In addition to recapping the passing year, a favorite media pastime is looking ahead to what the new year might bring. Although some changes we already know, like we’re getting a new head of the Federal Reserve in February, much is pure speculation, especially when it comes to technology. Here are some technological items I’ve been reading about that have caught my eye.
There has been so much interest in self-driving vehicles, but remember, they don’t have to be on land. YARA International of Norway will begin operating the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship in the latter half of 2018. Named the YARA Birkeland, the vessel will transport products from the company’s Porsgrunn production plant to the Norwegian cities of Brevik and Larvik. YARA estimates the ship will save as many as 40,000 truck trips. YARA Birkeland will begin operation as a manned vessel, then transition to remote control in 2019 and is expected to be capable of fully autonomous operation in 2020. (http://yara.com/media/press_releases/2103105/press_release/201705/yara-and-kongsberg-enter-into-partnership-to-build-worlds-first-autonomous-and-zero-emissions-ship/.
I’ve always felt speaking multiple languages was a real talent, but now one might be enough. Google Translate was launched in 2006; on my last visit to its website (https://translate.google.com/), I counted 88 languages offered. Now with Pixel Buds ($159), you can have translation of 40 different languages in real time. Simply use Pixel or Pixel 2 smartphone, and with Google Translate activated, the other person will speak through the phone in his or her language and you’ll talk through the earbuds as Google Translate is translating ( https://www.tomsguide.com/us/google-pixel-buds-translation,news-26108.html).
You’ve heard of 3-D printers? Since they were introduced, there seems to be no limit to what they can do. Now Apis Cor of San Francisco (“We Print Buildings”) claims the title of the first company to develop a mobile construction 3-D printer which can print a whole building completely on-site. Using a mobile arm that extrudes concrete, they can build a 100-square-meter house in 24 hours. The company claims a cost savings of 40% over traditional construction methods ( http://apis-cor.com/en/).
If you like keeping up with technology and want to learn about more futuristic ideas, I recommend my research starting point, “18 Bright Ideas for 2018, From Flying Taxis to Companion Robots” at https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2017/1224/18-bright-ideas-for-2018-from-flying-taxis-to-companion-robots .
And remember, the future will be here tomorrow.