IF you watch old movies about the future, you’ll notice that when that future arrives, it looks nothing like what the movie-makers envisioned. Usually, real life technology doesn’t advance as fast as what is imagined.
Everything from Lost In Space and Space: 1999 to 2001: A Space Odyssey, they all over-estimated the progress of technology. Blade Runner got it wrong too. Okay, that one is set in 2019, which is still two years away but I’m sure by that time, we still won’t have “replicants” or robots that are indistinguishable from humans.
What that tells us is that it’s really hard to accurately predict technological advancement in a set period of time. Much easier to predict is technological obsolescence. That’s because many of today’s current products or technologies are already showing signs of rapid wear and tear.
Below are some items you probably won’t be seeing much of anymore within a decade.
1. Car mirrors
Many cars already have reverse cameras incorporated into their dashboard monitors. The technology is already in place for all rear mirrors to be replaced by camera-and-display devices which are superior to the old-fashioned mirrors as they can provide a wider view, including blind spots.
In the US, the government has already announced that manufacturers would be required to include back-up cameras in all new cars by May 2018.
This will make these systems commonplace and then, it’s just a matter of time before all car makers follow Tesla’s stated goal of replacing all side-view mirrors with cameras.
2. Charger cables
Mobile phones, digital music players, wireless headphones, wireless keyboard, tablets — all these things carry rechargeable batteries, resulting in a tangled mix of charger cables cluttering up our workspace.
Wireless charging is already available for mobile phones (certain Samsung models, for example), where all you have to do is lay down your device on a charger pad.
Over time, wireless charging technology will continue to improve. Soon enough, not just phones but all other portable devices are bound to be chargeable over the air and won’t require you resting those devices on anything.
They could be in your pocket, charging away wirelessly in the background. Begone, cumbersome power banks!
3. Remote controls
Remote controls are relics of the past which should go away pretty soon and be replaced by voice-activated interfaces. Such technology already exists although it’s still in its nascent form.
Another option for those who don’t quite fancy using their voices for, say, changing TV channels, is the mobile phone. There’s an app for that (well, there’s an app for everything, it seems).
Whatever the case, it doesn’t make any sense in this day and age to have an additional clunky device like a remote control lying around only to be misplaced.
Voice or mobile interfaces are a better idea. Granted, you might sometimes lose your voice but you’re more likely to lose your phone.
4. Point-and-shoot cameras
People don’t really buy dedicated GPS devices anymore because of Waze and Google Maps that reside on your phone. Very few people see any need for dedicated audio recording devices these days because, as they say, there’s an app for that.
But some people are still buying compact cameras despite the fact that all smartphones have built-in cameras. That’s due to a lingering perception that these compact cameras take better quality shots than phone cameras. That’s a myth though.
Phone camera technology has advanced so much that some of the photos taken on smart phones look just as good as those professionally taken on even DSLR cameras.
Just take a look at the various shot-on-an-iPhone billboard ads around the city. With quality like that, why would you bother with a dedicated camera?
5. Thumb drives and portable hard drives
Computers no longer have floppy disc drives or even DVD drives because nobody stores data on such media anymore.
But people do still use thumb drives and portable hard drives to store or transfer data. These are robust, easy-to-use devices for such purposes.
But with cloud storage solutions becoming commonplace and affordable, there really is no need for physical data storage media devices anymore.
Why bother with gadgets that can get lost or damaged when you can just upload or download your data anywhere there’s Internet access (which is almost everywhere now with mobile Internet).
6. Traditional mass media
Terrestrial TV and radio, print magazines and newspapers — these are all forms of mass media that have seen a steady decline in their audience numbers.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of video-based content anymore; they’ll just reside on platforms like YouTube or Facebook which can host recorded and live video.
Similarly, there’ll still be a lot of radio talk shows but most will be in the form of podcasts, which people can download to listen to or stream on demand. And so it is with magazine and newspapers. Rather than read these in print form, consumers will read articles on web portals and apps on their phones.
Most likely the last form of traditional media to be left standing a decade from now are books.
E-books have taken off in the West but statistics and surveys show that even today many people still have a sentimental attachment to printed books. That’s likely to persist for some time before books too succumb to the progress of technology.
7. Keys and passwords
Some of the more modern and luxurious cars today are already keyless. You just press a Start button. And entry to buildings through locked doors can be achieved by punching in some numbers or through some biometric scan of your eyes or thumbprint.
Physical keys are fast on their way out and certainly will be gone within 10 years.
So will passwords, which might come as a surprise given how ubiquitous they are today.
You use a password to login to any web-related services online, bank websites, social media sites, e-mail accounts, premium website. But that soon may pass.
The downside to passwords is that hackers can sometimes find their way through them.
Again, biometrics such as fingerprints, and voice and facial recognition will be the way to go. Those are much harder to bypass than passwords.
8. Car steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals
Yes, we’re looking at driverless cars, which will become a reality within a decade.
While the early incarnations of self-driving cars will probably still have a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals so that humans can override the self-driving system where necessary, some car makers already have plans for cars with none of these things.
These will truly be autonomous cars that are not designed to be driven by humans.
For sure not all cars will be fully autonomous by 2027 but there will be many cars designed in such a way that all seats are for passengers, with none for the driver.
The vehicle will take you to your destination, much like a train or bus, but you will not able to take control of it, which is probably for the better.
It’s undeniable that it’s human mistakes that cause the bulk of road accidents.
Is there any doubt that the fax machine is on its last legs? Faxes were useful when you needed to send something that’s a carbon copy of a physical document.
But these days, you can easily scan any document and send them over the Internet. A scanned document is in a fact a better copy of an actual document than a fax. And scans are in colour. So why fax when you can scan?
But what about situations when the recipient requires some kind of signature? Well, you could print out the document, sign it, scan it and then finally, send it.
Admittedly that’s a cumbersome process. Something easier would be a thumbprint scanner app on your mobile phone that can be used in place of a signature. Again, there’s an app for that, I’m sure.
10. Landline phones
Almost everybody has a smart phone these days and those who still don’t would at least have a basic mobile phone than can be used to make phone calls and send text messages.
That’s certainly good enough to replace the traditional landline phones.
It’s quaint to think of a mobile phone that can only be used for talking and texting but even such a device has more functionality that a landline phone, which can only be used for talking.
Few people bother with landline phones these days and within a decade, they should pretty much disappear in most homes though some offices might still want to have them.