Imec has been around for 35 years now. An ideal moment to look back at the past? There are certainly many reasons to do so. For instance, our research center has experienced unprecedented growth (from just 70 employees back then to more than 4000 today). It has also expanded beyond Belgium’s borders (today we have offices and research groups in 7 countries). Working with the chip industry, we have made computer chips ever-better and cheaper – resulting in smartphones with more features than a Swiss Army penknife. Which is why we don’t seem to be able to do without them anymore.
But isn’t it much more interesting to look into the future when it’s your birthday? For example, as far as 2035. Will we still be carrying our smartphones around with us then? Or will they have been replaced by glasses or lenses that display extra information, or by smart earbuds, or maybe a microphone implanted in our teeth, or an antenna in our clothes? And will we all be making our own clothes – and even our smartphones (and our food?) – using a 3D printer? Maybe ...
But let's be honest. It's nice that technology will make our lives easier. However, there are also major challenges ahead: climate problems, an aging population, diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, etc. So, will technology be able to make a difference in those areas as well? You bet!
Solar power is beginning to become really ‘normal’ now, plus electric cars are on the increase and sensors enable us to measure and adjust water and air quality continuously. By 2035, hopefully, we will be producing far more green energy than we are today. For example, we will fit every building, cycle path, backpack and much more with solar cells to produce power. Batteries will have become so much better by then, too, meaning you’ll be able to go on a long-distance road trip in your electric car with no problem at all.
More people will be living in the city, so we can use more of our open spaces for planting trees. And urban living will be a real pleasure, thanks to new technology (not to mention all those green walls!) Growing older won’t be so bad, either. Because with sensors, artificial intelligence, minilabs-on-chip and support from our personal doctor-coach, we’ll be able to detect diseases more quickly and receive truly personalized treatments. Plus, we’ll know the right choices to make so that we can live a healthy life for longer.
And – who knows? – perhaps we’ll have more free time. Because artificial intelligence and robots will be able to help us in our jobs. That way we’ll also be able to enjoy more of our (grand)children, who’ll really love going to school because classrooms will be incredibly interesting environments in 2035. Why? Find out more in this book of the future.