A Portal To The Future

October 29, 2015
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We made it to the future … now what?

On Oct. 21, 2015, the date Marty McFly and Doc Brown dropped into the future in their DeLorean time machine in the 1989 movie "Back to the Future Part II," we had fun matching prediction with reality (flying cars, not so much; flat-screen TVs, booyah).

While those predictions were for entertainment purposes only, there are professionals who study the future, such as the researchers at CBRE's Global Workplace Solutions, whose goal is to help prepare organizations on how to adapt to the changing demands and expectations of the next generation. Its Smart Workplace 2040 report details the world of work 25 years into the future. It's loaded with valuable insights set against a futuristic backdrop.

While the full report is a must read, we pulled out a few interesting and mind-bending future technologies to which Doc Brown would surely utter, "Great Scott!"

Robots, know thy place
There will be lots of robots in the future.

• iMaid robots with four arms that shop, cook and clean — the best kind of personal assistants because they never judge. There are also autonomous construction robots, cleaning robots, robot buses — all programmed with a do-not-hurt-humans algorithm. (We hope.)

• Business meetings will be attended by robots and avatars that continually reconcile facts and assumptions in real time, for the ultimate in accountability.

• Robox, an autonomous robot box (aka briefcase) that walks behind its owner. (Think R2D2.)

Flying the friendly skies
• Personal air transport vehicles — flying cars have finally arrived — and driverless cars loaded with a rider's personal preferences. Be prepared for lots more drone activity, too.

• COLIBRIS (Collaborative, Open-air, Learning, Internet-enabled Birds for Responsive Intelligence and Surveillance), or, in more simple terms, autonomous, micro-sized unobtrusive security drones disguised as pets. (Is that creepy, or is it just us?)

Be the best you
• An iCocoon, a personal flash center or micro-cave cocoon that helps you accelerate your knowledge cycles. Fifteen minutes is all a person will need to regroup and refocus — sounds even better than a power nap.

• Humans with augmented DNA to improve performance capabilities, resist high levels of stress, and enhance learning and knowledge absorption capabilities. (Yes, overachievers will still exist in the future.)

• Epidermal electronic system: a chip implant that analyzes your bio health indicators to maximize performance and time management. (Researchers allude to ethical debate about EES in the future.)

• The HIVE, a hyper-connected home environment in which smart bedrooms help people transition from deep sleep to awake mode (goodbye alarm clocks) and a smart-house assistant that adjusts lighting, ambiance, music, temperature and scent into a five-sense immersive experience based on how occupants are feeling that day. (No wonder so many people will be working from home in the future.)

There's no doubt the future will be interesting as technology will be ultra prevalent in our daily lives. Though they aren't yet commonplace, many of these technologies already exist in some form. Let's just hope no one disrupts the space-time continuum on our journey into the future.

Illustration by Marie Emilie Sonnois & Creative Connections, courtesy of CBRE Global Workplace Solutions.