This week in When Science Fiction Becomes Reality I want to highlight a very cool piece of technology which is just starting to come into its own… echolocation.

This incredible science uses echoes and sounds to measure the dimensions of a room (kind of like sonar). More of the science is described here, but I wanted to talk more about the future of this technology.

So at the moment we need several microphones which will will map out the dimensions of a room (or a cathedral!). In just a few years I’m sure this will advance to mapping out entire buildings, perhaps complete with furniture and lifeforms. And maybe this technology could come from something as simple as a phone? Smart phones can already do so much, with this new algorithm and a bit of tweaking they could become personalised sonar devices.

What does this mean for the future (and for our beloved science fiction genre)? Well, soldiers could instantaneously get a floor plan for a building complete with enemy locations- that kind of technology could definitely come in handy! Of course at the moment this technology is aimed at optimising amphitheaters etc. but there is so much more potential! Aside from soldiers, this technology could help sight impaired people, if you combine it with a pin-point accurate GPS- it could walk a person through their house using audio, stopping any collisions! Architects, builders, interior designers; all could benefit from this kind of technology, from the ability to instantly measure a room.

Explorers would also get a kick out of these advancements. Have you ever been stuck in a dark cave and you don’t know how far it goes or which way is out? No problem! Just send out your sonar and up comes a map of the cave system.

How can you see this technology being used? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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