Jan 24, 2017
Fancy a VR headset no-one knows you’re wearing? Or a droid that can hold a conversation and field your calls? These latest tech concepts offer new realities.
Virtual Retinal Displays
Virtual reality headsets are already here and while Microsoft isn’t racing its HoloLens to market, augmented reality is so useful that a head-mounted display (HMD) seems inevitable. The catch is that people don’t want conspicuous HMDs so perhaps the next step is the virtual retinal display (VRD), which various tech companies have been investigating for the past few years. This actually “paints” the image directly onto your retina. In theory, a VRD could be inconspicuously built into the frame of your glasses to offer a perfectly private stream of information and images without anyone noticing.
For the past decade or so, the smartphone hasn’t changed much in terms of design but engineers are always working on ways to fix that. Miss your old flip phone? What about a device that you can fold up and slide into your pocket or snap around your wrist to wear as a watch? LG has already developed a wafer-thin 45-centimetre TV display that can be rolled up like a newspaper. Slim, super-light, flexible phones that can be folded, curled, twisted or even stretched to tablet size are the next evolution.
In 2016, Asus surprised everyone when it revealed the intelligent robot Zenbo. This adorable droid is designed to be a home companion. It can place calls, take photos, access the internet and even operate as a universal remote for the living room. There’s no release date but it looks likely to be available in mid-2017, paving the way for a generation of chatty household robots in years to come. If that sounds far-fetched, consider that iRobot, the company behind the self-propelling vacuum cleaner Roomba, has sold more than 15 million robots worldwide. Now imagine one that can read a recipe off the web to you while you cook.
Cut the cables
If you’ve ever forgotten to plug in your phone at night, you’re probably eager for wireless charging. The current technologies available require you to place your device in a specialised charging area and most perform a slow “trickle charge”. But the concept of the dipole coil resonant system (DCRS) might change all that. The DCRS could charge a device from 4.5 metres away. Plus, it could pump out enough juice to power something as big as a TV. We may soon be saying goodbye to the power cord entirely. ￼
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