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Having written a series  on new technology, Penny has ventured further into the future. This pushes the boundaries just that bit further on, some of which are virtually here and others still in the minds of inventors

7. Future Technologies (Part 1)
Part 1: 1-7 / Part 2: 8-13
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Penny writes: “The following article has been written for two reasons: Primarily for my ranting amusement and partly to entertain you as readers of Rochford Life. I’d like to add that the following technologies and their descriptions are mainly theories and/or prototypes put forward by reputable scientific communities based on what already exists and what is going to exist in the future. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank for being a brilliant resource for me, this article and scientific minds across the western scientific board.
Right – let’s begin with a little story. Last week I met with my editor in order to discuss what I have planned for the coming weeks. One pitch stood out more than the others I think, so I pulled out my Giant Purple Notepad and began reading him my research. As I went over each point, his smile grew ever-wider and eventually he started chuckling at what I’d found. I took this as a sign that my ranting this week could use a bit of a lighter touch and that if he found it funny or entertaining – all of you may think the same way too.
So here it is. My fantastic and funny list of future technologies that I think are brilliant, useful...and borderline absurd. I hope that the following inspires you to open your minds to the many possibilities of the future!
1. Holography
Ok. So we have 3G picture phone technology, where one person can call another and see each-other’s faces on phone screens while they talk. We have 3D technology where one doesn’t need glasses in order to view it. What is to stop the commercialisation of holographic projections? All of the (good) science fiction films have them and come on – it looks really cool.

Technically holograms do exist if we’re talking about the 3D aspect but for those of you who have seen Star Wars, the line ‘Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope’ and the image that goes with it should give you an idea of what I’m expecting to be marketed in the next few years.

2. Gesture Based Remote Controls
We already have this, for those of you who own a gaming console (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii), you may have this technology with it, i.e. the Playstation Move or the Kinect. Using these accessories, you can use your body to control what happens on the screen. For example, you can use your hands as virtual weapons (like we used to as kids in the back garden) or jump over obstacles in a sports game, or practically anything along those lines.

Imagine no longer being frustrated with the remote and it’s inevitably low batteries. Imagine just waving your hand at the sky menu on your television and accessing FX to watch True Blood. Imagine how brilliant that would be when Sky starts realising this could be very lucrative for them to partner up with television manufacturers and make this happen...

3. Stem Cell Research
This research is unfortunately a very unpopular and ethically challenged part of science that I will promise to be fragile with. However, I believe that I’ve got to talk about it – because it is a fascinating concept to me.

Basically, stem cells are un-programmed cells inside the human body. They can be taken from a donor and then given to someone who needs them. As they are un-programmed cells, they will then program themselves to others surrounding it, so putting it simply – they can re-grow a part of the body that has been damaged by producing more of themselves through mitosis.

Before anyone refutes this, this is just my understanding of it and I believe that it serves as a basic type of knowledge in this case.
Cells of this type can be taken from several places in the body e.g. the placenta or bone marrow. The potential uses for stem cells are vast, including cures for Alzheimer’s, various cancers, spinal injuries, diabetes, deafness, blindness etc. The possibilities could be endless and completing this research could be the end of certain types of disease for us all. It all sounds pretty awesome to me.
However – we all know that the balance of things is based on having the good and the bad in life.

Foetal stem cells are one of the best ways to get primitive versions of these cells and this presents controversy for a lot of people in the world. Namely the two ways that a specialist can obtain these cells i.e. removing an aborted human foetus or creating, growing and destroying one under scientific protocol.

I’m not going to go into why this is wrong – let your own conscience dictate your thoughts. Even I’m not sure whether it is completely alright to take cells from a foetus. The public do however get a bit carried away and tend to forget that there are other places in the body to take them from. Due to this – stem cell research has certain restrictions based on ethical ignorance from the public and governing bodies.  Hopefully one day this can change and when it does, I hope it changes for the better.

4. Nanorobotics
A brilliant concept that would be excellent in studying things like the atom, or more specifically the workings of the human body. Nanorobotics or ‘nanobots’ as I fondly call them are tiny functional robots that wouldn’t be able to be seen with the naked eye – and would perform things that professionals like doctors cannot do without assistance. For example, imagine a hospital operating room where a doctor could operate on a vital organ, without needed to open someone up.

The little bots would be either controlled or could do your work for you from the inside out or perhaps hunt down cancer cells before they can become a problem. Nanorobotics also include things like sensors that can analyse things on a molecular scale or even nano machines that are simply just tiny in size.

Of course, these bots only exist in science fiction e.g. Michael Crichton’s ‘Prey’ (fantastic book) or at the end of ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith. The designs are purely in the research and development stage at the moment, but expect them to one day become a reality. Perhaps it won’t happen in my lifetime, but it may in my niece’s.

5. The Hoverbike
Don’t you just want one?
These little versions of Harrier jets will have the same basic model for a motorcycle, but have a take-off and landing principle applied so that wheels are now obsolete!

Using propulsion theory and what jets already have, the Hoverbike is now a reality. I know that I mention Avatar a lot, but I was racking my brains as to what the bike looks like in popular culture. It looks like a smaller version of those smaller flying vehicles the military have in the film – as the propulsion needs the bike to be pushed from the ground and maintained at a certain height. It’s around the length of a Harley, with a small seat in the middle and circular propeller holders at the front and back. It looks great, maybe like a new Batmobile or something.

I know that some have been tested during the last couple of years and there is one to be tested very soon by an independent contractor. We are obviously very, very far from a commercial version for you and me, but I can tell you now that those of us who are ridiculously rich or just daredevils, will have the opportunity to ride one in the near future.

6. Smellovision

Don’t snigger. Yes, people have been trying to perfect this from the beginning of television history, to no avail. Apparently though, there is a prototype device that can be fitted to the back of a television that is designed to release thousands of different odours when prompted. Kind of like a monster Glade spritzer.

Don’t you find perfume adverts silly? I do. Ridiculously skinny women, inexplicably loving a perfume bottle or perhaps being enticed by a man wearing a designer fragrance against their will. So, imagine an advert for perfume and the device pumps out a small amount of it for you to test. Or perhaps Delia Smith’s cooking channel giving you a taste of what she’s cooking that day. It will be the new addition to the 4D revolution in technology. Just imagine watching a film, and being able to see, hear, touch and smell what is being shown to you at once.

It sounds like a gimmick to me, but you know that gadget hungry nerds will be clambering over each other to get a whiff of this. Perhaps they will rely on their other four senses and stick to their iPads instead.

7. The Solar Train Tunnel
Belgium is certainly the frontrunner for solar technology. In case you didn’t catch my previous article, solar panels are devices that capture the sun’s energy and then they convert it into power to run every day things inside the home, or inside a vehicle etc. Belgium’s scientific minds and solar energy provider Enfinity have fantastically gone one step further though, by creating a fast-track line tunnel that is lined with over 16,000 panels and it now fully operational.

According to statistics, Antwerp Central Station and the surrounding area will provide solar generated power to approximately 4,000 trains per year going in and out of the station. It is an excellent idea and a promising start to the future – so I can only hope that other countries including our own can follow suit.

One day, hopefully everything will at least be partially run by solar power, or other elemental power. Fingers crossed.

Penny Glen Investigates