I struggle to think of things I want when relatives ask me for gift ideas at this time of year. However, if we ignore what's possible for a second, there are some things I'd like.
A non-complex microwave
I have a pretty easy to use microwave already, but every time I have to use a different one (at work, in someone else's house) it seems I need the instruction manual just to turn it on. And a degree in engineering.
Why would anyone need so many buttons just to heat up a bowl of soup? And who uses a microwave to do the much more complex things they can allegedly do, like roast a whole chicken? I am baffled.
A responsive disc tray
I'd really like it if the various CD and DVD drives that I own would open quicker. Not five seconds after I press the eject button, immediately after I press the eject button. Also let's have one button for open and one for close, so if I jab it twice in frustration it doesn't open and then immediately close again.
I know everything's moving to digital and these kinds of drives aren't going to be around for much longer, but I'm still using them and they're too slow.
A cycling force field
As a cyclist I regularly encounter careless pedestrian syndrome - the tendency for people to step out in front of you without looking. Ideally the force field would extend ahead of me and gently push people out of the way as I approach, whilst simultaneously pointing out that the traffic light system also applies to them.
A portable electromagnetic pulse device
I'd really like a short range EMP, preferably small enough to fit in a pocket. I'd use it in bathrooms to clear out people who hog the cubicles because they can't survive the length of time it takes to go to the toilet without checking their phone. And in cinemas, for a similar purpose.
Also it would be good if I could use it against the neighbour's stereo system, although I appreciate that would require more nuanced targeting.
Miscellaneous futuristic accoutrements
I'm not after a flying car (such an idea can only end badly) but there a lot of little things the future was supposed to bring at some point that haven't quite materialised yet.
Where are the self cleaning windows? Dirt repellent clothing? Food containers that food can't stick to? Full size computers that fold up into a postage stamp? The energy self sufficient house? Portable video projection holograms? The 3D printer in every home that produces most things you could want? Half-life 3?
Okay, some of these are real, but they're not exactly commonplace yet. C'mon future, get on with it.