by Ray Hammond, Futurologist
Want to know what might be happening 20 years into the future? Vision correction specialist Ultralase has teamed up with Europe’s leading Futurist Ray Hammond to predict exactly what the world will look like in the next 20 years, to 2031.
The Vision of the Future report, marks the 20th anniversary of Ultralase; the UK’s first laser eye surgery specialist. Covering everything from tourism trends to medical innovations, the document offers a unique insight into our lives 20 years from now and the trends and innovations to look out for.
Tony Veverka, Chief Executive Officer at Ultralase, says: “It’s fascinating to see how the world has changed since we opened our first clinic in 1991. Back then, when we first brought laser eye surgery to the UK, many people saw the treatment as a futuristic practice that was out of reach to your everyday man on the street. I even remember it featuring on the Tomorrow’s World programme.
Thankfully, that’s not the case today. And with this in mind, we decided to commission a report to mark our anniversary and help us see the world 20 years from now. We also found it interesting to look back at the predictions made over 20 years ago to see what other technologies and trends managed to make it into mainstream society. As well as those that never quite caught on. As I’m sure you’ll agree, the results makes for very interesting reading”.
The report was created for Ultralase by Europe’s most experienced and widely published futurist Ray Hammond. With over 30 years of experience in predicting future trends, Ray has written over 16 books on the subject and today he shares observations on what’s still to come.
Looking forward 20 years: Five Predictions for the year 2031
1. Language barrier to become obsolete
US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were amongst the first to trial real-time language translators
and there are a number of smartphone applications also entering the market that will translate
spoken words and phrases into 57 languages. However, in 20 years’ time real-time translation will be provided by wearable computers so that two people who do not understand each other’s language can have an easy conversation. This will mean that there is no longer any point in learning a foreign language unless it is for pleasure, or for cultural reasons.
2. I, Robot…Robotic carers and cleaners
Over five million robotic vacuum cleaners are already working in homes across the world. However, within the next 10 years, more general purpose domestic robots will start to arrive in homes and within 20 years, robots will be routinely providing care for the very young, the ill and the elderly. They will become our personal fitness trainers, companions and even ‘romance’ partners.
3. Glasses and contact lenses will become things of the past for more and more people
Laser eye treatment is already a widely accepted procedure to reduce or eliminate the need for
glasses or lenses and within 20 years it will become the “norm” with the majority of people opting
for freedom from their glasses and lenses. In addition, developments in the field will allow people
with previously untreatable prescriptions (either very high, complex or reading prescriptions) to
have a surgical alternative to their glasses or contact lenses. These treatments are currently being
developed, and include laser, intra-ocular lens, and corneal implant procedures.
4. Remote controlled motorways
Within 20 years many cars will be driven and steered by robot control systems that receive
instructions from roadside, cellular and satellite wireless systems. This technology has already been tested on a freeway in Los Angeles and, each year, the American Defense Agency organises a long-distance race for robot-controlled cars but by 2031 this technology will be widespread. In fact, many highways will only allow robot-controlled cars to travel.
5. Communication to get under everyone’s skin!
Early experiments with implanted subcutaneous communications devices have already taken
place with Professor Kevin Warwick, at Reading University, becoming the first British Citizen with
such an implant in 2005. By 2030, however, many more people will be wearing tiny computers/
communications devices (descended from today’s smartphones) in their jewellery/clothing and
some will even choose to have them implanted under their skin.