How many kids grew up anticipating the day when humans would travel the earth with individual jet packs strapped to their backs? How many imagined full meals that come in capsule form or teleporters? Those technologies haven’t happened. Yet, in the last 2 decades alone, we’ve seen enough new tech to fill an early 1990s science-fiction flick. With tablet computers we can transport all the computing power of a bulky desktop computer in our hands. With smartphones we can instantly send text messages to our friends and due to GPS, we never have to get lost while driving again.
So, with all of this technology, why don’t we have jet packs yet? What factors are preventing us from making these technological leaps?
Building a Better Battery
First, there is battery power. The bottomline is, the batteries powering our smartphones and tablets must be recharged too frequently. A more powerful battery would allow us to run our gadgets for weeks at a time and then charge them again in mere minutes. This battery does not exist yet. However, it may be coming: researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University are designing a far more powerful lithium-ion battery. If their prototype becomes commercially viable, it will probably be a game-changer.
Improving Internet Access
It may seem like everyone is connected to the Internet, but this is a fallacy. Most of the world doesn’t have access to the Internet. While this may not seem like it could suppress technological advancements, it does. The idea is that by limiting the amount of people who can contribute to the interconnectedness the Internet provides, we are restricting the amount of people who can collaborate. Until the majority of people are connected, technological advancements are not going to happen as quickly as they could.
The Business of New Tech
This might not come as a surprise, but business matters slow down technological advancements as well. For instance, patent laws, and government regulations. If these things are not clear, creations can sit in red tape limbo for some time. To prevent this last step bottleneck of the creation process, laws ought to be clear and easy to comprehend.
Even though there are several things that are holding technology back, it is still advancing at a rapid pace. Maybe we will finally get hover boards when battery technology catches up to our imaginations.