Suitcase of Futures

Elliott P. Montgomery


Elliott Montgomery, a Senior Strategic Foresight Specialist at Autodesk, writes from the perspective of a time traveler who ran a roundtable session at Autodesk University called “A Time Traveler’s Suitcase: Building Future Readiness to Navigate the Unknown.


Excuse me, hi!

I wonder if you’ve got a moment?

See, there was a little mix-up at the station, and instead of getting a ticket for the six-day trip, I accidentally got one reversing six years. Now I’m here in 2023, and while it’s nice and a little cooler, I’ve got some time before my return trip.

I’m a material sociologist back in my home-year of 2029. I collect objects that have cultural significance; things that reveal new behaviors and technological turning points. Just by chance, I had a bunch of objects from my collection with me in my suitcase when I hopped onboard that chrono-transporter at the station. Apparently, Autodesk’s conference organizers caught wind of what I’d brought from 2029 and they jumped at the opportunity to have me host a roundtable discussion here in 2023. At the Autodesk University conference, I revealed all the objects I had in my suitcase and talked about how each one can foster an important discussion about the forces impacting fields like design, manufacturing, construction, and media creation.

There are some wild objects inside my suitcase, maybe even more so for someone from your year. I brought a fascinating tool from an architecture office that uses emotion sensors to help design environments, a DIY device I borrowed from a freelance 3D data collector, and even a home-made memento of a charismatic factory robot. Every one of the objects in my suitcase tells a story about how work is changing across social, technological, economic, environmental, and political realms.

You can see snapshots of each of the objects below:

While I was at Autodesk University, I had the chance to talk to a lot of folks about their visions for the future. I asked attendees which forces they believed would impact their industry, and what changes they could picture as a result of those forces. Finally, I invited them to imagine a fictional object, like the ones in my suitcase, that could serve as evidence of the changes they envisioned. The conference attendees shared some fascinating ideas, and several of them were pretty spot-on, based on my experiences back in 2029.

For now, I need to get something to eat. Can you point me to the nearest 3D-printed meal stand?

The Strategic Foresight group at Autodesk is welcoming designers to share their own visions of future objects. Imagine your own future object by filling in the sheet below and emailing a picture of it to: Selected submissions will be fabricated and sent to the creators.

A huge thank you to the Strategic Foresight team and other members of Autodesk who helped shape these visions of the future, and to Kelly Kornet Weber and Francis Gonzales for working with me to bring them to life, from concept development to design and fabrication.

Get in touch

Have we piqued your interest? Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about Autodesk Research, our projects, people, and potential collaboration opportunities

Contact us