August 27, 2014 3:43 pm

Will technology take the stress out of back-to-school prep by 2024?

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

TORONTO – It’s not just kids that dread going back to school – parents do too.

From managing back-to-school purchases, to helping cranky kids adjust to new routines, there is a lot of work involved in getting kids ready for class.

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More than half of Canadian parents are stressed out about back-to-school planning, according to a study released Tuesday by Visa. And while 58 per cent said money was their biggest concern, many parents cited things like packing school lunches and arranging transportation for their kids as stressors.

READ MORE: How to save money and get the best deals on back-to-school tech

But what if parents had access to sophisticated nutritional software that could help put together the healthiest lunch possible? Or what if they could program their driverless car to get their kids safely to school without having to sit in traffic?

In ten years, one futurist says that might be the reality.

As part of Visa’s study, futurist Ross Dawson predicted some of the advancements that may help parents ten years from now be better prepared for back-to-school.

Driverless cars

While this may sound like something from a scene of The Jetsons, the idea of self-driving cars shuttling our kids off to school may not be that far away.

Dawson said that it’s quite feasible for driverless cars to safely shuttle kids to and from school on pre-programmed routes.

“Not that long ago I and many others thought [driverless cars] would take a lot longer to develop,” Dawson told Global News.

“This could happen far faster than we anticipated – ten years is feasible.”

But this all depends on whether the driverless car models that companies like Google are testing are approved – then each province would need to implement legislation making the vehicles legal.

READ MORE: How Google got states to legalize driverless cars

Self-driving cars are currently legal in California, Nevada, Florida and Michigan. Canada has not passed any legislation surrounding the futuristic vehicles.

“The reality is that if these are approved it will become easier for us to have pre-programmed routes,” Dawson said. “If you are tracking a route from your home to school, for example, it becomes easier and safer for that vehicle to follow that path.”

Easier online shopping

Imagine if your smartphone could tell you your waist measurements, average shirt size and what styles you would look good in, all with a picture?

That might very well be the way we online shop in the future, according to Dawson, who suggested smartphones may eventually have scanners that would be able to detect this information.

Predictive financial planning programs

With finances being at the top of many parents’ worries, Dawson predicts that financial planning software will become much more predictive in order to evaluate the impact their back-to-school budget will have long term.

Dawson said this may include software that predicts the impact of school-related costs against the family’s monthly budget, or allows them to see trends in their long-term savings for things like post-secondary savings.

Of course, similar software already exists, but Dawson said the goal is to have more sophisticated features.

Smarter nutrition planning

Packing school lunches can be a battle – especially for parents with picky eaters – but in ten years, there could be nutrition planning apps and programs that will help parents pack healthy lunches that kids love.

“One of the key issues here is the personalization of nutritional profiles; we need to recognize that each child is different,” said Dawson.

READ MORE: Cut screen time before sleep to prepare for school say pediatricians

Dawson suggested that the software could come in the form of an app that allows parents to keep nutrition profiles tracking each child’s health conditions, likes and dislikes, and activity levels so the software can evaluate the best meal choices.

Of course, this could all be happening on giant, gesture controlled screens just like The Matrix. This is the future, after all.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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