VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – How would you like to have a snooze in your car as you drive to work, walk into a store and have it know all your likes and dislikes or control your computer with your mind?

Canadian Business Magazine is peering into the not-so-distant future with a look at developments currently underway and products that could have practical uses within years.

“These are not things out of sci-fi novels and movies,” explains Jeff Beer, staff writer at Canadian Business. “For instance mind-control; there are projects underway using what’s called ‘brain-computer interface.’ Researchers at the US Department of Defense have grants out to help soldiers communicate silently with comrades and machines in battle.”

“On the consumer side, there’s also work being done; research with special headgear on primates that tracks brainwaves. They find that monkeys can use their thoughts to manipulate robotic arms to do simple tasks,” says Beer.

Flying or self-driving cars?

“A flying car does exist, though it’s expensive at about $280,000. It’s made by a company called Terrafugia and it’s called the Transition. It’s like an old-school car with fold-up wings but it actually has exceptions from the US Department of Highways and the FAA so that it can be driven to the airport and then flown,” he explains.

High-end vehicles already utilize self-parking technology, but Beer says self-driving cars are on the road as well. “Google has a working model. It has retrofitted a Prius with the technology. It has driven thousands of miles and Google actually had a law changed in Nevada so it could test it on the highways there.”

“GM has unveiled a concept car called the EN-V that looks like a little Smart Car mixed with a roller-coaster pod. There’s no steering wheel and it actually communicates with traffic infrastructure,” he adds.

There is also technology being developed that will allow your vehicle to sync up with local infrastructure to search for nearby parking spots. Your car could drive off to park itself and then be called back with a command from your smartphone.

Hate waiting in line?

By 2014, queues could be gone with a new technology that would allow consumers to walk into a store, scan a product’s barcode and pay for it using a smartphone. And stores could soon know you better than your best friend does.

“It’s melding the world of online shopping with the brick and mortar retail experience. Retailers are looking at things that have worked on the web and using that technology to make the shopping experience that much more engaging,” says Beer.

“Things like personalized promotions,” he explains. “Much like Google serves up personalized ads while surfing the ‘net, this technology would know you from your smartphone or past shopping and target you with personalized promotions.”

Other futuristic initiatives

Canadian Business also details things like vision-augmenting glasses (beware the headaches), personal medical implants (a souped up, high-tech you) and eco-technologies (new uses for old trash).

“You look at all these things — whether it’s healthcare, retail, transportation or even cleaning up space garbage — and it’s all about using technology to make our lives and world more efficient. A lot of these things are interconnected, specifically in transportation. You can’t have a driverless car without it speaking to traffic infrastructure and management all intertwined and connected to the Internet,” notes Beer.

Of course, there could be a couple of hitches as all this new technology becomes reality.

“What happens when the power goes out?” laughs Beer.

For more, check the latest issue of Canadian Business, on newsstands now.