They periodically forecast what products will have the greatest impact on life and in the office in years to come. Examples include the flat-screen TVs that hang from the wall, devices to track where our children are, and instant medical reports at home.
Originally forecast in 1995, the experts say these will be the most successful technology-based products developed by 2009.
Genetaceuticals — Geneticsbased medical treatments will cure or mitigate the effects of various human diseases and disorders, including pharmaceutical treatments for osteoporosis, MS, cystic fibrosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Personalized computers — You home or office computer will be replaced by a very powerful “personalized” computer that will recognize your voice and follow your voice commands. It will include a variety of security and service tools to personalize the computer. The computer will be mobile and versatile, sending and receiving wireless data, and accessing information from remote sites.
Multifuel cars — Vehicles will use combinations of various fuels, such as reformulated gasoline, electricity, and natural gas to obtain maximum efficiency and meet stringent environmental standards. Vehicles may carry more than one fuel type, with an onboard computer conducting ongoing analyses of travel conditions to calculate fuel mixtures for maximum fuel efficiency and performance.
Next-generation TV — TVs will be large, flat, and hang on the wall. It will be a digital, high-definition model with clarity approaching that of a movie screen. The TVs will be much more than just an entertainment device; it will also be used as a computer monitor capable of networking with other computers as an interactive, videoconferencing device.
Cyber cash — Elec tronic money will be used to buy everything from soda in a vending machine to making an international transaction over your computer. These credit-card-size smart cards will not only replace cash, but house and car keys as well.
Home health monitors — These simple-to-use devices will be a noninvasive and relatively inexpensive way to monitoring health conditions at home. Such things as liver functions, ovulation, levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, sugar, hormones, water, salt, and potassium, may be monitored as easily as weight is now tracked by bathroom scales.
Smart maps and tracking devices — Getting “there” will be easier with the widespread use of Global positioning systems. They will also be used to prevent crime by tracking the exact location of cars and valuables. People also will be able to track the exact location of children and pets.
Smart materials — New materials for construction and other uses will be able to give off warnings when they detect excessive stress. For example, materials in bridges or office buildings could change color if they become unsafe and car parts could warn users of approaching breakdowns.
Weight-control and antiaging products — While the Fountain of Youth still hasn’t been found, new products could make these a little less traumatic. New developments, many from genetic research, might include weightcontrol drugs that use the body’s natural weight-control mechanisms, wrinkle creams that actually work, foods with enhanced nutrients, and an effective cure for baldness.
Never-owned products — Major household appliances, such as furnaces, air conditioners, washers, dryers, and water heaters will be leased instead of purchased. This trend will be spurred by environmental concerns and regulations, cost, and the increasing speed of technology, which causes products to become obsolete quicker.