Years ago, “The Jetsons” made me think that flying cars and shorter work days would be a reality in the near future. Well, here we are in 2014 and we’ve still yet to see cars zooming through the sky and a 9am-to-12pm workday really settle into our conscience. But we’re close. Our phones are as powerful as our computers and our thermostats have touch screens and wi-fi; technology is moving forward whether we can see it or not. But how far are we from some of the more common sense technological advances our childhoods prepped us for?
Here are 20 practical tech ideas that are way past overdue.
1. Routers that let new users connect instantly by solving an owner-preset riddle.
16-digit pass codes are a bit cumbersome to share with house guests, sometimes. Answering a riddle correctly, though, would make the process a little more fun.
2. Medical records that instantly transfer from one hospital to another.
My new doctor in my new town should immediately be able to pull up my medical history from my previous town. Isn’t this what the cloud is for?
3. Car parts that instantly alert your mechanic when something’s wrong with it.
This would save so many trips to the auto repair shop. Knowing right away when something goes wrong with your car? This sounds priceless.
4. One single universal charger.
Guys, it’s kind of ridiculous that there are 50 different USB tips and that Apple comes out with their own every year. Let’s get it together!
5. Refrigerators that scan what’s inside and let you know what you can cook.
Currently, there are apps that do this sort of thing. You punch in some ingredients and out pops some recipes you can mess around with. But having a fridge that can do that on its own? My mouth is watering already.
6. Robots that can be good dance instructors.
Sometimes, you just need a good merengue partner at a moment’s notice. Robots could help with that.
7. Car radios that play music based on your mood.
My car should know when to play me that fun campfire sing-a-long and when to play me something that I need to laugh at.
8. Cell phone batteries that last for weeks.
I’d like to be able to play a whole game of Angry Birds without my phone threatening to die on me.
9. Pillows that self-cool and self-fluff so that you don’t have to wake up to do it.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to plug my pillows into outlets just yet, but maybe there’s a wireless solution to this whole waking-up-with-the-pillow-stuck-to-my-face thing.
10. Laptop volume that gets louder as your environment gets louder.
If you’re in a crowded place and want to watch a hilarious YouTube fail video, chances are you’re out of luck. Unless your laptop volume adapts to the environment and gets louder when it has to. That’d be awesome.
11. Cell phones that ring just so you can leave and avoid an awkward conversation.
I should be able to say a safe word of some sort that’ll trigger an escape ringtone and get me out of awkward interactions with people.
12. A dryer that stops the moment your clothes are completely dry.
Saving some money on your electric bill each month is always something worth cheering. And a dryer that knows exactly when to power off would give you something to cheer about.
13. Airplane overhead seat lamps that dim when you start dozing off.
Similar to the previous point, when that in-flight movie starts knocking me out, the light should just know.
14. Traffic lights that turn red or green based on the intersection activity.
It makes no sense why I have to sit through a traffic light for 3 minutes when only 1 car crosses the intersection that whole time. Smart traffic lights are coming, but they’re not everywhere just yet.
15. Laptop browsers that zoom in when you lean back in your chair.
I want to be able to sit back in my chair but not have to squint to read what’s on my screen.
16. Refrigerators that let you know when its contents are expired.
Those product barcodes have to be good for something, right?
17. TVs that place preset orders for pizza whenever Netflix is being streamed on it.
Let’s face it. We probably want to scarf down a whole pie when we’re binge-watching Breaking Bad late at night.
18. Cars that pay at the pump so that you don’t have to.
On-board wi-fi and a car that just pays the bills when you don’t want to reach in your pocket for your wallet? Sounds like utopia.
19. Laptop webcams that self-troubleshoot whenever there’s a call audio/video issue.
I’d just do the same 3 or 4 things anyway to resolve the issue… before restarting the conference call. Might as well let the computer handle that stuff.
20. Baths that ready themselves when I come home from work.
I’m sure the smart technology is out there for this and nothing would make a workday feel better than a hot bath that you didn’t have to prepare.
So, those flying cars may be far off and completely unnecessary for the time being. But these other 20 things? Somebody really needs to get to work on making them reality.