Parasite drag increases at an exponential rate, and any ram air canopy is a DOG. Induced drag decreases exponentially with speed. The balance of the two is the goal for any soaring aircraft design.
Making ever more efficient designs based on the current technology, that's true. Eventually you'll reach a performance plateau.
However I woldn't be surprised if the current path of making flatter and flatter designs leads to a hybrid ram-air / hangglider type of wing, rather than the paraglider crossover - something that once inflated is essentially rigid, closed and thin. I've been drawing designs like that for the past 3 years and I'm not a specialist. Someone else must be doing more.
Would it fit in a cool, tiny container? Probably not. Would it glide like a bastard? Who knows? I'd fly it!
for the OP, I tend to think of both paragliding and canopy piloting as having the same basic principles, in the same way that Formula 1 and Rallying have the same background, but each becomes its own specialty with gear, techniques and training specific to it. It's massive hubris to think becase you can do one, you can do the other.
(This post was edited by yoink on Jun 25, 2011, 12:27 AM)