Three technologies that might change the world

Three technologies that might change the world

The utterly unprecedented leaps forward in technology that have made the last five years so exciting will almost certainly continue for many years to come. Every week it appears a new story hits the headlines, announcing the latest mind-bending breakthrough that will change planet earth as we know it. Though it is difficult to predict which of these will actually make good on the praise, here are three of our favourites from recent times.

Leap Motion

Dragging desktop technology into the future is Leap Motion – a system that allows the user to control what's on their screen by hand, without touching a controller or touching the monitor. The user merely moves their hands above the motion sensor, sending their commands to the device. It's already being incorporated into many games but Leap Motion also allows you to scroll through the web, zoom into maps or images or sign online documents.

Key to its success is the fact that it is both smoother and more responsive than previous attempts at this kind of technology.

The Driverless Card

Sounds crazy, possibly is crazy but, apparently, it's true. Boffins at Google have developed artificial intelligence that allows cars to be driven without any human input. It works off a system of video cameras and sensors within the vehicle and has already driven 1609 kilometres on its own.

Though the ins-and-outs of the technology are being tightly guarded, Google believes driverless cars will be available to the public within the next decade.

Firefox OS

Mozilla's decision to build a brand new mobile operating system from scratch was a bold but smart move. While iOS and Android worked great individually, they came with their own systems and made cross platform development tricky.

So, Firefox OS and its focus upon openness and user choice makes it an ideal solution. Built upon Gonk, Gaia and Gecko software layers, this is open sourced and carries HTML5 and CSS3. The good news for developers is that they can create and share apps with real simplicity, while the good news for users is that they can customise the interface without the previous blockages.

What you need to know about wearable technology

What you need to know about wearable technology

Wearable technology is being massively touted as the future for communication, entertainment and personal computing and, certainly, that would seem to follow all recent trends. Since the 1980s, technology has become smaller and smaller and, so, the idea of having all your contacts and communication ability stuck to your body is an obvious next move. Whether it be Google Glasses, the Pebble or the Smart Shirt, all of these items will need to share a number of common principles if they are to be a success and understanding these will be key to understanding this hardware trend.

They all solve a recurring problem

Basically, wearable technology has to be useful. Nobody wants a piece of technology weighing down their wrist or wrapped around their face unless there is a good reason for it. Practicality is everything.

Does not take the wearer out of the world

Many people's first reactions to Google Glasses was appalled shock, with the assumption that any wearer would, essentially, be living inside a computer, never actually interacting with the world around them. In reality, for wearable technology to be a success, it needs to help the wearer interact with the world as opposed to distracting them from it.

Focus on the person

Any truly popular wearable technology will have to be human-centric, not machine-focused. Rather than hardware companies taking a piece of technology and thinking ‘how can we get people to use this?' it must begin with a human requirement that makes researchers think ‘how can technology address this?'

Solve more problems than it creates

Of course, there are going to be some issues with wearable technologies. Google Glasses poses the obvious one: does anybody with perfect vision really want to wear glasses? The answer is only positive if the glasses bring more advantages to the table than disadvantages.

Take advantage of existing behaviour

What it will all come down to is how much these devices feel like natural extensions of normal human behaviour as opposed to catalysts for new behaviour. In reality, they should not change the wearer's behaviour much at all, just make doing the things they already do either easier or more enjoyable.

Your guide to consumer 3D printer filament

Your guide to consumer 3D printer filament

3D printing has never been far from the tech headlines this year. If you want to get involved with the additive manufacturing revolution, you will have to learn a few things about the process. One of the most important things to understand is the difference between different types of filament.

This is the material that runs through the nozzle and forms the object on the building platform below. The consumer level machines generally specialise in two types of filaments: ABS and PLA. Both of these materials have their own advantages and disadvantages and are suited to different things and knowing about this will be crucial to getting your 3D objects printed properly.


Also known as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, ABS is a petroleum based material that is perfect for durable, tough objects. The cheaper of the two filaments, its flame resistant toughness makes it a great choice for protective clothing, pipes, appliances and car or machine parts. Objects can be sanded down post print, so getting a nice smooth finish is possible.

ABS does, however, come with certain issues. First off, it doesn't smell great while being extruded so you will need a well ventilated area to work in. It's toxic too, so can't used for any kind of food container. It doesn't biodegrade either, though certain machines are being developed that might allow you to recycle old ABS objects.


Polylactic Acid or PLA is made from corn starch, sugar cane, tapioca roots and potato starch. This means it comes with a pleasant smell, biodegrades and can be used for food packaging or utensils. Yet it is also somewhat brittle when cooled and takes a long period of time to cool down.

This means using it for machine components that will be put under a heavy amount of pressure or in a high temperature is not really possible. Also, sanding it down post printing is not really possible.

It is, however, good for medical implants as it degrades eventually within the body. Disposable clothing or any hygiene related products is also printable with PLA.