Google promised radical technology proposals would be a part of its Solve for X project, and its initial offerings so far haven't disappointed.
In a series of lectures about radical new technology posted on the Google Solve for X page, several entrepreneurs and academics have outlined ideas for technology that seemingly come straight out of science fiction movies. While not all of these technologies are anywhere close to becoming a reality anytime soon, companies and universities are doing the basic research and laying the groundwork for what could be some amazing technological breakthroughs in the years to come. In this article, we'll run down the five craziest, most far-out technology proposals outlined on Solve for X so far and hopefully give you some insight into the future of high-end technology.
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ANALYSIS: Google Labs' greatest non-hits
BACKGROUND: Google piques interest with Solve for X video, website
1. Computerized contact lenses
This is one of the most straight-up sci-fi technologies being showcased at Solve for X so far but sadly it's also likely the farthest away from coming to fruition. Babak Parviz, a McMorrow associate professor of innovation at the University of Washington who specializes in nanotechnology and micro systems, made the case that we could someday wear contact lenses that could double as personal computer display screens in the future although he declined to speculate on when, exactly, such technology would be mature enough for use.
At the moment Parviz is researching ways to create contact lenses that have sensors capable of using the eye as a portal for health care monitoring. The reason that contact lenses could be ideal for monitoring patients' health, he says, is that they are relatively nonintrusive compared with implanted devices and because they can gather vital health data from tear drops that contain mean of the same essential components as a drop of blood.
So, OK, that's all well and good but what about transforming our contact lenses into augmented reality machines so we can play "Skyrim" while we're walking down the street? Parviz imagines that we'll eventually be able to shrink down technology to the point where we'll be able to include wireless data connectivity into the lenses along with RF energy transfer antennae, display drive circuits and a semi-transparent display that will give us instant data to fill us in on just what we're looking at. So if we're talking through the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, for example, and we want to know a specific species of tree, our contact lenses could take one look at the tree, cross-reference it with other pictures on the web and then display the tree's Wikipedia page right in front of our eyes.