The future starts now: 11 landmark headlines that show a brave new world

We've all seen those sci-fi movies where someone is retelling the story of how it all began. Whether it is the virus that wipes out most of the human race in Twelve Monkeys, the lead up to Judgment Day in Terminator 2, or the scenes in iRobot and Minority Report, news events are starting to appear that conspiracy theorists of the future will no doubt pin together as the source of when it all began.

Some will, of course, claim that the future is always upon us, but these headlines, showing the world is changing around us, are all since August 2013, and you know that things are going to start to move even faster from here on out. 

1. Microsoft Kinect is now guarding the Korean DMZ as first line of defence

August 2013 - Not content with using Samsung-powered defensive robots called the SGR-1 that are equipped with heat and motion detectors to identify and shoot a potential target more than 2 miles away, South Korea starts secretly using a Microsoft Kinect-powered system to patrol the Demilitarised Zone.

The new system can supposedly discern the difference between animals and humans. If the system detects a human, it will alert the nearby outpost. Further details are sparse - probably, because this involves national security. 

2. Qualcomm's Zeroth processors can mimic human-like perception and brain-like computing

October 2013 - Qualcomm's research and development team announced that it has spent the last last few years working on a new computer architecture that mimics the human brain and nervous system.

Called Qualcomm Zeroth processing, Zeroth-enabled devices will be able to have embedded cognition and brain-inspired computing. Qualcomm said it wants Zeroth to not only "mimic human-like perception" but also have the ability to "learn how biological brains do".

3. Google buys Boston Dynamics

December 2013 - Google, which has been dabbling in robotics for some time, announces that it has made Andy Rubin, former head of Android, head of a new robotics division at the company.

Google quickly follows that announcement with the news that it has bought Boston Dynamics, the company that makes military robots like Big Dog and a robot that can run faster than Usain Bolt.

4. Google buys DeepMind

January 2014 - Google buys artificial intelligence company DeepMind to help improve either Google search results, or those robots it's just bought.

Created by neuroscientist and former child chess prodigy Demis Hassabis, Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallin, and researcher Shane Legg, the company is trying to build a system that thinks.

5. Drone quadcopters in Dubai to be used as firefighters

January 2014 - Dubai starts using quadcopters to fight fires. The Dubai Civil Defence buys 15 quadcopters which it plans to use for patrolling high-risk areas for fires.

Once a fire is located the drones will be deployed to inspect the scene so firefighters can decide the best course of action to take.

6. Apple iOS 8, iWatch said to focus on health and fitness tracking with help of new Healthbook app

January 2014 - Apple rumours start to surface that the company is working on an iWatch product that will monitor your health, allowing you to see what's going on with your life, but also to help target information to you better.

Futurists start to get wildly excited that users will be able to track vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate through the app that's said to carry a similar look to Passbook.

7. Tesla Model S owners can now drive coast-to-coast in the US

January 2014 - Tesla makes it possible to travel from one side of the US to the other via its "Supercharger" network. Tesla owners can now drive from New York to California.

Telsa says it plans to have 98 per cent of the US population and parts of Canada covered by 2015. In Europe, Tesla's Supercharger network sits at only 14 stations, but the company has announced plans for a massive expansion later in 2014.

8. Stratasys 3D printer first to create multicoloured, flexible materials

January 2014 - The world's first 3D printer capable of multi-material, full-colour 3D printing is unveiled by MakerBot owner Stratasys. While this is industrial-level printing, it is expected that the technology will filter down to consumers very quickly. This is a huge step towards widening the range of products available to print from a 3D printer at home. 

9. Oculus Rift is not just for gaming, it can also help you change sex

January 2014 - The gaming headset that still isn't available to the general public is being used in a number of different ways beyond just for playing games. Spanish group BeAnotherLab uses a Creative Commons technology called The Machine in order to discover what it would be like to swap genders entirely.

10. Military robot truck convoy autonomously drives without weak fleshy humans

February 2014 - Military defence contractor Lockheed Martin successfully sends a robot truck convey through an urban area, showing that we don't need human drivers.

The Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) developed by Lockheed uses GPS and LIDAR to navigate. The GPS shows the truck where to go while the LIDAR "sees" obstacles using laser radar, so collisions can be avoided. Other trucks can be added to the lead so they follow it in convoy.

11. Drones are mapping the entire planet for an RPG game called ReRoll

February 2014 - Pixyul, a new game studio created by ex-Assassin's Creed and Far Cry developers, announces that it is using drones to map the planet for a new game. The company says that the aim is to create a real-world RPG that lets gamers go anywhere from within the game they're calling ReRoll. The gameplay promises to be "hyper real" too: "To subsist, you need to eat, rest, exercise, learn, fight but most of all find all the different ways to survive." 

Lead image, Night Of The City, by ZhouPeng