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20 everyday things that’ll disappear in the next 20 years

·Contributing editor
·7-min read
New year 2021 and old year 2020 on sandy beach with waves
Here's everything that's set to disappear. Image: Getty

Typewriters, phone books and cassette tapes were all commonplace 20 years ago but have since become obsolete.

And the writing is on the wall for many more things in the years to come.

Here are 20 things that will probably disappear within the next 20 years.

Keys

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

House and car keys are still used by many Aussies, but there are many advantages to switching to smart access instead.

Technological development means that within the next few years you will likely be able to open doors with numerical codes, or even using your face or fingerprint.

It would mean you can never lose your keys again.

Passwords

Encryption your data. Digital Lock. Hacker attack and data breach. Big data with encrypted computer code. Safe your data. Cyber internet security and privacy concept. Database storage 3d illustration
Image: Getty

Unlocking devices with your fingerprint, eyes or face is already in use and soon all security will shift to that kind of biometric recognition.

Not only will you not need to worry about remembering all your passwords, you’ll likely not even need one at all.

Drivers

Getty Images Perth 2017
Image: Getty

There is a lot of debate about exactly when driverless vehicles are coming to the market, but it could be very soon.

For example, Ford, Volvo and Tesla expect to launch self-driving cars as early as next year, and BMW and Daimler want to release their driverless vehicles by 2024.

Although we’re a long way from driverless cars fully replacing normal cars on roads, when it happens both everyday drivers and professionals - taxi and truck drivers for example - could fast become obsolete.

Traffic

Heavy traffic on one of the freeways crossing Silicon Valley, San Francisco bay area, California
Image: Getty

When driverless cars become commonplace on the roads, drivers themselves won’t be the only thing to disappear, traffic will too.

Vehicles moving at a steady and constant speed would likely lead to less traffic and even fewer accidents.

Parking meters

Adelaide: Parking meter  installed near St. Peter's Cathedral in Adelaide CBD with cars parked along the street
Image: Getty

The humble parking meter is already on the way out. But it will soon disappear, replaced by licence plate recognition technology and an automatic charge to your credit card.

Cards

stack of multicolored credit cards, close up view with selective focus
Image: Getty

You’ll still be able to pay by credit but soon you won’t need the physical card to do it.

We’re already seeing a pickup in the number of people paying with their smartphone, watch or fitbit and it's only going to continue.

Advancements in facial recognition technology in the next 20 years could even mean you won’t need a device at all.

Cash

4 Australian $100 notes.Other money pictures:
Image: Getty

Cash was already on its way out with the number of transactions steadily declining over the past 10 years as consumers opt for cashless options such as credit cards or even their smartphone or smartwatch.

A recent McKinsey report shows after an initial spike in cash withdrawals when the first lockdowns started earlier this year, concerns around the risk of contracting COVID-19 from high-traffic ATMs and refusal of some merchants to accept cash has pushed customers towards e-payment options.

The lockdowns, combined with this fear that cash helps spread the virus, and a drop in overall spending, caused a ‘severe’ drop in cash usage.

While some sectors have rebounded, the shift has seen electronic payments rise while cash usage remains lower.

The report explains that while cash usage was already declining, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated ‘winds of change in global payments’.

Remote controls

Hand holding television and audio multimedia remote control for watching tv
Image: Getty

Your smartphone or smartwatch is already going to reinvent the way we pay for goods. But it’ll also double up as your remote control instead.

Within the next decade or so, you’ll be able to use it to control every device in your house - TV, air conditioning, music and even your oven.

Plastic bags

Little girl holding a plastic bag with a globe inside
Image: Getty

One-use plastic shopping bags have already been all-but eradicated in Australia. But thanks to new health concerns arising from the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we could soon see plastic bags disappear entirely and make way for reusable and washable fabric bags.

Charger cables

Digital tablets and mobile phones plugged in to an extension lead charge
Image: Getty

Within the next 20 years, the tangled mess of wires connecting all your many devices to your wall plugs and the internet could be a distant memory.

Wireless charging is already on the market for some high-end devices but the technology could become standard for most technology.

Paper receipts

Scanning a QR code from a receipt. Smartphone app for online expense tracking. Budget and Personal Finance App. Frugal living, saving money
Image: Getty

Some stores already offer emailed receipts instead of paper ones and soon that’ll be standard industry-wide.

No more stuffing your wallet full of endless streams of paper.

Paper bills

Close up of black man hands putting a letter inside an envelope on a desk at home
Image: Getty

We’ve already seen a big shift in businesses sending invoices and bills electronically and that’ll only continue over the next couple of decades. It won’t be long until the old-age ‘paper trail’ is a thing of the past entirely as businesses move their documents entirely online.

Wallet or purse

Close-up, senior female hands taking Australian banknotes (cash, currency) from purse containing many credit cards.  Horizontal, studio, copy space.
Image: Getty

If cash, cards and paper receipts are on the way out, it makes sense for our wallets to also face becoming extinct. After all, what would we need to put in them?

Hard drives

three external hdd drives one the shelf, data backup storage
Image: Getty

There was a time when storage space was a critical factor in choosing a computer or phone.

But, with fast Internet access and cheap Cloud-based storage, size doesn’t matter anymore.

For a small subscription fee you can even stream Spotify and Netflix, automatically back up the data, and have instant access across multiple devices.

Calculators

Your smartphone does everything these days. So what use do any of us have for a physical calculator anymore?

In fact, these days, you don’t even need to Google search it yourself - ask Alexa or Siri instead and they’ll do the work for you.

Manual transmission cars

Close up gear stick interior inside bright car.
Image: Getty

According to figures provided to CarAdvice the past five years of sales data shows the Toyota Corolla – Australia's best-selling small car – has seen a marked decline in the demand for manual transmissions by consumers.

With a manual now only available in the entry-level Ascent within the current Corolla range (introduced in 2018), just 1.5 per cent of Corolla hatch buyers optioned a manual transmission in the first half of 2020, compared with 7.4 per cent for 2015.

Fast forward a few more years and they might disappear forever.

Ink signatures

Closeup Businessman signing a contract investment professional document agreement on the table with pen.
Image: Getty

The coronavirus and social distancing measures have accelerated the already declining ink signature.

The changeover to digital signatures was put into motion some time ago, but there are still several documents which require a handwritten signature before they can be logged or recorded.

But the new business normal of remote working and virtual, rather than physical meetings could soon see a stop even to that.

Shopping centres

Abstract toned blurred shopping mall of department store interior with Christmas decorations for background
Image: Getty

The coronavirus pandemic and government shutdowns also caused a significant shift in how the retail industry adapted business to survive in the crisis.

Retailers embraced electronic payments and online shopping, some for the first time, which begs the question of how many will return to their physical stores (and rents) now rules have relaxed.

Fast forward another couple of decades and we might see the traditional shopping centre disappear as retailers either increase their online presence or move online entirely.

Manual workers

Engineer using tablet check and control automation robot arms machine in intelligent factory industrial on monitoring system software. Welding robotics and digital manufacturing operation.
Image: Getty

Many businesses, especially factories which were already looking into artificial intelligence, are ramping up automation in response to new social distancing measures, reduced spending and/or higher volume.

If a robot can do the job quicker, cheaper, safer and more accurately then we’ll probably see them disappear for regular Aussies.

Open plan offices

Lifestyle  business concepts.  Open space office in the foreground.
Image: Getty

There are two reasons that the usual everyday office has become redundant thanks to the shortcomings of 2020: virus contamination risk and the surge in remote working.

Many businesses have simply realised they no longer need the space and can instead streamline their costs and overheads by having the bulk of employees work remotely instead.

Those which do decide to eventually return to the old working environment will have to have plans in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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