In the late 1990s, few people anticipated some of the technological developments that would appear a decade later. From the introduction of smart phones to streaming video on demand, social media, hybrid cars and more, these advances feel like they’ve been with us forever at this point. What kind of innovation might lie ahead over the next ten years? What technology will we take for granted by the year 2035? It’s always tricky to try to make these predictions, especially given that so many unpredictable factors drive or hinder innovation, but it can be fun to try.
One thing that seems extremely likely is that the number of employees working remotely will continue to grow. However, widespread all-virtual workforces seem unlikely. While having remote workers can offer certain benefits to employers, such as saving on the cost of office space, it can be detrimental to teamwork and collaboration. It’s likely that by 2030, this area will have been much-studied and there will be strategies in place to improve virtual collaboration, but it also seems likely that many workplaces will choose to be a hybrid rather than entirely virtual. Technology could significantly change certain industries. For example, the rise of autonomous vehicles could mean the trucking and other transportation industries look very different in 2030.
As is the case with work, virtual education is on the rise. While it has some of the same drawback as virtual workplaces, it also makes education far more accessible to more people. Artificial intelligence that can stand in for teaching assistants, answering questions and grading exams, could give teachers more time to spend on their students. Augmented and virtual reality are likely to play an increasing part in education whether it is done from students’ homes or in the classroom. As tuition rates continue to increase, the ability to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and apply for private student loans online has streamlined the process of borrowing money for college. Lenders are increasingly looking at more unconventional ways to assess creditworthiness, such as reviewing regular payments of utilities. It is likely that these types of innovations will continue.
The smart TVs of the early 2000s have given way to entire smart homes in 2020. Wired homes will become more common over the next decade, and augmented reality could mean the ability to change the look of your sofa cushions or walls with the click of a switch. These homes will also become increasingly sustainable. For example, homes could be made water self-sufficient if waste water is recycled throughout the house.
Not only are people working and learning from home more, but they’re staying in for entertainment more as well. However, the future world of leisure isn’t all about the home. For example, technology is likely to make moving through the airport much easier, with the use of biometrics getting you through lines in minutes that might take an hour or more today. Developers are looking at possibilities in underwater hotels and floating resorts, and luxury suborbital travel could whisk the wealthiest travelers around the globe in a fraction of the time it takes today.