Futuristic business travel technology is here
Traveling for work seems glamorous at first, but as most frequent business travelers will tell you, it quickly becomes drudgery. After a while, every airport terminal looks the same, and the in-flight entertainment gets as stale as the sandwich you unceremoniously stuffed in your carry-on. It's no wonder that tired travelers spend their free time daydreaming about a futuristic world where nearly instantaneous transportation is the norm. Let's indulge our imaginations together as we look at some of the most interesting, bizarre and downright awesome concepts in futuristic travel today.
You can't talk about futuristic travel without talking about flying cars. One of the earliest renderings of a flying car (technically an aerial steam carriage) is from 1841. It seems that, as soon as man could move with ease on the ground, he wanted to abandon it for the sky. The dream of a future with flying cars is still alive thanks to such innovative companies as Urban Aeronautics, AeroMobil, PAL-V, Moller International and Terrafugia. Just think – instead of sitting through rush-hour traffic on your way to work, you could be soaring through the sky as you listen to podcasts and burn your tongue on overpriced coffee that you bought from a surly robotic barista with lug nuts for gauges.
These only available for preorder, but we're not far from a future when we'll all be wearing earbuds like these that translate languages in real time. That's right, several companies are working on earpieces that will transform the way people think about international business forever. Imagine a world with no language barriers at all – that's the goal for such companies as Waverly Labs, Mymanu and ili, which are all currently pioneering wearable auditory translation technology.
Charging gadgets through the air
Someday, possibly sooner than you think, tangled power cords and international adapters will be a distant memory, like video rentals and pay phones. At CES 2017, a company called Ossia showcased its latest invention, called the Cota Tile. The Cota Tile is a ceiling tile with a built-in transmitter that can remotely charge smartphones, wearables, laptops and other devices by sending the charge through the air. Once a tiny receiver is installed in each device, the Cota Tile can automatically sense and power your electronics as needed, and the more tiles in a space, the more power is available. There are already wireless power sources available for specific devices on the market, but something that can be physically built into airports, hotels and other public spaces feels like the true end goal.
Wouldn't it be great to slash the time it takes to travel between vast regions without ever setting foot in an airport? That's one of the major benefits of trains that use magnetic levitation, which reduces friction and allows smooth high-speed travel. Technically this is already a thing, and it's called a maglev train, but since they're only operational in a few locations worldwide, they're still futuristic for most business travelers. The fastest maglev train in the world is currently in Japan, and it can travel an astounding 375 mph. It may only be a matter of time before these super-fast trains become the worldwide standard, and business travel will never be the same.
What's crazier than a flying car? How about locking yourself in a pressurized capsule that gets shot through a steel tube at about 600 mph? Welcome to the hyperloop, an awesome idea that's probably decades (if not longer) away from being a reality. Innovators such as SpaceX, Hyperloop Technologies, TransPod and DGWHyperloop are working around the clock to make hyperloop travel a reality. Hyperloop travel wouldn't just impact businesspeople who travel internationally, although it would be a tremendous advantage for them; it would also change the way people think about daily commutes. High-speed travel options would make it feasible to live on the beach in Miami and work in downtown Atlanta, and the commute would take about the same amount of time it takes to travel on the New York City subway from Queens to Manhattan.
If you hate carrying your own luggage, get ready to be happy. Travelmate Robotics is currently raising Indiegogo money for its adorable/creepy robotic suitcase that can be programmed to follow you around like a dutiful four-wheeled dog. You can use your smartphone to control the Travelmate, and the suitcase has other unique features, including a handle that turns into a portable desk (great for working during long layovers) and a battery that can charge electronics via USB. The Travelmate isn't the only robotic suitcase approaching the market; Cowarobot is gearing up to sell its dystopian suitcase henchmen to the public (they cry if you get too far away, and each comes with a handcuff to measure that distance), as is Olive Robotics and a few others.
Suspended monorails have been around for a long time, but until recently, they've been confined to amusement parks and airports with terrible layouts. Now SkyTran, headquartered at the NASA Ames Research Center, is trying to change all of that, and it looks like it's succeeding. The company has already tested and debuted its futuristic self-driving pods, which hang from a monorail and reach a maximum speed of 155 mph. While this might seem like something that's a long time from happening, SkyTran insists that it will debut its first fully functional system in Lagos, Nigeria, by 2020.