The 2014 technology race is on and like jockeys at the Aintree Grand National everybody wants their horse be the first past the winning post. However instead of steering horses over the jumps, these companies are in a race to bring you ‘tech’ you just can’t live without.
So what’s likely to happen in the next year? Well everybody’s talking watches and Google glasses, but does that really get you excited? Apple make some sexy tech, but you can’t wear an iPad to the ball, so how about ‘Smart Fabrics’? Smart fabrics are materials with built in flexible electronics and they are about to change the fashion industry for ever.
You know what it’s like, you’ve just bought that fabulous outfit and when it comes time to wear it, the weather takes a turn for the worse. It’s cold and you have to cover it up. That’s about to become a thing of the past as flexible electronics will allow designers to install smart electronics that will warm you up without having to cover up and you will be able to go to the ball looking your very best.
Another top tip, look out for ties and cravats as they will soon come with built in music players and the ability to charge electronic devices. You're not likely to see any of this in the next 12 months, but lots of companies are working on these devices and wearable computing is the way forward.
On the Medical front, Biosensors are the next big thing, from implants to wearable chips, expect your doctor to call you some time soon, especially if you suffer from a long term illness like diabetes. This could make calling for a surgery appointment almost a thing of the past.
Robotic suits and body parts are already with us with the Japanese leading the way with tech that allows elderly people to carry on working and performing tasks that were once well beyond their capabilities. They have a robot suit known as HAL which can be described as a cyborg type robot that can help to supplement, expand or improve a person’s physical capability.
How does this suit work? When you attempt to move, the brain sends nerve signals to the muscles via motoneurons. HAL recognises these signals on the surface of the skin through special sensors and converts this signal into controlled movements that work in unison with your own muscle movement. HAL can also be expected to be used in rehabilitation, ADL support for disabled people, heavy labour support and rescue support at disaster sites.
Robotic arms are another innovation that are battery powered and though a bit on the big side, they can increase the wearer’s strength by up to 40 pounds. At the moment these are still quite expensive, but as with all tech, the price will come down.
Another exciting example is the amazing Ekso Bionics exoskeleton. This was recently fitted to a man who had been paralysed from the chest down and was told by the medics he would never walk again. With the support of the exoskeleton he was able to prove them wrong and this should give hope to millions of people worldwide.
These are just a few of the fantastic technological developments you can expect to see in the very near future, there is no doubt that the world will become a more exciting place in the years to come.
Simone Wright-Eddison is the content editor for www.grand-national.me.uk, the fifth most popular horse racing website in the United Kingdom according to Hitwise data. You can connect with Simone on her Grand National Facebook fan page.