The incremental upgrading of tech products means we get more useful stuff at a dependable rate. It’s nice to know that your next smartphone is going to be a little bit better than the one that’s in your pocket now. But if you’re any kind of geek, what really sets your pulse racing is the wild-eyed visions of future technologies, the blueprints for a radical new way to conquer a seemingly intractable problem, the early-stage tinkering at gadgets and gear that might just shake everything up if the bugs can be worked out.
The iPhone 5s is more powerful than Apple’s very first iPhone by leaps and bounds. Yet the original remains far more exciting from a historical perspective, because it shook up an industry and ushered in an era of near-constant digital, connected living.
Did the past year produce an iPhone-like product that promises to change the game for everyone? Alas, it’s probably far too early to tell. Folks were still calling touch-enabled, Internet-connected smartphones “toys” years after Apple blew things up with the first iPhone.
Still, we can still look back on some of the coolest, most futuristic products, boldnew technologies, and grand plans for making life better that emerged in 2013. Is it a list everybody’s going to agree upon? Not when some of the stuff we left out—advances in quantum computing, early-stage context-aware, geofencing platforms, bionic suits that enable seriously injured people to walk again —could very well be at the top of your own rankings and not get any argument from us.
Sadly, some things have to be left out of these year-end lists. And if you’ll take a stroll with us through our own round-up of the most eye-opening, futurist technology of 2013, you’ll find yourself in a world where wonders like traveling at sonic speeds over land, “printing” up a pizza from a software file, and mining the Solar System for resources may be just around the corner. Check out the slideshow to see for yourself.