Sunday, February 9, 2014

Camping In The Age Of Energy

Futurism spends a lot of time imagining things like rocket ships or artificial intelligence, but what about  camping?  Not everyone likes camping, but if you do, you might wonder what is the future of camping?  How will technological development in the years to come impact peoples experiences and capabilities while living in the wild?

Assuming that the environment can be protected and remains in something like the current state, the main differences of future camping will be in the gear you can get, advancements in material science are even now crafting the next generation of outdoor gear with incredible functionality.  At the base of it all is the possibility of light weight, efficient solar panels providing energy at almost any location, combined with advanced battery technology, this could herald a breakthrough in personal autonomy.

Besides increased ability to gather your own energy, new technology will provide super efficient lights and computers, meaning you will have more power and need less of it.  Advances in LED technology have yielded incredibly functional lights that produce huge volumes of brightness for tiny amounts of electricity, these diodes are so bright they can be used as a streetlight.  Similar advances in computer technology have led to miniaturization on an incredible scale, we are familiar with some of its potential in smartphones, as these devices become more power efficient it will become easier and easier to stay connected wherever you go.

Google wants to create a world wireless network using balloons high up in the atmosphere to transmit signals allowing anyone anywhere in the world to have free wireless access, basically with a smartphone you could be online anywhere.  Read about Google's plan here:

But with all these flashy lights and electric gadgets, what kind of tent will be available in the future?  This comes to the advanced materials, such as carbon nano tubes or graphene that make possible light weight and sophisticated technology.  These same kinds of innovations can be used to create clothing and tents that are intensely resistant to the environment and the elements, it is likely that the tent of the future will be compact, light wight, and very insulated

Using nano materials to build light wight super strong materials is becoming a big industry with the rise of substances like graphene.  Graphene is a hexagonal carbon lattice a single atom thick, despite being very thin it is incredibly, almost unimaginably strong, some have theorized that you could make a very strong tent from this material or something like it, because of the strength of graphene, you could theoretically inflate it with air to give it structure.  Having the nano material tent inflate would give the added advantage of needing no tent poles or other structural materials that add weight to your bag, only a small solar powered air pump is required.

So now that you have your tent, your computer, your lights, what about provisions?  So you walked all the way out here with just your bag, where are you going to get food and water?  This is where a very futuristic technology comes in, something that is predicted by experts in the field of nano technology to be on the horizon in twenty years, this is the nano printer, a molecular assembling machine that can build any substance or object from basic constituent elements.  This device would operate similarly to the replicator on startrek but it would take an input of dirt and air, with a solar panel to power the system.  It could theoretically be small enough to fit on a desk and would interface with a computer where you could control what kind of stuff the machine was creating.

In theory you could create almost any item, food, water, tools, medicine, ect, all you need is the computer file that tells the printer what to create, these files could be downloaded from the internet and printed on demand.  Armed with this technology, one can imagine camping in the future has some interesting possibilities.

Obviously the printer is a little further down the road, but most of these technologies exist now, or are quickly reaching their apex, solar power and battery technology are experiencing great advances, electric car technology as well will allow a greater ability of movement and transportation of materials to distant locations.  Cell phones and computers are power efficient enough to have some use in the wild and Google's balloon plan is in the works, whats more, many powerful material advanced have been made over the years with graphene and carbon nano tubes, with these trends on the rise, the future of camping is coming soon.

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