Automated cars went from flying under the radar to being prevalent in the media in just a few short months. But sometimes that is the way innovation works—merely a lone concept one day, and before you know it, many companies have a prototype underway.
Innovation can be trendy. Innovation can solve problems. Innovation can help people. Over the next half-century, we need to see invention ideas which bring high tech into the average home, further develop existing inventions, and improve quality of life. Here are a few ideas:
Environmental Impact Monitoring
There is no denying, humans make an impact on the world around us, and generally, it’s not in a positive way. Part of the problem is how easy it is to flick your cigarette on the ground or throw an old TV out with the trash without any feedback on how those actions impact the environment. An educational, informational tool which can measure environment-harming behaviors and provide personal data in an easily consumable manner would educate people on these matters and hopefully influence them to change their habits.
Affordable Virtual Reality
More than 67 percent of U.S. households have a video game console. Since their creation in the 1980s, video games have become available to the middle class because of their lowered price point. Virtual reality video games are not far off, but they are certainly far from being affordable for the average U.S. household. Microsoft HoloLens and Oculus Rift are just two of the prevalent models, but each will come with a hefty price tag, as is true for any new piece of high-tech gear. When virtual reality consoles are widely available and less expensive, they can be used for far more than just casual gaming. Virtual reality could be used for job training, education, therapy, exercise, and other activities when it is feasible for the general public.
Personal 3D Printers
Everyone has a creative streak. How often have you thought of a creative idea, but didn’t have the resources to produce it yourself? 3D printing has made it possible for creatives and DIYers to turn sketches and concepts into actual objects, as well as leading the way for medical, manufacturing, education, and infrastructural advances. 3D printers can now be found at colleges and studios such as TechShop, but in the future, it would be encouraging to see 3D printers in common households as regular computer printers can be found today. Crafting with your children, fixing a broken appliance, decorating your house, and other hobbies could be possible completely in-home with the use of a personal 3D printer.
Durable Cell Phones
Smartphones are amazing in many ways. You have unlimited information at your fingertips, and you can contact someone halfway around the world with just the touch of a button. One way smartphones are not so amazing, however, is their lack of durability. Have you ever broken your smartphone’s glass screen or maybe spilled some water on it and experienced irreversible liquid damage? It’s very frustrating how such an innovative, expensive, and essential piece of technology can be damaged beyond repair because you tripped over your cat and dropped your phone three feet onto the floor. Although there are some durable phones and ultra-resistant phone cases such as Lifeproof on the market right now, there is a need for smart phones which are completely resistant from cracks, water, heat, and shock damage as the standard — instead of the exception.
Clean Water Resources
Access to clean water is important and often overlooked by people who come about it easily. To the billions of people in impoverished nations who suffer from unclean water, however, it is a daily struggle. Although there have been many proposed innovations for clean water, in the next 50 years, I’d like to see an inexpensive invention which allows for convenient cleaning of water so citizens of impoverished nations have access to clean water. Many developing countries are slowly catching up in terms of technology and gadgets but are still suffering when it comes to everyday necessities. An invention which assists with water purification would be very helpful in impoverished nations.