From mobile apps designed to track our carbon footprints to temperature-regulating fabrics that make it easier to keep our energy usage down, there are already a host of solutions out there that enable us to live more harmoniously with nature. At Viessmann, we pride ourselves on our innovative products and systems that help to protect the environment, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to explore some of the ways tech will help humans of the future to live greener, more sustainable lives. Here are our predictions…
Expect smart glasses to be a staple accessory of the future human. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook have developed versions of this wearable tech, and the devices are becoming more sophisticated with each product launch. From augmented reality (AR) features that give you a more information-rich view of your surroundings, to text messages that display automatically in your field of vision, these glasses are set to revolutionise the way in which we interact with the web.
Future applications of the technology could impact the way we relate to the environment. For example, these gadgets could provide room temperature readings and detect air pollution levels, and all without you having to lift a finger. The long-term goal among developers is for these devices to replace mobile phones.
From the launch of BBC documentary series Zoo Quest in the 1950s, technology has been connecting people to nature, sparking our imaginations, educating us and raising awareness of important environmental issues. AR is now ushering in a new era of connectivity. Already, you can search for certain animals on Google that will appear in 3D and AR. For example, you can see a tiger roaming around your living room or a python slithering through your office. As well as animals, Google has created 3D and AR renderings of everything from human anatomical structures to cellular structures and cultural heritage sites.
On a more practical level, augmented reality is also transforming the way we interact with various home appliances. AR instruction manuals are taking online user guides up a gear. Simply by scanning appliances, people can access a variety of instructional AR features, such as 3D modelling and informational videos. This tech can be used to explain appliance features, help users set devices up and troubleshoot problems. Whether you want to connect a new coffee machine or understand all the features of a remote control, AR may be available to help.
Expect future humans to use instructional and educational AR much more comprehensively. Every appliance and device around your home will likely have AR functionality, while textbooks will come to life with 3D images and videos, and apps will let you get within what seems like touching distance of all of nature’s wonders.
There’s an app for pretty much everything now, but one area that’s likely to see major growth is our use of so-called ‘green apps’. These are applications that help us to become more conscious of our impact on the world around us. From apps that showcase information on the sustainability of household products, to software that allows us to track our carbon footprints, to apps that make unsold food from supermarkets available to consumers at lower prices, there’s no shortage of innovative applications out there already - and these will proliferate over the coming years.
As well as enabling people to measure their carbon footprints, this technology can help consumers to become more aware of the financial costs associated with running the devices they rely on day-to-day, and it can help them to balance cost and comfort. Smart home systems that include heating controls are an important part of this. They give you precise control over your home environment, helping you to save energy and money while also ensuring rooms stay at a suitable temperature. Smart meters are also key. These in-home displays show consumers their energy usage in pounds and pence - allowing them to keep track of how much certain appliances and activities cost in near real time and making it easier to identify areas where energy savings can be made.
Given the cost of living crisis facing many people, and the strong impetus for action on climate change, expect apps that measure energy usage and the associated costs to become much more widespread and sophisticated. Soon, you might have access to a range of specialist applications that precisely monitor how much energy you’re using in your home. It may even be possible to narrow this down to the cost of using every individual device in your property. For example, you might see that it costs 40p to take a five-minute shower. In turn, this will empower you to make decisions that benefit both the environment and your finances.
There has been a lot of news coverage over recent years on the plight of bees, and on how a drop in the number of these pollinating insects could spell problems for biodiversity and even global food production. Alongside efforts to restore bee populations, innovative scientists have been working on ways to harness tech to assist with pollination. For example, small drones have been fitted with animal hair bristles and coated with a sticky gel that allows them to capture and transfer pollen between plants.
Future iterations of this technology may be able to identify specific flowers for more accurate targeting of pollen, and drones are likely to be much smaller too. These miniature devices could be solar powered, and perhaps even attach to our clothing so that regular people can play an active role in aiding pollination when they’re simply out for walks in nature.
Many people are looking for ways to make their homes more energy efficient, and one way to do this is to use temperature-regulating fabrics. For example, it’s already possible to buy duvets that either heat or cool you as you sleep according to your preferred temperature. These hi-tech sleeping aids allow users to adjust their side of the bed to their temperature specifications by blowing out either warm or cool air. They remove the need to heat or air condition the entire room.
As automatic climatisation fabrics continue to advance, clothes may start to feature this technology, helping wearers to achieve their desired temperature whether they’re indoors or outside, and all without having to reach for their heating or air conditioning controls.
Fast fashion has been big business for decades, but it’s also increasingly becoming an environmental concern. To combat this throwaway culture while still satisfying people’s thirst for new trends, we could be on the precipice of an era of electronic textiles that can change in appearance instantaneously. Researchers have already succeeded in creating a woven material that features an electronic display, smart sensors and energy-harvesting features, all of which are directly embedded in the fibres. The scientists, led by a team at Cambridge University, say that as well as interactive clothes, the technology could lead to applications as diverse as energy-harvesting carpets and curtains that double up as TVs.
In terms of clothes, the future human might have fewer garments in their wardrobe, but an even greater range of possible outfits - thanks to the fact that each garment could be transformed by simply ‘projecting’ a new look onto it electronically.
Major advances in travel have made the world seem a much smaller place, but one barrier that still exists between many people from country to country is the inability to communicate effectively. Applications like Google Translate can help to address the language barrier without requiring people to become fluent in different languages themselves, but scientists are working on something much more profound to tackle the problem. A team at Neuralink, Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company, are working on a chip that will be able to attach to the human brain and, according to Musk’s predictions, help people to communicate in a single global language.
If these predictions turn out to be true, the future human may simply be able to change the settings in their brain chips to speak fluently with people based anywhere in the world.
Many of us already use smartwatches and other wearable tech to monitor various health indicators, such as heart rate and glucose levels. As well as smart watches with monitoring functions, researchers are working on soft stick-on skin patches designed to allow wireless health monitoring while ensuring maximum comfort for the wearer.
The likelihood is this type of technology will become increasingly integrated into our lives, enabling us to keep closer tabs on our general wellbeing, as well as any specific medical problems we may have. It could help everyone to live healthier lives, encouraging us to refocus healthcare efforts on preventative interventions.
Footwear with integrated wheels has been around for hundreds of years, progressing through different eras of roller skates, blades and shoes. But we’re now moving into a whole new epoch when it comes to these accessories. Segway has released electric self-balancing roller shoes that allow people to glide around at more than seven miles per hour.
This sort of technology could become more commonplace and may be incorporated into regular footwear. Offering people a more efficient way to get around than walking, this tech could tie into a possible move away from driving in urban areas as people look for cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternatives to using cars.
The steep rises in fuel costs seen in early 2022 and the generally high cost of commuting for many people will likely feed into this, serving as a major incentive for innovation in the field of urban transport.
What do you predict for the human of the future? Let us know on social using #HumansOfTheFuture.