Veronica Spencer
Engineer, Designer, and Maker

Blog

This is the future, but we've had it for years.

Hello, internet. I'm a Masters' candidate at a school renowned for its innovation and technical prowess, and I am clairvoyant - at least in regards to technology trends and developments.

Every day of my life, I am surrounded by people who are smarter than me doing silly things. They live, breathe, and eat technology, and they are responsible in part for the steady march of progress. My friends are involved in advancements in 3D printing, data processing, rocketry, engineering education, and wearable electronics. We make things for fun, and, even when we break stuff, we sometimes discover exciting new ideas and processes. We're the earliest of the early adopters (for better or worse), and our research ends up in those little shareable videos with cute music that show up on your Facebook news feed... 6 months to 2 years after we’ve finished designing it.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

It's amazing, and, because it's just a fact of life for me, I take this environment for granted. Being an innovator means that I’m consistently at the forward end of the Technology Adoption Life Cycle, and so I frequently find myself wondering how my understanding, adoption, and acceptance of new technologies will change when I finally leave academia. It’s startling to venture home for breaks and see my parents interacting with Voice-Controlled Home Assistants like they’ve always been there, especially since I vividly remember a time when I doggedly introduced voice recognition and neural network training to my mom. Over Christmas, I spent a large chunk of time avoiding watching episodes of Black Mirror with my mom - partially because I’m kind of a wuss, and partially because I recognize just how “near-future” some of the technologies are.

It forces me to stop and think: what will life be like when I’ve spent a few years away from my R&D lifestyle? Will I wake up one morning to discover the next big thing in futuristic technologies only to be caught flat-footed by immediate market saturation as adoption spreads to the late majority of buyers? Will I feel bad because I was caught unawares (as I would now) OR will I relish the low price points and misidentify the nature of that technology as I see my non-R&D friends doing now? I’m not sure.

Regardless, I can’t wait to see what the future holds, even if it’s being developed today.