The year was 2001. John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia. “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” was at the top of the charts. Big Kev was enthusing about washing powder on our CRT TVs. And 10-year-old Amanda was dreaming of a handheld, voice-activated computer.
I recently stumbled across a list I’d written in primary school entitled “Inventions of the Future”. Considering it was written when fax machines were still in common use and I was inventing the Waker Upper 10,000 (a bed sawn in half with a hole beneath it), it holds up surprisingly well. If I’d known my predictions would be so accurate I’d have used my powers for stock purchases rather than schoolwork.
So I present to you: “Inventions of the Future” by 10-year-old Amanda, annotated by 27-year-old Amanda.
- Submarines with many seats, a TV, big windows and hostesses that give you a tour of the sea. Ocean tourism sadly didn’t take off as much as 10-year-old, obsessed-with-nudibranchs Amanda thought it would, but it is still a thing. You can even get a submarine tour of the Titanic if you’re so inclined, which I am not because I went forth and learnt what fear was.
- A anti-gravity machine that is installed in your home and can be switched on and off. While NASA has a Zero Gravity Research Facility, household Zero-G isn’t a thing that can currently be done, or that anyone who is not an excitable child wants. But average non-astronauts can experience Zero-G-esque conditions through methods such as indoor skydiving and riding in a plane flying in parabolic arcs. Just not in the house.
- Hand-held computers that are voice controled and can sense smoke. Hello, smartphones and Siri. Not sure about the smoke thing, though, unless we’re talking about cannabis breathalysers. Which I don’t think I was.
- Cars that can hover or fly and if you tell it where to go, it will go there without you driving it. Shout out to the Ehang 184, an autonomous one-seater flying drone that requires no driving, which is great because I can’t drive. Flying cars, guys. The future is now.
- 3D computers/TVs and so on that have balls you sit in that move to follow what is on the screen. 3D computers and 3D television were indeed a thing for a brief,
shining moment before everyone realised what a terrible idea it was. My bespectacled arse still hates 3D films more than life itself. My monitor allegedly has 3D capabilities, a fact I only rediscovered recently as I have never, ever used them.
- Virtual reality goggles that enable you to play games, see through things, and so on. Virtual reality kicked off in a big way last year, with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR all being released. Developers are still just starting to poke at all the possibilities this new format affords us, but several games have already been released for these platforms, including one of my favourite titles from last year, Batman: Arkham VR. Who doesn’t want to be Batman? A liar, that’s who.
- You can scan something and a image of it is made into a 3D, transparent, floating statue. Holograms haven’t quite made the strides I’d hoped, but projects such as this holographic Cortana are constantly pushing technology further. We also have the Hololens (for given values of “we” and “have”). Yes, you have to wear a headset, but the premise is there.
- You can scan yourself and a image which you can control appears on the TV screen. A few games now allow you to scan your face in and affix it to an in-game avatar, so you can be just as attractive in game as you are in real life. Actual results may vary.
- Flying robots that will replace security cameras. Drones. These are drones. I predicted drones.
- To open your door, you have to press your thumb to screen for a computer to scan it. Fingerprint locks. This isn’t even a cutting edge idea any more. They’re even on our voice-controlled, handheld computers.
- You can call up people
opon portable, pocketsized telephones with TV screens you can see each oother on, play games and watch mini videos. Smartphones. Is there anything they can’t do (aside from detect smoke)?
- Computer/TV screens that are specialy designed for teaching children the fun way. I hate that turn of phrase. “The fun way.” I sound like a kid who listens to adults too much. Anyway, tablets and tablet computers are now practically mandatory equipment for young kids getting their learn on. So of course, a plethora of games and gadgets designed to facilitate learning have been produced. A lot of that seems to be just making devices sturdier so kids don’t break them. Never trust kids with anything you love.
- Virtual reality goggles will let learning be easier because students can go forward and backward in time and to other places. I need to stress that I didn’t actually think VR would allow humans to physically time travel. I realise the wording of this point is slightly ambiguous, particularly as we are discussing fanciful, future technologies. Humans are using VR for educational purposes, not only virtually travelling to impossible locations, but also teaching skills such as midwifery. However they are not using it to literally time travel.
- There will be space-shuttles like the submarines. Space tourism has become a very real possibility for the ordinary (probably wealthy) citizen in recent years, thanks to endeavours such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. Turns out people are more excited about potentially suffocating in space than potentially suffocating in the ocean. Who would have thought?
- Underground tunnels with special cars will get you where you want to go in a matter of seconds. Elon Musk is taking care of this childhood fantasy as well. The Boring Company plans to build tunnels with special sled-like devices that will get you to your destination within minutes. Not quite the seconds 10-year-old Amanda envisaged, but acceptable. Great thinking, Mr Musk.
And here, for posterity, is the original list of future inventions in full. Please note that I got full marks, because I tried way harder than was probably necessary in primary school.
Images: Amanda Yeo/Gizmodo