Trees that store your bank details in their leaves and microchips that let people stream films directly into their eyes are just two of the technological innovations children expect to see by the time they are adults.
To mark the launch of this year’s STEM Student Challenge, which aims to encourage youngsters to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or maths, Microsoft asked a group of schoolchildren what tech will look like in 20 years’ time.
The youngsters, who are in years 8, 9 and 10, came up with ideas based on artificial intelligence, virtual reality, data security and healthcare. One group suggested storing personal information in DNA that could then be placed into trees in your garden. When the homeowner needs the information, he or she can take a leaf from the tree containing the data and carry it around with them in a locket.
Other ideas included a bracelet worn by epilepsy sufferers that will automatically call out a drone to help them when they have seizure; and drones that can carry inhalers and conduct CT scans.
Alexa, 13, said: “I think everyone will have a microchip, like dogs do now, but it will let you download movies that stream directly into your eyeballs.”
The STEM Student Challenge is open to teams of up to six students in years 8 to 10, who must submit a video that explains their idea for technology that could exist in 2037. Finalists will be invited to present their proposals to researchers and engineers at Microsoft’s research centre in Cambridge.
The winning team will be handed £5,000 for their school to spend on computing equipment for students, plus individual prizes for the entrants.
“Technology is all around us and it’s only going to become more central to our daily lives,” Christopher Bishop, Lab Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge, said. “It’s important that schools and organisations continue to encourage young people to embrace STEM subjects and help them realise their potential in an increasingly technology-driven world.
“We hope that the STEM Student Challenge will help students to think more about how they can be part of driving the exciting world of tomorrow’s technology and how studying STEM subjects is a vital part of that.”
Registration for Challenge entries is still open. Full details can be found on the Microsoft website.