Tech, Now + Beyond

7 tech patents that have got to be from the future

These companies are trying to own the next big thing before it becomes the next big thing.

While eye-catching patents often never come to fruition — a patent is used to protect inventions against potential intellectual property theft — the latest patents offer us enticing glimpses on what the tech world will produce next.

Sometimes these inventions seem absolutely out of this world, or at least out of this century. But let’s cross our fingers and hope these seven are produced and marketed within our lifetimes!

1.  Lights that disinfect your phone in seconds

It’s no secret: your phone is a filthy bacteria factory. Soon you can leave your Purell behind and let UV light take care of it. Microsoft’s 2015 UV light system patent aims to disinfect your phone—and your fingertips—instantly. The technology works by storing UV light in a transparent film material that reflects UV light off the surface. The exiting lights reaches your fingertips and immediate surroundings, disinfecting everything with a flip of a switch!

2. Cars that literally stick to you

When walking through a busy city, Google’s new patent could save your life. In the U.S. a pedestrian dies from a car-related injury every two hours. Instead of being propelled by a car, you’ll be stuck to Google’s cars. An adhesive substance will coat the hood, front bumper, and front side panels of its cars, according to the patent. As the prospect of self-driving cars come closer, Google hopes to lower pedestrian injuries from the outside. One day, you might find yourself glued to a bumper — and grateful for it.

3. Instantaneous, automated  fact-checking

There are several things that need to be fact checked, essays, articles, documents, but what about your resume? LinkedIn filed for patent for a new fact checking system that will be able to test the accuracy of articles, as the world’s largest online professional network has recently become a source of news along with employer information. The patent outlines fact checking through camera devices, social media, email, and web pages. Although the patent didn’t specifically mention fact checking professional profiles, it could be in the near future.

4. Cars that can turn into unicycles

Ever feel like the distance from your parking lot to your office is just a little too much to walk? Well, Ford has an answer for you. When you can’t find parking right outside your destination, park in a lot that’s just shy of walking distance from your final location, then take your car’s wheel off and turn it into a motorized unicycle. Ride the rest of the way in style.

Side note: if you’re looking for a more pleasurable form of transportation, try this out, ladies.

5. You, as an emoji

When you feel like emoticons just aren’t quite getting the vibe you want, it might not be that long of a wait until your actual face will be the little smiley face your sending to your next crush. Facebook recently filed a patent for your face to be the next emoji. So when words fail, tiny versions of our faces may be the new form of communication.

6. Holographic frames

Holograms have been a part of sci-fi and futuristic media for ages, but they may be more of a reality than you think. Google owns a patent on holographic displays projected through headsets like Google Glass. Yep.

7.  Flexible phones

Remember all that hype about the iPhone 6 bending? Well, maybe they were ahead of the game (again), because according a recent increase in handheld tech patents, flexible devices are the future. While Apple filed a patent for a wrap-around, flexible screen with transparency capabilities, Samsung has filed a patent for a foldable smartphone.

Look forward to the new, malleable machines of the future.