Dear future technology: a travellers wishlist

The future is bright and full of dandelions

Today, I’m going to do one of my rare technology themed posts. I’m writing about what I’d like to see from my technology in the coming years. Don’t worry. I’ll be back to talking about the rest of the world’s awesomeness soon enough.

I’m not one to complain. I already have the equivalent of a 1970’s supercomputer available to me in my pocket (there’s a joke there somewhere), with a great percentage of the worlds knowledge available a mere few screen taps away.

I can call friends around the world for free, with video. I can control my bank accounts, book flights, find my way, get restaurant recommendations, look up the weather, and learn how to build a fire with nothing but a bucket of water.

Ok, that last one I made up. Hopefully my point is made. We live in an incredible time. But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of dreaming. So. If I was in charge of a giant tech company, with billions of dollars sitting around, wondering how to make a travellers life easier, this is the sort of thing I might be thinking of doing. As well as driverless cars that is. And clean drinking water and free healthcare for all. You know, the little things...

Near-instant wireless charging

trippy lights

When travelling, you can’t escape the need to take some devices with you. Be they cameras, phones, laptops, e-readers or music players (or one device that does all of the above properly, come on world... let’s get moving on this convergence thing!), they all have the same thing in common, a requirement for power.

One thing that doesn’t appear to have kept up with the pace of technological change is the humble battery.

Firstly, there is no universally accepted charging solution, which means taking a mass of wires with you when you travel. Second, devices take time to charge. Promises of “fast charge” batteries have been around for a while, but as yet not delivered.

The future, therefore, should fix both of these complaints. First, I want to be able to charge my devices wirelessly. This technology exists, but it’s not exactly a common standard as yet, plus it’s darn slow. I want charging to happen very quickly, ideally in less than a minute.

I hope for a future where power charging pads are like vending machines, available all over the place. You take your fading device, pop a credit in the unit, hold your device against the charge pad, and moments later, you are ready to rock, all charged up. With a charge that lasts more than a day. Can’t be that hard. Right?

Real-time translation

Foreign symbols on rock

Communication is important. It would be so nice to have a little yellow fish I pop in my ear that automatically translated everything I heard, but that’s somewhat unlikely to happen. What is more likely, is that a smartphone app evolves to let this happen.

Currently, Google translate works to a point. And Microsoft are working on this one too. Both options currently require a connection to the internet, which isn’t generally available in all the places you want to translate things. (That is another point, but I’m ok if the technology folks roll out clean drinking water for all before free internet for all.)

Of all my future dreams, I think this one may come true first. Then I’ll be able to order beer everywhere I go, and even understand how much I’m supposed to pay for it! Hurrah!

A single universally accepted payment option

In every science fiction novel ever, there is a universally accepted payment option, usually known as a credit. A single world currency would be a utopian solution, but even just one form of payment that is accepted everywhere would be nice.

And yes, I’d like it to be something electronic too. Because nice though sacks of beans or gigantic triangular rubber coins are, they do have some impracticalities when it comes to ease of packing. Google Credits. Apple iCredits. I can almost taste their electronic goodness.

Electronic paperwork

Rock art hand

One thing you can’t escape when travelling is the need for documentation. A passport is the most important bit of paperwork, but you probably also carry all kinds of other bits of paper with you. From insurance receipts to booking confirmations to other forms of ID, it all adds up.

I’d like all this to be replaced by something less tangible. Various attempts at biometric ID have come and gone. For a while you could sign up to enter and leave the UK using a retinal scanner. The future was here!

Sadly, technology revolutions don’t seem to happen entirely overnight. Or for free. That system is being canned, presumably because passports are still what everyone in the world uses. So whilst my passport has a chip in it, and is terribly Passport 2.0 in that sense, I’d really like to not have it at all. Because if I lose it, for some reason I am no longer me to the border authorities. Which just seems wrong. So yes. I want to be my own document. Surely there is some part of me unique enough that I can be identified by it…

Virtual addresses

floating lights

When you travel long term, not having an address or permanent base can start to become a serious hindrance. The world does not seem to be entirely set up for people who don’t have some form of postal address. The common solution is to use a friends address… or that classic fallback, a parents address. (Also useful for long term storage of all those things you couldn’t bring yourself to throw away.)

This does seem rather ridiculous though, as you’re not actually living there. It’s a loophole in a flawed system. If only there was some way to have an address that large institutions actually recognised as being linked to you, without the need for actual bricks and mortar. Like.. an electronic mail address, to which “electronic” versions of documents could be sent. It could be called.. “e”mail. Patent pending on that one folks.

Well, that’s what I’m hoping the not too far off future may hold from a travellers technology viewpoint. As well as flying cars of course. And teleporters. And space flight.

Got a wish for some future technology that would make your travels or life easier? Do share below!

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