How many kids grew up waiting for the day when humans would travel the earth with individual jet packs strapped to their backs? How many imagined full meals that come in capsule form or teleporters? Those technologies haven’t happened. Yet, in the last twenty years alone, we’ve seen enough new tech to fill an early 1990s science-fiction flick. With tablet computers we can transport all the computing power of a bulky desktop computer in our hands. With smartphones we can instantly send text messages to our friends and thanks to GPS, we never have to get lost while driving again.
So, with all of this technology, why don’t we have jet packs yet? What factors are keeping us from making these technological leaps?
Building a Better Battery
As we move into a more mobile world, batteries grow in significance. They are a foundation of our technological world nowadays. Consequently, if we are limited by their power, and capability to hold a charge, the technology which uses them is also limited. For example, you wouldn’t want your jet pack to loose its charge in flight. Recently, researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University found a way to make a much more powerful lithium-ion battery than the ones we have today. We explored this more thoroughly in a blog post last week. When these batteries finally enter the market, we will likely notice a increase in technological advancements.
Improving Internet Access
The second limiting factor has to do with access. Basically, not enough of the world’s population has access to high-speed Internet access. It may seem like every public library, bookstore, and cafe’ provides its customers with access to high-speed wireless Internet, but this is mostly a mirage. The vast majority of humans don’t have quick access to the web. Until this happens, we’ll be needlessly limiting the growth of technology. The more minds that are connected on the Web, the better the odds are of reaching the next tech breakthrough.
The Business of New Tech
Finally, there is the business end of things. Technological progress is stunted by arcane things such as patent law. Businesses take their time introducing new gadgets and services because they must first traverse a minefield of laws and government regulations. These laws are essential. However, they must be clear and easy to comprehend so new technology isn’t bottled up unnecessarily.
The great news is that none of these limitations can truly stop technology from advancing. Just think ahead to the holiday season of 2020. You never know what innovations will be awaiting us.