These days, technology moves so fast, it can be hard to keep up. Phones pack more punch each year, TVs are getting larger and smarter, and even your every day car is packed with technology that would have been unheard of 10 years ago. Now though, technological advancements are starting to have more of an impact on our day to day lives in ways that had previously only been portrayed in science fiction films.
Driver-less Cars - Herbie, Or Something Less Disney?
The motoring industry is one area where advancements in technology are starting to become a lot more noticeable. Google have been working on self drivings cars for several years, fitting cars with lasers and radar systems to generate highly detailed 3D maps of its environment. This data will be combined with maps of the local area, enabling them to navigate along roads, obey traffic lights, handle roundabouts and even box junctions (which is something even some drivers fail to manage!) - all without anybody behind the wheel.
This technology has several obvious benefits and practical applications, but until recently it hasn't quite been ready for the general public. However, Google recently produced a more refined prototype, and it's, well... different!
Now, I know some cars have a 'face', but I think this cute little thing is perhaps taking it a bit too far! The new prototype simply has two buttons; start and stop. You program in your destination, and off you go. Currently it can only travel at about 20 miles an hour, but it's impressive that the technology is here to be able to process this amount of information to whiz you around in something relatively familiar and comfortable, and it seems to be a step closer to making it into our every day lives.
The concept of self driving cars raises an interesting question though... are we really ready to take the leap to accepting this sort of technology? While some people find driving unnatural enough as it is, I'm not sure many people are going to be too willing to trust being driven around in a machine that has no form of manual override; it goes against every instinct in our body. I'm a keen driver and enjoy driving as something more than a form of transportation, so I'm somewhat hesitant about the thought that one day, all cars will be autonomous. To start with, these sorts of cars will likely be used as taxis to shuttle you around towns and cities, but while it's certainly an exciting concept, I think it'll be a while before we're all being driven to work by our cars.
Self driving cars isn't the first example of Google developing futuristic technology that may take a bit of getting used to.
Wearable Tech - Low Fashion, High Function?
Google Glass has been around for a while now, and developers in the UK can now finally get their hands on the device (as long as they're willing to part with a cool £1,000). The glasses show you emails, SMS notifications, travel directions, offer voice activated search, and can also take photos and record videos, all displayed on a small projector in front of your right eye.
Despite how cool this sounds (I'll admit I've been keen to see what it's like to use) there's debate on whether this sort of wearable technology is socially acceptable yet. With apps that can take photos or record video with the blink of an eye, some people approach this sort of tech with an understandable degree of uncertainty and apprehension; you'd certainly feel somewhat awkward sitting across from someone wearing them on the tube. They've already been banned from certain establishments like coffee shops and restaurants, as well as cinemas and theatres for obvious reasons. Plus, they look, well, kinda weird.
And The Rest... Of Your Life
However, going back to technology making our lives easier, there are new tools coming onto the market to automate processes all around our house and, you guessed it, Google are behind this too (anyone else starting to see a worrying pattern here?). Nest is a company recently acquired by Google, which produces the Nest Thermostat, and the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. These aren't like the ones you have in your home, though; these will learn and adapt, and almost have minds of their own. While the Nest Thermostat will learn how warm you like your house and turn up the temperature for when you return from work, as well as knowing when you're out late - letting you manage the temperature remotely via an app - the Nest Protect will text your neighbours if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide in your house, alert you via your smartphone, and even speak to you to help you evacuate. It's even clever enough to just give you a gentle alert if it thinks you might have just burnt your toast.
Whether you want to remotely lock and unlock your front door, turn on lights in and around your house, or have a fridge with Wifi to tell you when you're low on something; there's some tech for just that. These devices sound like they will keep you and your family safe and make your life easier, but how long will it be before everything in our lives is automated and run by computers (and Google), and is that something we really want?
What do you think about the idea of driver-less cars and homes that run themselves? Will it make our lives easier, or is it the origins of Skynet? Personally, I think it's only a matter of time before technology takes over (and Google have even prepared for it...)
Remember... you are the resistance...