18 year old Esha Khare in the United States wins a prize awarded by Intel by inventing a SuperCapacitor that will someday, someday soon that is, will lead to you recharging your Smartphone in 20 seconds or less. And this will be before the Smartphone is rendered obsolete by wearable computers that fulfil the functions of both mobile computers and mobile phones. The news of this innovation comes in 2013.
Over the next 37 years till 2050, inventors, innovators, engineers and scientists like Esha Khare, particularly the ones that are born after the coming about of iPhones and Google Glass, will be exploring, discovering, tinkering and inventing technological methods, tools, systems and devices, that will continue to do what Esha Khare’s invention does; store more power, in lesser space and hold it for longer.
Eventually, you will not just have systems to charge your smart devices almost instantaneously. You will have batteries, that will power ovens, televisions, printers, air-conditioners, pretty much everything that runs on electricity in your homes and your office. Why? Off course, so that you can move them around. And you no longer need the grid.
Next, imagine, if all these things that run on batteries, get recharged by just light, like the solar powered calculator? What is stopping such devices, such as your microwave oven from running on batteries today that are solar powered? You can’t capture, generate or store enough energy to make it work today. This does not mean, that will not be able to eventually.
37 years down the road from today, we are anticipating a world and lifestyle where everything is connected, we’re using gadgets of various types to enhance our living experience for entertainment, learning and working. And for convenience we’d want to bring them around with us, especially the future Personal Computing Devices (PCDs) that will help us connect to everything, that we will heavily depend on, which will be tiny and wearable, but requiring power all the time. We will not have the luxury of being able to take a break, plug in all these various devices, including our cars that will no longer run on petroleum or gas but electricity. We’ll have to depend on the sun to charge all these things we’ll own and use, sufficiently, so that they can continue running for a long-time without sunlight in its absence such as at night or in prolonged periods of bad weather, prolonged periods underground or underwater and so on.
It is not a question of “ifs” and possibilities. It is a question of when this will happen. Already, before hearing of Esha Khare and her invention, this futurist blog has already had a post on alternative energy sources of today becoming mainstream tomorrow, solar powered jets and cars, that can continue running no matter what, never running out of “fuel”. The reason why we can forecast the development of technology as such, is that such is the direction of energy or power related research and direction at the present; how do we minimise, use less for more, generate more quickly, power more, do more, etc.
Whether we have identified it enmass or not globally, we are already effectively in an age of innovation, past the age of information. And the generations after ours, like that of teenage Esha Khare, will be about new ideas, new inventions, without the need of instruction, organisation or commission as triggers or motivators. What will come with that, is a high pace of accelerated development towards a decrease in difficulty, cost, price, size, material and inputs. The importance of noting this reality is simple; the world of business and industry will see a constance of rapid and regular change technologically for a prolonged period of time over decades. The implication of everything running on batteries, that never run out, is that manufacturers will have to rethink how the manufacture products requiring energy and energy businesses will have to rethink how and what they will sell. Something that investors will have to keep thinking about very carefully and deeply for a long time to come.