1. Advanced genomics and personalized medicine.
Studies in DNA sequencing mean that in the next decade, cancer may become a “manageable disease.” Doctors will be capable of mapping a tumor’s genes and predicting the best way to attack cancer before tumors become resistant to treatment.
2. The injury-proof car.
Volvo has promised to release the “virtually” injury-proof car by 2020. The vehicle will ensure that passengers and drivers survive all but the most shocking car crashes by making the car more resistant to damage. The company will also install radar and sonar devices to have the car steer and brake on its own in the event of a crash — a 10mph decrease alone would cut the death rate by 50%.
3. 3D printing.
Using digital models to create solid, three-dimensional objects has become cheaper and more widespread over the past decade. Now, it’s becoming a revelation in the medical world: This year, we have used 3D printing technology to design, map, and produce actual kidneys, blood vessels, and human tissue.
4. Prosthetic limbs that restore the sense of touch.
A new technology is providing amputees with the ability to actually feel their contact with the world, rather than using visuals to make prosthetics work. The Flat Interface Nerve Electrode (FINE) system, which was developed by DARPA and researchers at Case Western University, works by intertwining itself with any intact nerves and giving direct sensory feedback.
5. Portable laser pens that can heal wounds.
A group of Israeli physicists have been using the heat from laser light to weld flesh back together. This new method is proving to be superior to traditional stitching, healing faster and better. It will allow less-qualified surgeons and medics to carry laser pens on their person to heal people in emergencies.
6. The sunscreen pill.
Using research about the way coral shields itself against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, scientists are developing a pill to prevent the entire body from sunburn. They say it could be available as early as 2016.
It’s finally happened: The future is here. Far from the terrifying, evil depictions of robots in mass media, they are proving to be a positive force. From helping autistic children to teaching English to searching disaster sites for survivors, robots are going places humans cannot. They are even being used to safely search for bombs on public transport (above).
8. Brain-controlled prosthetic devices that will allow paralyzed patients to move again.
The Walk Again Project aims to restore full mobility to patients with devastating levels of paralysis by harnessing their brain impulses to directly control sophisticated neuroprostheses. If all goes according to plan, the first kick of next year’s FIFA World Cup will be delivered by a Brazilian teenager who is paralyzed from the waist down.
9. Smart glasses to help blind people “see.”
Oxford University scientists are developing a new pair of “smart glasses” that will help blind people move around by using cameras to translate signs into speech. The product will interact with patients’ residual ability to perceive light and motion by using LED images coupled with auditory directions to help the wearer.
10. Injectable tissue engineering.
Biomedical engineers at John Hopkins University are developing a method of treating damaged joints that could do away with joint replacement surgery altogether. By injecting joints with mixtures of cells, growth stimulators, and polymers, the team is able to grow healthy tissue. This could also be extended to include vital organs like the liver and heart, negating the need for invasive heart surgery.
Not only is technology constantly changing the way we live, it’s now educating us and increasing our chances of a long and wonderful life. Check out LIVESTRONG’s social network for social good: a hub for people worldwide to learn, share and support one another in the fight against cancer.