NEW gadgets and advances do not simply fall out of the sky. There are lengthy research and development processes that need to be completed before a product can successfully make it to the market. Thankfully this gives us sufficient warning to prepare our thoughts and opinions on future and imminent technologies. Here's some to keep a close eye on.

Machine learning AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Shows like Black Mirror depict AI as something to be feared in the form of unstoppable robot bodies. The truth is that AI will achieve so much more for us in the coming years. It can solve problems in a fraction of the time needed by the average mind. This opens up a world of possibilities from personalised medical treatment based on genetics to waste management where AI can determine the exact chemical composition of an item and assign it to an appropriate recycling method.

Autonomous vehicles

Advancement in machine learning AI is starting to make a big impact in systems like Google-owned Waymo's autonomous service. Imagine if you had the ability to tap into the memory of anyone who ever had an accident and instantly learn from it. This is what AI brings to the future of commutes. It might take another five to 10 years to perfect, but still beats the timescales of flying cars.

Fusion power

Nuclear fusion has always been the holy grail of clean and sustainable energy production as its main fuel hydrogen isotopes are ample in sea water and only a tiny amount is needed to kick-off a reaction to near limitless energy. Recent breakthroughs in containment and modelling promise to bring fusion earlier than expected prompting Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to invest in the technology.

Quantum communications

Methods for the secure exchange of information are as valuable at the transferred information itself and none more so than quantum communication which utilises the laws of physics. It asserts that particles (quantum bits or qubits) in transit can be in multiple states or combinations at the same time. This process allows the receiver to determine if a hacker has attempted to tamper with the data as the qubits will have collapsed into a state not expected. This process can also be used to encrypt data making it even more secure.

5G wireless network

Fifth generation (5G) wireless networks have arrived to mixed reviews but the underlying infrastructure speed when implemented properly allows a true Internet of Things to be created. This has far reaching implications for all mobile devices including autonomous vehicles which need constant access to information in a cloud to operate. This could mean the success of both 5G and smart cars are interlinked.