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5 Future Things That Have Already Happened

Jet-packs. Virtual Reality. Driverless cars. In many ways, the future is already here. And sure, jet-packs are so cost-prohibitive as to be impractical. And yes, virtual reality is, for now, a great way to get nauseous. And true, we just found out a car doesn’t need a driver to have a traffic accident. But many of the products we thought would only exist in sci-fi movies are already here, making your life just a little bit better (read: creepier). Here are some futuristic things that have already happened!

Programing Knowledge Straight into the Brain

Matrix Neo mind program
(source)

Much like Neo, you can now learn kung fu without having to sign up for lessons, go to only one class, and then use your gi as a bathrobe. Researchers in HRL Laboratories in California say that through neural stimulation, they can feed new information into a person’s mind while they sleep. Electrode-embedded caps are placed over particular areas of the brain to send specific knowledge. With Google and this technology, you’ll soon have no excuse for not knowing literally everything all the time.

 

Exoskeletons

Iron Man 3 armor
(source)

Because military funds have to be spent somewhere, U.S. armed forces have long been at work creating exoskeletons to give soldiers increased strength and endurance. The first attempt came in 1965, when General Electric created Hardiman. Designed to let a person lift almost three-quarters of a ton with ease, Hardiman also experienced sudden, uncontrollable movements. No human ever climbed inside the exoskeleton, so as to avoid what emergency medics call “pretzeling”. Today, DARPA is working on a more reliable exoskeleton that will allow troops to do more with less energy. As for when they’ll be able to fly, remember that Tony Stark went through at least 42 versions to get his right.

 

Printable Human Organs

3D printable human ear
(source)

As 3D printers get cheaper, they’re being used for more than frantically making a coffee mug for your mom the morning of her birthday. Printers have already been used to make skin, blood vessels, and even a bladder, often with the patient’s own cells. Now scientists are trying to replicate even more complicated organs like kidneys, pancreases, and even hearts. While we may never be like Captain Picard ordering Early Grey tea from a food replicator, you may soon be able to say, “Computer, small intestine” (and then wander around your neighborhood in search of a doctor who can put it in your body).

 

Self-Assembling Robots

M Blocks self-assembling robot
(source)

While they’re not exactly Transformers (or even their dollar-bin equivalent, GoBots) the small M blocks are able to move independently, leap through the air, and join together to create new shapes. Essentially small cubes with no external moving parts, the M blocks are the first step toward robots being able to take command of their own form, movement, and repairs. In short, they are the precise starting point for mankind’s doom.

Medical Tricorder

Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy using medical tricorder
(source)

A device that made Dr. McCoy’s job so easy on Star Trek that one had to wonder if he even attended med school, the medical tricorder has long been the dream of doctors and patients alike. Since 2012, a competition called the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize has encouraged people to create a working prototype that will let a physician scan a body and find out what’s going wrong. One company has even created a handheld scanning device that is placed by the patient’s forehead to measure vital signs, while another has developed one that can detect over 1,000 types of disease-causing bacteria. That means that one day, with a few dollars and the right phone app, you too can open a medical practice.

 

What future-y things are you waiting for?

5 Future Things That Have Already Happened

 

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