In the not-too-distant future, it's conceivable that everything will be connected to the Internet-- not just people, but also different sensor-laden parts of people, as well as appliances, roads, signs, even the air and atmosphere. Scroll through this gallery for just a few snapshots from a day when Internet access is ubiquitous even in remote areas, allowing for completely smart cities like the one pictured where the roads collect solar power and control embedded traffic signals, the Internet and vice versa. Ping! Looks like that open parking spot under the shady tree just sent you a notification.
While handheld scanners and aroma-sniffing ripeness-sensing labels already exist, connecting them up to the Internet of Things in the future could mean that ripe and rotten fruits and veggies are auto-sorted, putting an end to so many seconds wasted on squeezing, tapping and sniffing.
Caption byEric Mack / Photo by Ripesense screenshot by Eric Mack / CNET
The NoPhone, a fake phone designed to encourage more face-to-face interaction, is a joke, but as everything goes online, anti-technology movements may become more serious. So far though, aside from the recent protests against the techie influx in San Francisco (which are really more about housing and other economic issues), the neo-Luddite movement hasn't gained much traction, probably because its leaders are so bad about responding to emails.
Connecting everything in the world requires a pervasive network that's available everywhere. Google's Project Loon is experimenting with balloons to connect the last fully unwired parts of the world, and other big names like Facebook and SpaceX are looking at using drones and micro satellites for the same purposes.
Sensors exist today to connect snow level monitors along ski runs via the Internet of Things. A decade from now, it could be possible to see obstacles downhill or under a very thin cover of snow thanks to more ubiquitous sensors and augmented-reality helmets.
RFID chips made by Hitachi are shown above in a slide near a thick black line. That line is a human hair under magnification. These chips are technology from 2006. By 2026, "smart dust" chips like this could float around on the wind, constantly measuring the weather and other atmospheric conditions.