Infographic of the Day: The Next 25 Years in Emerging Tech

A smart, comprehensive timeline of over 50 of the buzziest technologies.

Infographic of the Day: The Next 25 Years in Emerging Tech

Everyday, we blitz you with news of exotic technologies that will change the world — and so does everyone else. You’d have to be Ray Kurzweil to keep it all straight. But luckily, technologist Michell Zappa has created a simple cheat sheet mapping out all the buzziest technologies in development today.


[Click to see full-size]

There are two layers of data at work here. The first is obvious: Central nodes represent distinct branches of tech development, from software to AI to internet to “UBICOMP” — that is, ubiquitous computing. From those nodes, the various technologies in development sprout.

But the second layer of data is where the real futurism lies. The various nodes and technologies are arranged so that ones further off lie on toward the outside of the chart; ones that already exist or almost exist lie closer to the center. Thus, you can see here an approximate timeline of how ubiquitous computing will develop:


Electronic paper is already here; pico projectors are near; and retinal displays and skin-embedded screens are perhaps two decades off.

But you’ll notice that not all the nodes lie at similar places in the chart — showing that we haven’t really begun to see true manifestations with some branches of tech. Take AI — full-blown AI of the sort we see in sci-fi is probably 10 years off, but today we’re starting to see vague intimations of what the technology can do. Machine translation and recommendation engines are already here, but the real payoff, as indicated by the placement of the AI node, is somewhere in the future:


See the full-size version here.

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.



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