying cars could soon become a reality. At CES 2023, US company ASKA™ unveiled a full-scale, functional prototype of the ASKA™ A5 – the world’s first drive-and-fly car. The four-seater SUV-sized car is fully electric with a flight range of 250 miles and flight speed of 150mph. The vehicle would allow door-to-door transportation, and doesn’t require an air terminal to take off as it does so vertically, akin to a helicopter.
The car’s wings stay folded while driving and then unfold when ready to take off. Whilst not quite approved for commercial use yet, ASKA™ hope to have the car on the road and in the skies by 2026, and are even planning an on-demand service: think flying Ubers!
2. Screenless displays
The futuristic holograms of the Sci-Fi genre may not be as far-fetched as they seem, with a few forms of screenless display technology emerging over the last decade. From heads-up displays (HUD) which help you stay focused on the road to the more conceptual retinal displays which directly project images onto your retina, this sector is full of exciting new technologies which could make way for some seriously cool gadgets.
Researchers are even working on a way to bypass your eyes entirely, and transmit information directly to your brain!
Perhaps eerily, necrobotics involve exactly what you’d think from the name: the concept uses dead organisms as robotic components. In 2022, researchers published a paper detailing their findings when they repurposed the bodies of dead spiders into claw machines capable of picking up another dead spider!
The field takes advantage of the incredibly intricate designs nature has given various insects, which can be virtually impossible to replicate in any other way. The wolf spiders used in this experiment were particularly effective at picking up small and oddly shaped objects.
Whilst you won’t be using a tarantula instead of tongs any time soon, further research into necrobotics could teach us a lot about how the bodies of insects actually work and allow for further advancements in the world of robotics.
4. Smart glasses
Back in 2013, smart glasses arrived on the scene in the form of Google Glass. The industry was becoming more and more excited about the prospect of hands-free technology, and Google Glass was essentially a wearable AR system which used voice and motion controls to allow users to make phone calls, access social media, take photos and more.
However, Google Glass sold poorly upon release with consumers citing the $1500 price tag, glitches and bugs, plus a clunky design as the main detractors. Google Glass flopped, and was forgotten by many.
Fast forward to 2023, and a lot of progress has been made in the smart glasses world. With valuable lessons learned from Google’s failure a decade before, companies such as Meta, Amazon, Snapchat and even Google themselves have released new and improved versions of smart glasses, with much more stylish designs and even more exciting features. Each company’s release is tailored to their market niche, with Amazon’s Echo Frames giving you hands-free access to Alexa, Snap’s Spectacles allowing you to capture 3D videos and images, and Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories connecting with their apps including Facebook and Spotify.
With many of these releases tapping into the booming AR and VR market, we can’t wait to see what becomes available for the average consumer!
5. Intelligent exoskeletons
Robotic exoskeletons have been around for a little while now, with passive (non-powered) exoskeletons such as Noonee’s Chairless Chair and suitX’s occupational exoskeletons available for purchase. Whilst these products may have been the stuff of science fiction before their release, the field is quickly advancing, with active (powered) and AI-based exoskeletons beginning to emerge.
These exoskeletons have many applications, from preventing repetitive strain injuries in the workplace to allowing those with mobility impairments to walk, like Wandercraft’s Atalante X. Intelligent exoskeletons are designed to mimic the abilities of humans through the use of sensors, computers and control systems. Marsi Bionics’ ATLAS 2030 has been designed specifically for the physical therapy of children, using AI to adapt to their individual needs and respond to their intention to move.
6. Plastic-eating robot fish
It’s no secret that plastic pollution has spiralled into a huge problem worldwide. The main issue with plastic is that it takes centuries to decompose – and even then, the plastic isn’t disappearing completely. Instead, plastic bottles, bags and straws are breaking down into hard-to-detect micro and nanoplastics. Scarily, the average person is estimated to consume over 100,000 microplastic particles every year, and their presence has even been detected in ice from the most remote parts of the Arctic Ocean.
Scientists from Sichuan University have been working on technology which could one day help combat this pollution. Their solution involves tiny, lightweight robot fish, just over a centimetre in size, which absorb pollutants such as microplastics as they swim along according to the direction of NIR (near-infrared) light.
The fish are biocompatible, so they won’t cause harm to other, larger fish who may be looking for a snack. At the moment, they’re able to collect microplastics in shallow water, and their developers are working on their ability to do the same in deeper water.
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Written by Bethany Piper
Copywriter | ASPEKT
March 13th, 2023