(CNN) -- Speculation about the future is often bleak, but for its 175th anniversary, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington presents a grand vision of how the world could radically change through a successful showcase of technology, design and art.
Located in the Art + Industries Building (AIB), the "Futures" show will fill 30,000 square feet of space with a mix of actual projects currently in the works, design proposals from past and present, and prescient art concepts. Rachel Goslin, director of the Smithsonian AIB, calls the program "a contemporary World's Fair of Ideas."
"I think it's safe to say it's the only exhibit in history where you can play a video game with your eyes, talk to an emotional robot, visit a future deli and do your laundry," Goslin said.
The Smithsonian is the world's largest network of museums, education and research centers, and the show's curator, Ashley Molese, points out that the AIB has put many historic objects on public display for the first time, including the light bulb, the telephone and the Apollo spacecraft rockets.
Now, they hope to continue their legacy of innovation, she explains. "We have a lot of help these days in imagining what could go wrong in the future," she said. "But we also need help figuring out what might go right." Here are eight featured concepts and objects from the show.
An electric taxi takes flight
"Back to the Future 2" predicted we'd have flying cars by 2015. "Blade Runner" predicted we'd have them by 2019. But it's 2021 and we've yet to see cars in our skies. (Betting on "The Jetsons" is still up to the 2060s; "The Fifth Element" the 2250s.)
In "Futures," a new concept will make its debut: the Bell Nexus Air Taxi, designed by aerospace manufacturer Bell Textron, is a self-driving hybrid car designed to take off and land vertically. While riders still need to be patient before they can signal a ride from above, this vision of the eternal future may finally come soon: Uber and Hyundai have teamed up and set their sights on 2023 for the first prototype.
A city floats on water
Oceanix City. Courtesy: CEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group/Smithsonian
With the explosion of urban populations, the expansion may eventually move from land to sea. That's the idea behind Bjarke Ingels' ambitious floating city concept, which the Danish architect presented with artist Olaffur Eliasson and company Oceanix at the UN two years ago. Bjake Ingels Group (BIG) has become famous for its bold, sustainable and modern designs in Denmark and beyond, and is currently building Google's new campus in London.
But the idea of "Oceanix City" is on a grand scale. The hexagonal modular plan of the proposed ocean metropolis claims to be fully customizable based on a city's needs, while the infrastructure is designed to be sustainable and natural disaster proof.
A new way to form a family
(Im)Possible Baby Courtesy: Ai Hasegawa/Smithsonian
Can science help same-sex couples have a baby that shares the DNA of both parents? With the progress of stem cell research and technology, such as the CRISPR gene editing technique, it is only a matter of time and has already been achieved with mice in a laboratory. Artist and designer Ai Hasegawa imagined that future through the speculative design project "(Im)possible Baby," created when Hasegawa was at MIT.
Hasegawa worked with a couple who want to be biological mothers, using their DNA data from the 23andMe at-home genetic testing kit to create simulated images of their potential children together. The project included a family photo album as well as a 30-minute documentary film that aired in Japan.
An ultra-fast mode of transport
Pegasus. Courtesy: Virgin Hyperloop/Smithsonian
A working hyperloop in the US has been teased for about a decade, and with Virgin completing its first human test last November, the futuristic travel option finally seems within reach.
A hyperloop, a vacuum tube for ground travel that reaches flight speeds, has long been imagined in science fiction, but was pushed by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar. , in 2012, with the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson. coming to the table in 2017. The Virgin Hyperloop Pegasus, which will be on display at "Futures," is a high-speed pod designed to travel up to 670 miles per hour, intended to connect major cities by minutes rather than hours.
An ecological final resting place
When you die, become a tree: that's what the Italian design team behind the "Capsula Mundi" concept proposes. Raoul Pretzel and Anna Citelli's concept of an egg-shaped biodegradable urn topped with a new tree has been making the rounds on the internet since they first introduced it in 2017. While it's still hitting the market four years later, the urn concept organic has been exhibited around the world and will make a stop at "Futures".
A new source of drinking water
In Frank Herbert's "Dune," desert-dwelling Fremen create drinking water by recycling all of their bodily fluids through their distilling suits; they would probably envy the solar-powered Waha Water Harvester, which can convert water vapor from the air. even in the most arid conditions. (In 2019, startup Waha tested its technology in California's Mojave Desert.)
The Water Harvester can produce enough water for two to three adults, a potentially life-saving device for the quarter facing extreme water stress, and Waha plans to scale up to design a harvester with enough power to hydrate an entire village, according to the Berkeley News.
An AI farm vehicle
Mineral Rover Courtesy: X, the Moonshot Factory (a Division of Google LLC)/Smithsonian
As the world population continues to increase, food security has become a more urgent issue, particularly as climate change threatens our agricultural stability.
It's a critical area that Google's parent company Alphabet is exploring through X, its "moonshot factory" dedicated to solving problems on a global scale through technology.
Publicly debuting in "Futures," X's Mineral Rover prototype is a four-wheeled autonomous vehicle the size of a small car that uses artificial intelligence to help farmers maximize crop yields and reduce ecological impact. that is, through the amount of water and chemical products necessary.
The Mineral Rover can identify weeds and potential plant problems, as well as assess fruit maturity, according to the Smithsonian.
A capital city returns to nature
ReWildAR Summer Visualization Credit: Courtesy of Tamiko Thiel/Smithsonian
What if Washington turned back into a thriving wild ecosystem? That question is the basis of an AR project by artist Tamiko Thiel, who has transformed one of the exhibition halls into an idyllic habitat of wildflowers.
Thiel, who helped design the first commercial artificial intelligence supercomputer 35 years ago, worked with Smithsonian horticultural experts to envision a radically greener future that attendees can experience through an augmented reality overlay.
"Futures" will open on November 20, 2021 and will remain on view until July 6, 2022