Top tech advances for 2012

From invisible tanks to radar that can see through walls, the GCN Lab's coverage this year points to some jaw-dropping technology developments in 2012.

We are in the future. Or at least that’s what it feels like to me. Upon looking back at all the technological advances that the GCN Lab reported on or tested in 2011, I can’t help but get the feeling that the reverse-nostalgic future we’ve all envisioned is nigh. Here are five technologies we covered that point to some truly jaw-dropping developments for 2012.

You are a superhero

The consumer electronics front got a boost this year. Portable eye-scanners were introduced to the commercial market. Biometric authentication can be implemented remotely, and security personnel can add one more item to their utility belts and feel more like Batman. And everyone knows – superheroes are the future.

We don’t need no stinkin’ focus

The Lytro Light Field Camera is perfect for the amateur photographer who has trouble getting the focus just right. This camera records information on the direction of light rays reflecting off of photographed objects, so decisions on where the focus should be can be made in post production, when you’re looking at the perfect image on the computer.

Can a Star Trek-style holodeck be far behind?

You can’t hide

Military applications of future-tech were prevalent this year. When radar developed by MIT that can see through walls is perfected, troops will be able to determine exactly what might be in a building without having to risk lives by physically entering the unknown.

And when Alabama-based company Photon-X completes their facial-recognition camera as contracted by the Air Force, it will be a heck of a lot easier to identify and track criminals and terrorists by tiny motions in facial muscles that are unique to everyone.

Invisible tanks and tractor beams, oh my!

The thermal plates being developed by BAE will allow commanders to make their tanks invisible to infrared sensors, or even give off the outline of a smaller vehicle. Who knows – one day we might see a tractor beam that can move a tank, but that tank will already be harder to spot and target.

We salute our new machine overlords

What excites me the most about the near future are the computers that we’ll have. With tri-gate transistors that have three points of contact for the gate between the terminals, we will have processors with twice as many transistors as are currently available, operating with much less power than before.

The “racetrack” memory that IBM is working on can retrieve and write single bits of data in a billionth of a second. If they can pack on a bunch of bits onto each microscopic wire, then we will have ridiculously fast memory with huge capacity.

And if all of our portable computers have batteries using the silicon-graphene material in the anode currently being developed by Northwestern University, then they will also last 10 times longer, with one tenth the recharge time.

I long for this day to arrive. Come on, future, get over here! Hmm. Santa, for Christmas can I ask for the future? What, too soon?

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