Technological progress has never moved quicker than right now. Gadgets that could only have been dreamt about a few years ago are starting to become reality – and all of a sudden some of the events and technology characterised by films such as Minority Report don’t look that distant.

Below are a few technologies you can look forward to embracing in the near future…

3D printing

There seems to be less of a need to print these days. Now there is no need to print off boarding passes ahead of a flight, a CV can easily be circulated as a PDF file and I honestly can’t remember the last time I printed a poster or photograph. But that could all change with 3D printers.

3D printers allow you to turn computer generated 3D graphics into real objects by ‘printing’ a special kind of plastic compound instead of ink in exactly the same way you would print a document. They are great for building models and prototypes, like this wrench.

Currently, 3D printers are still home-brew kits for hobbyists to build, but over the next couple of years expect to see them packaged up and on their way into people’s homes and offices.

Electronic paper

What the Kindle and tablet devices have proven is that we are still in love with the printed word, albeit increasingly of the pixel parchment variety. While these devices are great accessories, they’re no substitute for good old-fashioned paper. Paper is still so integral to our every day life that the next logical step is to digitise paper itself.

Researchers in Cambridge are currently in the process of developing malleable, paper-thin glass technology with integrated low energy circuitry that is able to connect to the internet and display digital information. Try to imagine a world of wirelessly connected restaurant place mats, interactive text books, dynamic retail adverts, film trailers embedded in posters, informational food packaging and even responsive wallpaper… the possibilities are endless.

Sensory input

The search behemoth Google has recently showcased its newest tangent in the form of

‘Project Glass,’ aka ‘Google Goggles’.

Project Glass is Google’s working project name for its interactive spectacles (and there was I thinking that we were all going to be wearing Geordi LaForge-style Star Trek headbands over the eyes in the future…)

that are capable of capturing images and video, playing music, acting as a GPS and searching for the nearest San Franciscan coffee shop – helpful if you live in San Francisco. It’s like having your iPhone attached to your face.

Early versions of Google’s glasses are expected to go on sale to eager beavers next year for around $1,500 a pair, with mainstream consumer pairs available within the following 12 months.

Talk to the cloud

The keyboard and mouse are so last century… You’re going to start to hear much more about voice control as an input device in everyday things.

Apple’s Siri and Google Voice Search are only the start of it. Apple recently made a deal with a number of car manufacturers for Siri to be integrated into all their new models from later this year. Siri is also rumoured to play a big part in Apple’s mythical television set, expected by industry watchers to arrive sometime in the next 12 months. Apple aren’t the only ones turning their attention to TVs and cars. Nuance – makers of the popular voice dictation software Dragon Dictate – are betting on us wanting to be able to bark commands to our TVs and cars too.

And it won’t matter whether you speak in broad Brummie or drop your infinitives; the technology is becoming more refined as we interact with ‘the cloud’ more, meaning dialects, colloquialisms and slang are becoming easier for computers to understand.

So even Cheryl Cole will be able to change TV channels or get driving directions to her local tanning salon with just her voice…

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Written by Aaron Gibson // Follow Aaron on  Twitter // Aaron's  Website

Aaron is an unashamed geek-dreamer who spends inordinate amounts of time plotting ways to change the world from behind an Apple screen. Front end web wonder, DJ, champion nappy changer – he is a man of many talents.

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