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#1: By the end of 2010, one-third of all automotive ads will focus exclusively on software-driven features that emphasize future car’s ability to interpret, react and connect to the external environment. Far less emphasis will be placed on car’s physical appearance and performance.
#2: One 4-year college will decrease its tuition by more than 5% in 2010 citing growing pressure from online universities; 10 universities will follow Princeton’s lead and begin distributing e-Books (such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader) to incoming students; and at least 100 other colleges and universities will follow Boston University’s lead in eliminating email addresses for incoming freshmen.
#3: The sale of solar cells will grow faster than expected due to innovations in new financing models that minimize or eliminate altogether the large up-front costs currently associated with installing solar modules.
#4: The first fully robotic vehicle will become operational in Iraq and Afghanistan and will successfully deliver military supplies more than 25 miles without the aid of any humans.
#5: A socially-networked song in which none of the band members knew one another prior to the song’s release will become a Billboard Top Ten hit. The band will attempt to conduct a conventional tour but will soon breakup citing “artistic differences.” The real cause: they find they just don’t like one another.
#6:The first cyborg soldier—with above average human capabilities in terms of strength, speed and/or vision—will return to active duty. Nicknamed “Steve Austin” by his fellow soldiers; the technology inside “the bionic man” (or bionic woman) will cost far less than 6 million dollars.
#7: An amateur scientist using cheap supercomputers accessed through “the cloud” will make a major scientific discovery. Her discovery will have initially been dismissed by peer-reviewed journals but hailed by the growing number of “open-science” advocates.
#8: A full two years before its first-ever “Space Tourism” launch, Galactic Suite Ltd will lower the price of its three-day trip to space from $4.4 million to $2 million.
#9: A physician in India will perform a prostectonomy on a patient in a different country using only a high-speed Internet connection and da Vinci robotic surgical device. The “medical tourist” in Sri Lanka will return to the United States the following day.
#10: A new iPhone app will be created which overlays a “Nascar-like” suit over the images of Congressmen and other prominent politicians to reveal from whom they are receiving campaign contributions. The size of the “patch” will vary according to the amount of campaign contributions they have received from the organization. The new app will bring heightened attention to the burgeoning field of augmented reality.
#11: An RFID chip embedded in the arm of an elderly Alzheimer patient will be credited with saving the man from freezing to death after he strolled away from his residence in the middle of the night and became disoriented.
#12: A leading concrete company will call for a ban on carbon dioxide emissions from concrete because its nanotechnology-enable concrete will be certified as a “CO2 neutral.”
#13: Hype surround algae’s promise as the “bio-fuel of the future” will grow hot after a breakthrough in the field of synthetic biology. Environmental advocates, however, will draw parallels between the advent of the “designer bacteria” (which is used to convert algae into fuel) and the creation of genetically modified organisms. The issue of “Frankenbugs” will gain traction in the media.
#14: Mind-control toys will grow from a small niche product in 2009 to the latest “must-have” toy by the 2010 holiday season. The technology will sell very well among kids under the age of 10 and seniors over the age of 65. Interest in brain-neural technology will also be driven by plummeting prices and increased product performance.
#15: Synthetically grown diamonds will make their way into the commercial marketplace but the diamond industry will have no ability to discern the products from “natural” diamonds. The diamond industry will attempt to downplay the significance of the event but will quietly ramp up efforts to regulate and control the creation of synthetic diamonds.
#16: A robotic pet that also serves as a companion, watch dog, vacuum cleaner and a personal healthcare monitor will be unveiled in Japan and marketed to the seniors. Voice recognition technology inside the robot will also be able to detect if a person”s speech is slurring and will connect to a healthcare professional immediately.
#17: The cost of sequencing an individual’s genome will drop to less than $1000. The breakthrough will lead to the creation of a rash of new social networking sites around different genetic dispositions in order to deal with the avalanche of genetic information. Genetic counseling will become one of the fastest growing professions in the coming decade.
#18: The growing sophistication of language translational software (available on such platforms as Google Wave) will cause leading corporations to revisit some job descriptions which currently require candidates to speak two languages. Citing the technology’s ability to facilitate conversations with native speakers, the city of Paris will become an even more popular tourist destination.
#19: A conservative state legislator will introduce legislation prohibiting healthy individuals (i.e. non-injured combat veterans) from using implanted brain-neural technology to control objects outside their body. The bill will die in committee but the author and other supporters vow to make it a campaign issue in 2010.
#20: Technology artisans will begin using inexpensive rapid prototype manufacturing equipment to develop new pieces of art and jewelry of previously unseen sophistication, complexity and beauty. More traditional artisans will ask that “non hand-made” products be banned from local art fairs.
The “Back to the Future” Prediction of 2010: A barefoot runner will win a major marathon and fuel a growing trend among recreational runners to run without shoes.
Jack Uldrich is an author, futurist, keynote speaker and host of jumpthecurve.net. He is the author of seven books, including Jump the Curve and The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business. He is also a frequent speaker on future technology and future trends, nanotechnology, innovation, change management and executive leadership to a variety of businesses, industries and non-profit organizations and trade associations. He can be contacted at 612.267.1212 or .