Technology continues to change human lives for the better. The World Economic Forum pinpoints 10 emerging technologies that are ready to have a meaningful impact on society. This means many of these technological marvels are ready to be in the hands of everyday consumers within a matter of years as opposed to decades.
Instead of the Internet of Things, which should reach 30 billion connected devices in 2020, emerging technologies now have tiny embedded sensors based on nanotechnology. Very small sensors can apply to several fields, such as health, architecture and agriculture, to monitor conditions just about anywhere.
The World Economic Forum cites blockchain technology as the next generation of accounting and ledger software. The technology breaks down transactions into smaller bits of data, or blocks, to reduce the computing power necessary to start and complete various transactions. These blocks form a symbolic chain in the information infrastructure.
3. Next-Generation Batteries
Newer batteries have the potential to store electricity in the walls of homes or as a way to distribute power in small cities and towns. These emerging technologies can alter the way humans use renewable electricity so that extra power doesn't go back into the grid.
4. Autonomous Vehicles
Several automakers and tech companies, including Volvo, Ford, Uber, Lyft and Google, are collaborating to create self-driving vehicles. Research behind these projects has been going on for years, and autonomous vehicles that may not require a driver should hit roads in less than 10 years. These vehicles can save lives, reduce pollution and help the elderly remain mobile.
5. 2-D Materials
Emerging technologies tout 3-D printing, but nanotechnology brings out very thin 2-D materials that could improve batteries, wearable devices and air filters. Graphene, or very thin carbon molecules, can form a single layer just one atom thick.
6. Perovskite Solar Cells
Instead of traditional silicon, emerging technologies may rely on solar cells made with perovskite. These ceramic materials can turn sunlight into electricity more efficiently than silicon. Once the price of perovskite comes down, more efficient solar panels can go mainstream.
7. Smart A.I.
Huge amounts of data may lead to smart digital assistants. These assistants use the latest computer programs to help organize and track data for finances, health and more.
8. Organs on Chips
Instead of real organs, scientists and engineers created a wafer-sized chip that mimics the functions of certain human organs. This could revolutionize health care for people who need vital organs. This might lead to longer, better lives for everyone.
9. Plant Renewables
More and more renewable energy resources come from plant-based materials. This can save carbon emissions while creating a nearly endless supply of raw materials for energy rather than extracting fossil fuels from the Earth.
Medical researchers use optogenetics to control living cells. Recent advances may lead to new techniques that lets light penetrate into brain tissue to create healthy connections within the human nervous system. This might lead to better treatments for brain disorders in the future.
Some of these emerging technologies may be farther off into the future than others because development may take longer. No matter which items go mainstream, the world is in an exciting transitional state as computer technology moves forward.
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