Sep 9, 2016

3 Technology Concepts that Could Shape the Future of Gadgetry

As usual, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was chock full of cool futuristic gadgets, from 8K TVs and OLED laptops to virtual reality goggles and obstacle-avoiding drones. One of the most impressive displays was Samsung's smart clothes, a set of smart exercise clothing that tracks your movement and body contractions. While some of these gadgets are ready to hit the market, others are still in the conceptual stages. Here a few tech concepts still in the prototype phase that should make an impact when they reach the market.

Smart Contact Lenses, Eyewear

In 2014, Samsung filed a patent in South Korea for smart contact lenses as yet another platform to augment reality. The smart contact lenses come equipped with a display, antenna, camera and sensors to detect blinking. The display projects images onto the wearer’s eye, while the camera can be activated with a quick blink to send a signal to the contact lenses' sensors. The smart contact lenses require a connection to upload images to an external mobile device for processing photos.

Samsung’s new smart contact lenses appear to be a tasty appetizer to the company's forthcoming Gear Blink line. Gear Blink will add contact lenses to the smart wearables category that also includes devices like Google Glass, which allows users to take pictures with a quick blink of the eye.

Meantime, Samsung’s VR Gear and Microsoft’s HoloLens both enable users to view distant locations through a holograph, as if the users were right in the room. Google also owns patents for smart solar-powered contact lenses that can analyze the chemical content of the wearer’s tears in order to monitor low blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Car-Charging Tires

With hybrid, electric and solar-powered cars growing in popularity, innovations in car battery technology have become increasingly important. Goodyear has devised a promising new way to recharge car batteries using the heat generated by rolling tires. Unveiled at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show, Goodyear’s BHO3 tire is made of thermo-pizoelectric material that takes the heat generated by tire friction and transforms it into electrical energy. The tire material also absorbs heat and light energy that cars receive while idling and adds this to the car battery’s power reserve.

Goodyear also used the Geneva International Motor Show to unveil a second concept tire with three tubes under the tread and an internal pump to adjust inflation to road conditions. Other innovators, including engineer Dileep Bhoi, are testing whether tire and steering wheel motion can harness enough electrical energy to recharge a car battery or power other electrical accessories.

Holographic Phones

In Star Wars, Princess Leia sent Obi-wan Kenobi a holographic message using R2D2 to project a 3D image into space. Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab is working to bring a similar capability to smartphones through its HoloFlex project. The HoloFlex uses a 1920x1080 high-definition flexible organic light-emitting diode touchscreen display that renders full 3D images, which depicts how an object looks from a particular viewpoint.

Users can view the object from any angle by rotating their smartphone. The screen is flexible, and users can move objects along the Z axis by bending the screen. The HoloFlex will make it easier to edit 3D models; enable holographic virtual conferences, where you can see the other person’s face from any angle; and empower holographic gaming.

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