Monday, May 04, 2015

Technology and Tomorrow

Predicting the future can be difficult, but there is no doubt that often what is science fiction in one era is everyday reality only a couple of generations later.

The comic strip Dick Tracy introduced the wrist radio in 1946 (later upgraded to a wrist TV-phone), and the 1966 TV series Star Trek had Star Fleet using handheld communicators.  Both ideas seemed far-fetched to the average person, but those comic and TV fans have lived to see both inventions become available as Smartwatches and cell phones at the nearest mall.

Back to the Future II was set in 2015 and featured a hoverboard as a teen’s plaything.  Since the movie came out in 1989, garage tinkerers and serious scientists have been working on making a skateboard move without wheels.  Last fall, a prototype hoverboard based on magnetic levitation was demonstrated.

Technology is transforming the way we learn as well.  From smart classrooms to digital books, today’s college students are accessing knowledge in ways that were science fiction when their parents went to school.  Just a few of these transformative technologies are:  Canvas, ebooks, massive open online courses known as MOOCs, iPhones, and various types of social media.

Where will technology take us next?    For more on emerging technologies see the book display Technology and Tomorrow on the first floor of the  Al Harris Library.   The books are available for checkout.