It’s not a title for a cheesy love song, but a valid question for all of us. As Bob Dylan once wrote:
“For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.”
Yes, the times are truly changing. Gone are the days of hardships and very hard manual labour because machines have helped humans to double the strength and yield of any product imaginable. Some deadly diseases are now eliminated with advancements in medicine, the earth has become “smaller” due to advancements in communications, we’re learning more and more about the other planets in our solar system and the universe as whole as compared to 50-60 years ago. Plus we’re also learning to appreciate and take advantage of alternative/renewable energy in powering our homes, our factories and businesses.
How far will technology advance in 20, 30 and even 50 years from now? How will it affect our lives and how will civilisation adjust to these changes? Will it make more humans adaptable or will it be a world-ending scenario?
Advancements in technology have enabled humans to do things that were previously unimaginable and it has certainly made many everyday tasks easier. How many of us can go for a week without an internet connection or mobile phone reception? Do people take time to memorise anyone’s phone numbers anymore? Technology has made life so convenient for humans, that being without it would be an unimaginable thought. What would happen if we had to go without our gadgets, or how will people cope as technology gets obsolete?
It’s never easy to predict the future, but many futurist still try to make their predictions. There will be some hits and misses. If you have read some predictions for the last 10 or 20 years, you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Let’s start with your house. Progress. It is what it is and there will be a few regular bits and pieces around your home that will not be there in another 10 years or so. If you can remember, the landline or home phone tables and the phone phonebook that comes with your subscription that sat underneath?
Try to picture a living room or a lounge room that can anticipate how many people are coming over to watch Rugby or football on a Friday night & rearranges the furniture to accommodate everyone. A recent report about the future of smart living by Samsung stated the idea of a malleable living space. Floors, walls, ceilings will feature embedded technology, which allows them to change position depending on the activity. This smart home will have the ability to predict, based on regular behaviour.
According to Rebecca Mair, home renovation expert and electrician for electrical accessory brand Clipsal, the next 5 years will be about making our lifestyle simpler and easier. It will be more cost effective and energy efficient. Manual switches are something that she believes that could be phased out. She also stated that within 10 years, anyone will be able to use remote home automaton turn some of the appliances like the dishwasher, washing machine and or your coffee machine. Home security is also another area that will have major changes. Even though fingerprint access to homes sounds tech savvy, it might get ignored in favour for eye tracking or through-phone access as something that future consumers will be able to monitor remotely.
The future looks bright but not everyone is sold to the idea of a future where traditional household items and objects will be replaced with high-tech gadgets. Futurist and consumer trend expert Krsitina Dryza, suggested an anti-connectivity counter trend and predicted a true reversal against the connected home. She argues it is the connection people are seeking within the family. Continuing on, she believes the trend where everything is on the kitchen counter (like your oven toasters, microwave or kettle) will be things of the past as modern technology leads to a consolidation of many kitchen appliances.
Some household appliances likely to be obsolete within the next ten years
1. The Wall Charger
USB is the present, but the push to wireless or cordless living will surely include wireless charging devices which will make people ditch the charging cord entirely. Headphone jacks will also head down the same route, as you see there are already wireless ear buds and earphones available in the market. Some mobile phone manufacturers have already introduced wireless mobile charging.
2. DVD Players
When laserdisc were introduced the slow shift from VHS tapes to LP-sized laserdisc introduced people to true hi-definition viewing. When DVD became the norm, it meant the end of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs and movie rental houses. Now, we have Netflix, presto, Stan and Foxtel streaming in Australia, the future of the DVD player is looking bleak. If you combine Netflix with its Google Chromecast and Apple TV and the present trend in decluttering and minimalism, in a few years, it will be a less fixture on your entertainment system setup.
House locks will get an upgrade – retina scan, access cards and fingers cans will put the humble key on the side.
Since the advent of email, snail mail dying a slow death. Utility bills, grocery offers and personal letters are already being sent via email. Yes, there are still companies offering printed catalogues through snail mail both convenience and how fast letters are being sent and received through email will put the nails to snail mail. But still, for some, receiving a physical letter from someone you love is still the best.
5. Remote Controls
Remote controls will be more sophisticated. Remote controls will be programmed for all your appliances within your house. No more different remote control for different appliances on your table. Plus some mobile phone apps can also be downloaded and be used as your remote control.
6. Alarm Clocks
No more alarm clock to throw every morning because your smartphone has a built in alarm clock. No one would ever throw an expensive mobile phone when the alarm sets off right?
7. Physical Filing Cabinets
Cloud computing. Documents, pictures, audio files and other can be saved and accessed using cloud platforms and other remote servers. No more clunky, rusty and heavy filing cabinets your home and office.
8. Home Office
The home office will be a thing of the past. With many homes becoming an interconnected hub, people will be able to work using a laptop or a tablet from the comforts of their sofa, the bedroom, the balcony or wherever people feel comfortable. With wireless technology and connectivity, it’s already starting to make its mark.
Let’s talk about energy
Many countries around the world are making the shift from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and the US are spearheading these changes. Take a moment to think of this, for every minute the sun releases its energy towards Earth, this one minute solar energy is enough to meet the planet’s power needs for a whole year.
Now consider that energy is harnessed for a whole year. More and more homeowners are harnessing that energy by installing solar PVs in their homes. It helps bring down electricity bills and the carbon footprint. Solar PVs are given and will continue to evolve and advance that will make energy conversion more efficient. Below are some household items that take advantage of solar technology:
1. Solar Water Heaters
It takes lots of electricity just to heat water, now imagine if you have a tank full of water that you need to heat. Solar water heaters are one of the most useful and popular home appliance used for energy saving. It can work anywhere, regardless of any climate and provide sufficient amount of hot water, anytime of the day.
2. Solar Chargers
These nifty chargers are good alternative to standard chargers for many types of electrical devices that require little power. These chargers are affordable and many models offer a universal charger that can be adapted to different products. You can bring it anywhere, and it’s specifically useful in places where no electrical outlet or electricity is available.
3. Solar Lights and Batteries
These items are included in many consumer’s “green” lists. A fully charged solar light can work outdoors for as long as 15 hours, even if the sun is not shining. Using these products is more affordable and are virtually maintenance free.
4. Solar Toys
Solar power is not just applied to utilities and household items. It can also be applied in toys. A number of toy manufacturers are joining the trend by making toys are 100% solar powered. Virtually any toy that needs electricity or needs electrical charging can be now offered in a solar model.
5. Solar Screens
Although the sun gives infinite energy, too much of it can also be bad. Too much heat penetrating the house will make it a virtual oven and to counter it, you need to turn on the air-conditioning system which will eat up power. If you have solar PVs installed already, cooling will not be a problem. You can complement your system by using solar screens reduce too much glare and protect your eyes. It can also protect your furniture from too much exposure from sunlight. It’s a cheap option and good alternative to cloth shades and window blinds.
6. Solar Outdoor Lighting and Fixtures
Solar outdoor lighting, solar devices that can drive rodents and mosquitoes away from your yard. There’s also solar umbrellas that provide light at night and charges the built in battery during the day. The solar panels are integrated into the umbrella’s fabric thus making it invisible to the eye.
7. Solar Pool Heater
This is a practical way of heating your pool or spa. Running water is made to go direct circulation systems through a solar collector, thus the water in your pool and spa will always have the perfect temperature especially during winter.
8. Solar-Powered Air-Conditioning
Absorption chiller air-conditioning units are the most affordable to operate and gives the best ROI among any other air-conditioning system in the world. Solar air conditioning units can be used anywhere where there is good sunshine. It has low maintenance and operating costs.