The World-Economic Meta Council is a panel of 18 experts that identify the most important tech innovations each year. They are advised by a diverse group of the community to compile a list of advancements that will have the largest impact to better our future. The purpose of their list is to raise awareness and public understanding hopefully to close the gap in capital investment needed to push the technology further. A way to look at the council’s list is as a form of advertising for a particular innovation that isn’t company or product specific. Like all advertising though, you are advised to do your research before investing in a company or purchasing one of their products. The innovations below represent the top 5 of the council’s list that promise to change the world in the near future. They go far beyond the benefits of the latest phone or smart TV and have real world environmental, medical, and safety applications.
5. Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)
To better understand additive manufacturing and its benefits, you first should look at traditional/subtractive manufacturing. In subtractive manufacturing, you take a raw material (wood/metal/stone) and cut, shave, or melt it down to reach your desired shape and function. This, of course, wastes valuable natural resources in the process. With additive manufacturing, the process starts with a powder or liquid and builds it into the desired shape by using a 3D template. Even more impressive, is that in the medical field, 3D printing is being used to replicate living tissues that can be used in drug trials and possibly tissue/organ repair.
4. Precise Genetic-Engineering Techniques
This innovation pertains specifically to the genetic engineering of plants to yield larger crops. Traditional genetic engineering of plants has been under a cloud of controversy. Currently, this process requires the addition of foreign genetic material that doesn’t increase risk compared to other methods, but has aroused fear in the public. Advancements in genetic engineering are now able to edit the genetic code of a plant without the addition of a foreign material to yield a desired result such as the plant being more nutritious or more adaptable to harsher climates. This method is more precise than previous ones and could help alleviate concerns and provide more nutritious food in developing countries.
3. Recyclable Thermoset Plastics
Take a good look around your bedroom, kitchen, children’s room, or bathroom, and you are likely to see plastics everywhere. In the past these plastics have only been able to be shaped once and after their use was exhausted they’d be thrown out. Recyclable thermoset plastics, also known as thermoplastics, can be reshaped many times. With the enormous amount of waste we collectively leave each day, and the number of current uses for plastic, having a renewable plastic can drastically decrease our landfill deposit.
2. Next Generation Robotics
We can only hope sci-fi writers are wrong when future societies that are almost entirely automated by robotics and artificial intelligence have that A.I. rise up to overthrow the human population. We are reaching a point in robotics where humans are being removed from dangerous tasks and being replaced by robots. Thanks to advances in chips and sensors, robots can better understand the environment and work outside of large manufacturing plants. They are now being found on oil rigs, farms, in automobiles, and in hospitals to perform specialized functions.
1. Fuel Cell Vehicles
It is hardly a secret that our collective carbon footprint has increased to a point where a reduction must be made. Hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles have been around for about a decade, but higher prices at dealerships have made these vehicles remain the minority on the road. With fuel cells, the automakers are reaching a point where advancements are making them a viable plan for a large number of vehicles in the near future. Fuel cell vehicles will run on either hydrogen or natural gas that can generate electricity directly. The fuel cell will generate the energy and batteries will store it until needed to operate the vehicle. While current electric cars have a minimal range, fuel cell vehicles will be able to travel similar distances as traditional automobiles. Charging a fuel cell only takes a matter of minutes and those powered by hydrogen will only produce water vapor as waste. Having a greater number of zero-emission vehicles on the road will play a huge part in getting our collective air pollution to more sustainable levels going forward.
Brian Levesque is a tech blogger who specializes in emerging technologies and trends, and writes about them so his audience does not get caught off guard or suck behind the times. For those who find themselves needing to communicate with those who still haven’t moved forward, he recommends turning to an online faxing service, and visiting FindAFax to find one that fits your needs. You can learn more about Brian on Google+.