15 Technologies We'll Still Be Using In 2030

Back when I was growing up in the 1970s, we fully expected that, by 2012, we'd all be driving flying cars to our condos on the moon where robotic butlers awaited, ready to bring us the cure for cancer from the bathroom first-aid kit. How's all of that working out? Sure, we now have faster, smaller computers, smartphones that talk back to you, and smart TVs, but in so many areas of technology the pace of change is slower than Windows Vista booting off a floppy disk.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about 15 technologies that will be gone by the time my infant son is old enough to use them. However, barring a zombie apocalypse, there are plenty of mainstays that my son will still be using when he enters college in 2030.

Laptop Magazine may know which computers are great now, but they also have their head in the future. Here are 15 predictions they have for the technologies we'll still be using.

QWERTY Keyboards

Though voice recognition, handwriting recognition and gesture control will all become more accurate and popular in the next two decades, my son will be typing his term papers like his dad and grandfather did before him. Until mind-control text entry becomes ubiquitous, typing will remain the most accurate method for composing and editing text. We just don't speak the same way that we write.

Though physical keyboards are in danger of becoming extinct on phones and tablets, their virtual equivalents will live on. On larger form factors like notebooks, the feel of real plastic keys will not be surpassed. Whether virtual or real, the QWERTY layout, which first appeared in 1878, will continue to dominate.

Read More: 5 Things to Look For in Your Next Notebook Keyboard


Some say we're entering the post-PC era, but I couldn't disagree more. Sure, people are spending more time on their smartphones and tablets than their traditional Windows or Mac OS-based desktops and notebooks. But when it's time to do real work, particularly if that work involves multitasking, the PC is still king and always will be.

By 2030, the size and shape of PCs may change. Some may even argue that, with their speedy quad and dual-core CPUs, phones and tablets are becoming PCs. But whatever the form factor, productivity-oriented users will need primary computers with plenty of dedicated processing power and a multitasking friendly OS.

Read More: 8 Reasons the PC Still Matters

USB Ports

More than 15 years after it was first introduced, we can't imagine life without USB, a nearly ubiquitous standard that allows you to transfer data and power to everything from your keyboard to your external hard drive and monitor. Some believe that competing standards like Intel's high-speed Thunderbolt connection will win out, but they just don't have the install-base to overcome USB, and history is against them.

Over the past two decades, many have tried to put USB out of business, but the bargain bins at computer shows are filled with pretender adapters like FireWire 400 and eSATAp. With nearly every mobile device using USB as a charging standard and USB ports even being built into wall sockets, this standard is only going to grow in the years ahead.

My son may be using USB 7 when he's in college, but he'll be using USB to charge his gadgets and connect peripherals. In fact, with advances in power over USB, he may even use a USB port to power his notebook and his big- screen monitor.

Read More: USB 3.0 Storage Drives Compared

Local Storage

With cloud services becoming more prominent and broadband getting faster, many people believe that in the future, we'll be keeping all of our files online. They're wrong. In college, my son will be storing all his most important data, including his applications, on a local solid state drive (which will use something better than NAND flash).

Even when most of us have 1000 Mbps broadband, local storage will always be faster and more secure than a remote drive on someone else's network. If you want to run large programs like games or professional-grade video-editing apps, you'll want them on your PC's storage drive. Also, even in 2030, there will be plenty of places where Internet access will be unavailable or unreliable.

Read More: What's the Best SSD? 5 Drives Tested

JPEG Files

Even as bandwidth, processing power and storage capacity increase, we cling to a lot of the same file formats we used back in the early 1990s, because they're standards. Though high-end DSLRs can generate uncompressed RAW images, most devices shoot photos in JPG format, simply because everything supports JPG, from grandpa's old Netscape 3 browser that he refuses to update to mom's brand- spanking-new digital picture frame.

In 2030, my son will still be shooting photos in jpg format, viewing JPGs on websites in his browser and uploading JPG files to his social media accounts, which may or may not be the same services we use today.

Read More: 4 Great Photography Apps for Tablets

Lithium-Ion Batteries

In 2030, just as today, nearly all of my son's gadgets from his smartphone to his laptop and his electric or hybrid car will be powered by lithium-ion batteries. Over the years, the energy density of the batteries will increase to fit more mAH into a smaller space and the cell life will improve to several thousand charge cycles.

A number of promising new battery chemistries like lithium-air and nanowire are under development, but if these technologies pan out, they won't hit the mass market for many years. After all, lithium-ion batteries didn't go mainstream until the late 1990s, even though scientists began developing them in the 1970s.

Read More: Battery Tips for Every OS

HTML-Based Websites

By the time my infant son enters his freshmen year of college, we will have long since stopped dividing websites up into "pages," because dynamic content refreshes will have eliminated the need to load an entirely new URL for each screen of content you interact with online. However, HTML, which has been the lingua franca of the Web since 1991, will remain the format we use to build the online applications and publications of the future.

My son will be coding his freshmen year programming project in HTML 8 and doing all his research on a World Wide Web programmed in some form of the language.

Read More: What is HTML 5?


There's some debate about whether plastic credit and debit cards will be totally replaced by mobile payment systems in the next few years. However, there's no doubt that, in 2030, my son will carry a wallet with cash in it, because we'll still be using paper and metal money well into the future.

In the information age, paying by cash is the best way to keep your purchases anonymous. Aside from simply preserving your privacy, paper money is a great shield against identity theft, because the payee doesn't even get your name, let alone an account number. The government would probably love to end the use of cash, because it allows payees to keep illegal transactions off the books, but paper money is the only form of payment that doesn't require a third party like a bank to get involved.

Read More: Tech to Watch 2012: NFC Goes Beyond Digital Wallets

Clamshell-Shaped Notebooks

It's unlikely that my infant son will have a desktop PC in his college dorm, but he will have a clamshell-shaped notebook. Even if most PCs eventually have screens that pop off to become tablets, or keyboards that attach as covers as on the Microsoft Surface, the utility of a design where the keyboard sits perpendicular to the display and then snaps closed will remain unmatched.

In a recent article, Time's Harry McCracken writes about the history of the clamshell form factor that originated with 1982's Grid Compass 1101: "It's hard to imagine any design rendering the clamshell utterly obsolete. No matter how astonishing computers are in 2082 and beyond, I'll bet that some of them will have a screen, a keyboard and a hinge in the middle. Why would the world want to give up something so fundamentally useful?"

Read More: Top 10 Notebooks Available Now


Since 1997, the 802.11 standard has dominated wireless connectivity. Every smartphone, tablet and notebook comes with an 802.11g or 802.11n compatible radio built-in, and every home and business has a router that supports both of those standards.

Today, we use Wi-Fi to stream video from our notebooks/tablets/phones to our home theatres via DLNA, WiDi or even the upcoming Miracast standard. We even have Wi-Fi Direct now, which allows sharing files directly between devices, without the use of a router.

There's no doubt my son will have some form of 802.11-based Wi-Fi in his college campus, at home and in the dorm. Even as most users get their Internet via some form of cellular connection like LTE Super Advanced, there will be an increased need to share connections and local data via Wi-Fi.

Read More: 7 Ways to Improve Your Wireless Router


With the popularity of Facebook, Skype, Google instant messenger and Twitter, some think that email is about to be replaced by other forms of messaging. However, when my son receives his college acceptance letters in the spring of 2030, he'll be getting them via the same old email system we've used in more or less the same format since the 1970s.

Whether it's via POP, IMAP, Exchange or some other protocol, email is an open system where anyone can email anyone else, without having to sign up for an account with a particular company. Can you imagine a future where you have to sign up for Facebook to message one of your clients and Google to contact your congressman?

Read More: Outlook.com Hands-on: Microsoft's Gmail and Clutter Killer

3.5mm Audio Jacks

As I write this list, I'm grooving to my music playlist on a pair of headphones connected to my smartphone via a 3.5mm audio jack. My son may not listen to Barnes and Barnes' "Fish Heads" in a loop for three hours like his dad, but he will still be using 3.5mm audio jacks when he's in college.

Despite the advent of wireless Bluetooth headphones and convenient USB headsets, almost every notebook, tablet, media player and phone has at least one 3.5mm jack. There's just too much invested in backward compatibility with 3.5mm headphones for a big change to occur in the next two decades.

Read More: Hip-Hop Headphones Reviewed

Laser Printers

Though printer technology changed rapidly over the first two decades of the PC era, we've now settled on two standards: ink jet and laser. Since colour laser is clearly superior and is close to achieving price parity with ink jet, laser will be the way everyone prints in 2030.

Of course, by the time my son is in college, a lot of people won't even own printers because everything, from your showing the TSA your airline boarding pass to handing in your term paper, will happen digitally. However, for those that still need to output on paper, laser printers will be the standard.

Read More: Latest Printer Reviews


When my son enters college in 2030, fewer people will have cable and all viewing will occur on demand. However, the dedicated TV set will continue to function as the centre of a shared viewing experience in the living room and other communal spaces. Functionally, there may be few differences between the smart TV of the future and a large external monitor, but users will still want a screen that's specifically designed for the home theatre.

My son may not have a TV in his dorm room, because he'll be able to watch whatever he wants on his mobile devices, but there will be a large TV in the common room where he and his classmates can watch the game together.

Read More: What is a Smart TV?

Microsoft Office

After a nuclear war, only two things will survive: cockroaches and Microsoft Office. Since it overtook competing products from Lotus and WordPerfect in the 1990s, Microsoft's productivity suite has dominated the business and academic worlds. While you can use Office-compatible products like OpenOffice.org and Google Docs for free, the authentic Office remains the standard for IT departments, institutions and home users everywhere.

My son may be using "Microsoft Tiles 8" as his OS in 2030, but he'll still be typing up his papers in some version of Office, as will most of his fellow students, his teachers and the boss at his internship.

Read More: Microsoft Office 2013 Preview: More Cloud, More Social, So-So Touch

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    I'm still holding on for dear life to IE4.

    You want a son real bad.

    I think you'll see fax machines still being used as well.

      fax will be combined with email. My current work PBX already accepts incoming faxes to a dedicated phone line and then emails them to a group email address. to send a fax I can just compose an email and then send it to [email protected] and my PBX does the rest.

        cal - what is that technology that you speak of ... rubbish ... fax machines are it

        At my old job we handled all faxes over e-mail and had no physical faxes or fax line.
        -Faxes to us came as email attachments and our digital faxes could go to fax machines offsite as needed...
        But even then I thought it was clunky old legacy crap tech.

      Unfortunately I think I'll have to agree, although I hope they'll be few and far between!

    I was going to be a jerk and point out that the batteries you have listed are Ni-Cad or Ni-MH and Li-Ion AA don't exist. I was wrong, on the plus side, I learnt Lithium Ion AA batteries do exist...What a journey!

    In the future it won't be lithium ion any more it'll be lithium air (if not super ultra capacitors or iron air batteries).

    A few um and ahs there that agreed on and questioned but the cash i can assure wont be. The points made are valid but i really think we will be in a cashless society.With recent news of Starbucks making a deal with Square, people will want to use that method instead of using actual cash.

      I will always want to use cash. Nothing is quicker and easier, even at self-serve checkouts in supermarket. NFC payments may change that for me but I'm sure plenty of more paranoid sheeple my age will never trust it.

      Cash will always be around. Too much of it goes under the table to get rid of it. Cash also never has unscheduled outages.

    Lol. "After a nuclear war, only two things will survive: cockroaches and Microsoft Office."

    Clamshell shaped notebooks? As soon as thought reading has been mastered, keyboards will go the way of the dodo.

      Killed and eaten by greedy, lazy sailors? Naw, keyboards taste crap.

        And not very entertaining to hunt...

    HTML8? my bet is that W3C haven't even drafted the final specs on HTML5.

    A mildly hilarious article that discounts one basic phenomenon: innovation. I'm sure someone wrote about the long-term usability of the floppy drive - never dreaming of a flash drive, much less wifi connections. No, your son will not be using USB7, unless innovation completely dies...

      Hilarious? Their point about it becoming so standardized is a HUGE one. Sure we have seen competing formats of all sorts but USB has remained a mainstay. Why's that? Convenience.

      Just because we'll still have USB in 15 years doesn't mean innovation has died, it just means people and companies value convenience and compatibility. I don't doubt other connectors and formats will be tried and some may even be adopted, but USB aint going anywhere for quite some time. I'm okay with that, because keeping a million different adapters is a freaking annoying task

      Oh and comparing it to floppies is rather absurd. Floppies have space limits that have rapidly become absurdly tiny. As for USB the speed can be increased as time goes on and the size of devices it serves isn't limited by physical form factor. It can be reshaped and redesigned as the industry grows its requirements, while still keeping the same form factor for the connection itself.

        The USB has flourished in this technological environment, but who is to say that it will survive amongst future generations of technology. Near-field, wireless power or other technologies could render physical USB connections redundant.

          Many may well have majorly moved over to other tech, but I really doubt it will have completely disappeared. Familiarity is important to a lot of people. We still have physical mail. People still use fax. Hell in our office we all agree the fax machine is something we'd rather get rid of, but cause we still do business with some that use it we HAVE to keep it, unfortunately. There are still business people out there who'd rather work with paper than with PCs too.

          Sure some will want ONLY the best new tech (or not even the best and newest, but somewhere near there) and some will still hold to their familiar devices. There will also still be people, like in our business, who don't want to upgrade devices unless they really don't do the job anymore. We've got PCs here which still do the job that are more than 5 years old and there isn't a strong need to upgrade them still (unless they actually fail).

          Basically my point isn't that new tech won't come (or that it won't be awesome and convenient). It's that to see this, currently, incredibly convenient tech disappear fully it's gonna take a VERY long time. It's not a matter of newest and best, it's a case of familiarity and life cycles.

            You can't really compare FAXs and USB. One is a communications device/platform, the other is a local connection device. You are reliant on retaining the FAX because other clients or businesses you depend on are also using it. USB is vastly different in the great many cases since its utility is generally limited to devices you personally own, with external parties likely having no impact on how you use the technology.

            For example, what is stopping you using a bluetooth mouse with your current laptop if you decided to ditch corded mice? Probably nothing. Thats a far cry from the decision you make when you bin the corporate fax machine and the discussions it sounds like you have already had about the need to retain a FAX machine.

            I can see where you are coming from, however USB is one standard. Theres no reason another 'universal' standard wont come along. Already wireless synchronization is starting to reduce the need to have a cable for certain devices, in the future inductive charging will reduce the need to use it for charging and so forth.

            Will USB be here for some time? Absolutely. Will it be here in 20 years? Who knows. Thats an age in the technology cycle. Keep in mind less than 20 years ago most people weren't even using the internet much less owned a PC, Windows 95 hadn't been released ect ect.

              All fair points. Although as USB is fairly ubiquitous for storage we often use it to transport data to other businesses/receive data from other businesses, so our use of USB is at least somewhat dictated by what others use.

              We'll all be watching what the future holds no doubt. As for me I'd be surprised to see USB completely gone in 20 years, but I'd ALSO be surprised if it's still considered such a convenient solution as it is currently.

    Thanks for this article, totally agree on all points. In my work we still deal with people who'd rather use fax machines and very occasionally people who still draft things manually! Some of the things here might be a bit out of style and not as widely used by then, but I really agree that they'll still be used enough to be considered commonplace.

    I especially agree on the PC and Cloud parts. Sure cloud access is getting better and more prevalent and tablets and phones are getting better at a rapid rate, but there are still so many pluses to having a serious machine with data right there. I'm sure by then some people will only have tablets/phones/smartglasses/whatever else and use the cloud almost exclusively, but there will be plenty who rather the mainstays of rigs and physical storage.

    Mostly agree, except for USB and JPG.
    USB is merely a standard. That does not guarantee in any way that it will stick around. The form factor will change, power/bandwidth requirements will change. the USB negotiation methods may become cumbersome alongside other future technologies.
    JPG. JPG is still a lossy format and is reasonably inefficient. As processing power increases and new technologies emerge, why shouldn't we take advantage of that and create better file formats. JPG cannot support light-field technology or fractally iterative compression. If we ever drop the 2D square-pixel format, this would render JPGs obsolete.

      Man, he used JPG as an example for a reason- there any man, many other newer and better formats than jpg, have been for years, but they are just not universally adopted.
      What use is a format is only 15% of people (or a lot less) can use it? And that's not just because of preference, there are minefields of license payments, patents and standards agreements to go through, not to mention all the rivalries with competing formats, so in the end things like JPG (and USB as well) win over because they do the job well enough and are already used universally...

        He said JPG will still be around. He didn't say it will still be used to take new photos. You'll still be able to view JPG files - it won't die, like some other formats have that you can longer view as standard on products.

      There have been better file formats than JPEG for 25 years but it is still the standard. PNG was specifically created for the internet age but almost no-one uses it.

        PNG is not a replacement for jpg. PNG 32 has fantastic alpha transparency but almost no compression in complex images, so it does not replace that function of the jpg.
        PNG 8 pit on the other hand is just a 256 colour GIF replacement without the animation potential (index colour)

        So no, PNG is not a replacement for JPG at all.

        I tried to tell the designers this who were doing a major reprogram on the site I mange, they idiotically did not understand and were totally dumbfounded when they started converting all the millions of JPGs and gigs of their storage space suddenly completely vanished.

    I'm listening to my tunes on Bluetooth headphones. Just sayin...

      Yep. I think the 3.5mm jack will be one to last, however the "Bluetooth" note in the article doesn't factor in that until recent iterations it was a fairly battery intensive protocol. There could be a large shift in the coming years as wireless technology improves as does battery life.

      That said, vinnyl still exists and is a testament to how many people are happy to stick to older standards when it comes to their music.

    I'm listening to my tunes on Bluetooth headphones. Just sayin...

    And I've listened to music streamed to my Bluetooth speaker but I still ALWAYS plug things in with a cable. Just sayin'.

    I actually can't see any of those techs lasting till 2030 (except maybe Office ). I like how most points had qualifiers.

      To clarify, 20 years is a long time when you think how far we've come in the last 10.

        Not really - I've owned two/three laptops over ten years and they all have USB, Office, 3.5mm jacks, QWERTY keyboards, local storage, etc...

        Go back 20 and most are still there too.

    Office? What's that ;-)

    At one stage, I thought Nokia chargers would have made this list.

    i Would think a new one handed keyboard would come along , rare use for f keys number keys combo shifts with mouse buttons, you could reduce key by half.

    I can see USB surviving as a power plug. The car cigarette lighter socket will be around longer than people will smoke.

    The car cigarette lighter is optional on a lot of new cars now and the USB port is becoming a standard.

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