As technology continues to advance at a breakneck pace, the everyday person is being given capabilities that would have been unimaginable 10 or 15 years ago. While some technologies, such as smartphones, have more or less matured, others are still developing and changing rapidly as they begin to enter the consumer marketplace. Here are five of today's trending technologies that may radically change the world over the next several years.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a technology that allows parts and objects to be built layer-by-layer on specialized machines. Once exclusive to advanced manufacturing facilities, 3D printing is rapidly becoming available to everyday consumers. Within a few years, it is likely that many consumer goods will be printable on home devices, allowing consumers to become their own manufacturers. 3D printing is also being applied in industrial and construction applications, and may one day supplant traditional manufacturing techniques in the making of almost all goods.
The internet of things, or IoT, refers to an ecosystem of internet-connected devices that can network with one another and monitor the world around them. IoT devices can automate basic home tasks and make life more convenient for consumers. They are also being explored as a way to monitor critical health data, allowing people to know that their health may be at risk before a medical crisis actually arises.
As the world looks for greener energy solutions, solar power is rapidly emerging as a good solution for allowing residential homes to become energy independent. Many new methods of supplying power through solar energy have cropped up in recent years, including solar PPA arrangements, in which developers pay for homes to be equipped with solar panels and then generate revenue from the extra power produced. Thanks to new battery technologies, solar is also becoming more reliable, as power can now be stored and used during periods when the sun isn't out. Consumer-level products, such as roofs made up of solar panel tiles, are also beginning to come onto the market. As solar panels and storage technologies become less expensive and more available, it is very likely that a larger and larger share of homeowners will turn to solar as their main source of electricity.
The computer architecture behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology is also being explored for uses in other fields. From facilitating financial transactions to storing medical data in a secure manner, blockchain is being tested for a wide range of different uses. Thanks to its basic structure, blockchain can facilitate transparent record keeping while at the same time keeping data secure and preventing the tampering that can occur with centralized databases. Although there is a great deal of hype around this technology at the moment, real-world applications of it are almost certain to become more common in the coming years.
Once only used by hobbyists and aerial photographers, drones are quickly becoming useful for actual transportation. Drones powerful enough to carry packages and even people are currently being tested by companies around the world, and some are even beginning to filter into the consumer market. Though there's still a long way to go toward making drones as useful as traditional aircraft, the technology is advancing at a fairly rapid pace.
These are just five of the many technologies that are currently changing every aspect of day-to-day life. Even if you aren't familiar with these technological development yet, there's a good chance that they will become part of your life in the near future.