There is a place where you can hold a library in your hand, watch a car drive itself and create objects out of virtually thin air.
It's called the present.
The dawn of the 21st century came with incredible innovations and futuristic designs that previous generations only dreamed of, including smartphones, driverless cars and advanced, commercially viable 3D printing technologies. And that’s all in the first 13 years.
Just imagine how much more we can do. Some enterprising designers are already doing it. Take a look at these designs that could reshape your world very soon.
1. Penn Station Re-Imagined
Penn Station has been a longstanding hub for commuters in the heart of Manhattan, serving 300,000 New Yorkers daily. Located under Madison Square Garden, the station—which opened in 1910 and was rebuilt in 1964—is in need of a serious facelift.
That could be a reality with the expiration of Madison Square Garden’s operations contract, paving the way for a new, futuristic transportation hub.
Four architecture firms have submitted ideas for the new structure. The designs include everything from a spacious atrium that lets in natural light to a futuristic “city within a city.” Check out the designs here.
2. Flying Higher with Smarter Skies
If airplane manufacturer Airbus has its way, your entire airline experience could change by 2050.
At least, that’s the idea behind the company’s Smarter Skies initiative, a series of innovative designs for better planes and more efficient flight operations.
The plans include aircraft that are more ecologically friendly and quieter during takeoff, as well as improvements to aircraft fuel consumption and flight patterns.
The Airbus graphics team has produced some stellar renderings of what these inventions will look like. Check out the videos and still frames of the project.
The innovative technologies aren’t limited to the airplanes themselves: Engineers and designers at Airbus are employing a range of cutting-edge tools to design the future, including 3Dconnexion 3D mice.
3. 3D Printing on the Catwalk
The next haute couture you see draped over some celebrity’s shoulder could come from a printer—a 3D printer, to be exact.
3D printing is a concept that has been around for awhile, but only lately has it bred a wide variety of applications. 3D printed fashion is one of the latest.
Malaysia, long a fashion hub, is on the forefront of the trend thanks to a recent 3D printed fashion show that showcased headwear, body jewelry and shoes.
The technology is also being used in other ways. Before production, some fashion students 3D print out prototypes to work out design flaws. And new 3D printing technology could help you print your own clothes right at home.
The possibilities of 3D printing are endless—and fashion may just be that stylish icing on the cake. Think you could be rocking a 3D printed hat or a pair of new kicks soon?
4. Welcome to Vertical Park
What kinds of parks will our kids or grandkids grow up playing in? Ones that scale vertically like a building, according to the imagination of architect Jorge Hernandez de la Garza.
His idea is to create a vertical structure (like a skyscraper) for gardens, water collection and urban farming. Not only does the park take up less space, but it also would be solar-powered—both serious advantages in densely populated urban areas.
5. A Better Cast for Broken Bones
Casts for broken bones haven’t changed much in the last century. They’re clunky, smelly and itchy, so university student Jake Evill designed a better, lighter and cleaner cast that can be 3D printed.
Evill’s cast, named the Cortex, mimics the honeycomb pattern of the body’s inner bone structure and is a mere 3 millimeters thick. It’s also lightweight: The whole cast weighs less than 500 grams.
Evill also plans to 3D scan fractured limbs, creating custom-printed casts for a snug and optimal fit.
It just goes to show: 3D design advancements like these aren't simply building better, more attractive structures. They're also protecting the structures we can't do without: our own bodies.
It’s clear that we have a bright design future ahead of us. Have you heard of any conceptual designs that have caught your attention? Let us know in the comments!
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