Regulation, rather than the technology, is more of a limiting factor for getting delivery drones off the ground. But Pearson said by 2018, drones will be used to deliver things like packages to hospitals.
But he doesn't see delivery drones being allowed to become too widespread. It may be used for some package delivery, but not everyday activities like pizza delivery, he said.
We already know we're getting closer to seeing a Hyperloop, a high-speed propulsion system, after seeing the first test run by start-up Hyperloop One in May. Hyperloop One has actually partnered with the City of Moscow to bring one to Russia.
Pearson said he expects to see a short-range Hyperloop that transports people between two cities in five to six years time.
Pearson said he thinks it's very feasible that computers could gain consciousness by 2025, perhaps even earlier in 2020.
"Google's DeepMind isn't there yet, but really I'm sure they'll probably discover those things along the way, and by 2020, it's possible their computer could be superhuman and could be conscious," he said. "That could be the beginning of the end, really."
That prediction actually gives Musk some leeway in realizing his vision of getting people to Mars. Musk said at Vox's Code Conference in June said he plans to send astronauts to the red planet in 2024 so they get there by 2025.
"We will see first people going off to mars, and then robots will do some basic stuff like making basic materials [on Mars,]" Pearson said. "We're going to have to do that because only so much can be brought to space."
We've started seeing people use advanced prosthetics already. James Young, a 25-year-old biological scientist, has a prosthetic arm with a personal drone and built-in flashlight. And a French artist is using a prosthetic that doubles as a tattoo gun.
Pearson said prosthetics will continue to get more advanced to the point where people are fully comfortable with technology merging with the body. For example, he said people could choose to get cybernetic implants in their legs to make them stronger.
The most obvious example of this is the exoskeleton suit, Pearson said. Hyundai recently created an exoskeleton suit that can make heavy lifting easier.
But Pearson said he can also envision other kinds of advanced clothing, like leggings that make it easier to walk and run. Or a Spiderman-like suit made with Polymer gels that can improve strength.
"You could take students to an environment in the past and show them what was happening, like watching a battle taking place," Pearson said. "You can explain that sort of thing more easily if they can see it happening, than if you are looking at a textbook."
Google's Expedition App already lets students take trips in VR to places like the Great Barrier Reef. The app first launched in beta form in September.
Pearson said by 2025 smartphones will be rendered obsolete thanks to advancements in augmented reality.
"If it's 2025 and you have a smartphone, people will laugh at you," he said.
It will be possible to pull up screens in AR via a tiny bracelet or other piece of jewelry in the next 10 years, making it unnecessary to carry around a smartphone. Companies like Magic Leap are working to bring AR into the mainstream.
Whether that comes in the form of a car is up for debate, Pearson said.
Pearson described a ride-sharing system where people would order "cheap steel boxes" that could drive people around. The pod-like system would be a more cost-effective driverless system than something complicated like a driverless car.
Still, with so many automakers and tech companies working self-driving cars, it does seem likely we could see one in use in a decade.
Architects around the globe have actually been racing to build the world's first 3D-printed house.
In China, a company named Winsun said it built 10 3D-printed houses in one day — each costing just $5,000. A professor at USC is working on a gigantic 3D printer that can build an entire house, with electrical and plumbing conduits.
Pearson said the ability to 3D print cheaper houses will be a major asset as cities become increasingly more crowded.
"Between artificial intelligence and robotics, we'll have quite a lot of assistant tech and some companionship since a lot of people will be living alone," Pearson said. "So companionship is one of the primary goals for future robots."
Toyota has already announced its plans to build robots geared toward assisting people around the house.
Pearson said advancements in nanotechnology will make it possible to plug our brains into computers and live in a simulated world.
"You can certainly make something a bit like the Matrix, if you wanted to," Pearson told Tech Insider. "Around 2045, 2050, you could link people's brains to the computers so much that they believe they’re living in a virtual world."
Pearson said the concept is a bit like what Tesla CEO Elon Musk outlined when he talked about neural lace at the Vox Media's Code Conference in Southern California.
Neural lace is a wireless brain-computer system that would add a digital layer of intelligence to our brain. It's a concept nanotechnologists have been working on.
If we can link people's brains to computers by 2045, then we could use similar technology to turn people into part-machine, part-human.
That's why Pearson said he does buy into Musk's neural lace theory. But even though he thinks the technology will be ready, Pearson said he predicts government regulations will prevent most people from using it.
"I don't think it's politically possible anytime soon," he said. "I don't think we will allow technologically-enhanced soldiers with super advanced minds or executives hooked up to machines."
We're actually already starting to see this with products like Amazon's Echo, which lets users control the lights in their homes and access other information. By 2040, AI will be built into buildings themselves, so you can talk to the building and ask for adjustments in temperature or lighting.
"Artificial intelligence will be a big home servant," Pearson said.
Pearson also highlighted this in a report he put together with construction equipment rental company Hewden.
More cities will elect to create high-rise buildings with floors dedicated to gyms, residential space, and office work to accommodate the influx of people that will move into cities over the next two decades, Pearson said.
Pearson said we won't need to use fossil fuels to power things on the ground, like houses and cars, by 2050, but that it will still be necessary to run planes.
Improvements in underwater cabling will allow countries to use solar power from places like the Sahara Desert to power their entire country. The ability to draw solar energy from areas with more access to sun will increase our reliance on solar power over time.
"I'm very optimistic that maybe by 2030 we might start seeing these very large solar farms appearing in the Sahara," he told Tech Insider.
He added that nuclear fusion is also on track to power homes by 2045. China actually hit a huge milestone recently when it was able recreate solar conditions for well over a minute at its nuclear fusion plant.
"We don't need fossil fuels on the ground past 2050," he said.
Pearson said rocket companies like Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX will push the envelope with space travel enough that tourism will be feasible in the year 2050.
"Someone who could afford to pay 100 million quid could spend a week in orbit... but it would only be for rich people in 2050." he said. "It's not going to be something that's cheap anytime soon."
The Internet of Things and sensor technologies can facilitate a challenging supply chain process.
The year 2020 brought extraordinary challenges that forced many to overcome and find atypical solutions. As 2021 is being welcomed with open arms, there is a renewed sense of hope and optimism, knowing that governments and pharmaceutical companies are working tirelessly to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines with the intent of safely returning people to everyday life and a sense of normalcy soon.
When it comes to the development, shipping and distribution of the vaccines, there are a few key challenges that pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, logistics service providers and distributors must be mindful of to ensure the vaccines' safe dispersal: tracking shipments to ensure their timely arrival, as well as proper temperature control to make sure they will be safely distributed. The worldwide distribution of the vaccines—in some cases at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit)—is putting a spotlight on how Internet of Things (IoT)-based sensor technologies can help to enable a challenging supply chain process.
Different use cases in logistics, specifically cold-chain logistics, have unique requirements that need to be independently addressed. In some cases, power must be prioritized, so IoT technology that offers long range and low power consumption qualities may be the right choice. This type of technology also leverages new and better ways to provide geolocation services, which allow cargo, vehicles and other assets to be easily monitored over large geographic regions and within harsh environments.
In scenarios in which long distances may not be traveled, battery life may be a lower priority for a customer, and the user might consider utilizing other types of IoT technologies that are more suitable for their specific use case.IoT technologies can make it easy and affordable for enterprises to track assets throughout supply chains in combination with condition monitoring, which is not limited to temperatures but could also include humidity, shock and other parameters.
COVID-19 vaccine distribution has very much put the spotlight on the importance of temperature control, which must be highly accurate during transit and when the vaccines are stored at healthcare facilities. For example, Moderna's vaccine vials must maintain consistent temperatures and may be stored in refrigerators at between 2 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees and 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to 30 days before vials are punctured.
According to a CDC report, Moderna advises that the vaccine vial storage unit temperatures be monitored regularly, and that they be checked and recorded at the beginning of each workday to determine if any excursions have occurred since the last temperature check. Instead of having employees perform manual checks, sensors can do this automatically, alerting staff members if any temperature is about to go out of range.
Additionally, IoT sensors can be placed throughout a healthcare facility to monitor the temperatures of different refrigerators and the vials themselves. The sensors have the ability to periodically measure temperature levels, then send the collected data to a gateway, which forwards that information to a cloud-based application where it will be analyzed. From there, hospital personnel or facility managers would be alerted to any temperature outliers, so that they can be reassured vials are safely stored or take action if necessary.
The use of IoT-enabled sensors can help to ensure the quality of an asset, such as a vaccine, while minimizing the risk of human error. Since such sensors can monitor temperatures in real time, and all of the time, they can help to ensure that vials will not fall out of temperature range. While there is still a way to go before we can safely return to normal, it seems like we're heading in the right direction. IoT technology shows just as much promise, demonstrating to everyone that there are more options for ensuring the safe distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines and other goods globally.