Ten Technological Innovations That Will Change Our World
In today’s ever changing technological world it seems like there is a new app or gadget being designed and marketed every day to help us in all aspects of our work or personal lives. Here we have listed what many researchers believe to be the ten new technologies that will make the biggest impact on the general population over the coming years.
- SMART TRANSFORMERS. With the search for greener technologies becoming ever more popular and important professor Alex Huang of the North Carolina State University has begun development of a new type of transformer that he hopes will drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The transformers design will make connecting devices like a solar panel or an electric car to the grid as easy as connecting a digital camera or printer to a computer. While conventional transformers can only handle AC current and require manual adjustment to redirect energy Huang hopes that the new compact transformer will be able to cope with both AC and DC currents. The new design will also allow for electronic adjustment/control enabling the device to automatically respond to fluctuations in the grid by, for example, tapping unused power from a neighbours solar panels when needed. It is believed that the widespread use of this new transformer would drastically reduce the number of power stations required to provide the necessary electrical supply to consumers.
- GESTURAL INTERFACE. This is a 3-D vision system that allows users to control a computer simply by gesturing in the air. The system, developed by Alexander Shpunt of Tel Aviv`s Prime Sense, was used in Microsofts Xbox Kinect but gaming is literally only the beginning of the possible applications for this kind of technology.
- CANCER GENOMICS. The ongoing fight to beat cancer has been given a massive boost with the development of a machine that is able to read a patients DNA at a faster rate than ever before allowing medical professionals to sequence cancer tissues and score them for the genetic DNA mutations that cause the disease. The findings from research carried out using this new technology have enabled researchers to identify thousands of these mutations, lead to new approaches for treating the disease and opened up many new avenues of research to follow.
- SOLID STATE BATTERIES. The batteries for electric cars are extremely expensive and, due to the necessary nature of their design, take up a large amount of space in the car; researchers at Sakti3 are now attempting to design solid state batteries that will be half the size and price of the ones that are available today. Unlike the lithium-ion batteries in use today the design of the SSBs will involve replacing the liquid electrolyte with a thin layer of non flammable material and the new resilience will allow for the use of materials that will effectively double or even triple the current battery life expectancy.
- HOMOMORPHIC ENCRYPTION. The use of cloud servers for data storage is rising rapidly and the need for security to protect this information has never been greater; IBMs Craig Gentry suggests that homomorphic encryption is the answer. The problem exists due to the fact that the cloud computers are unable to keep the data encrypted once it arrives on the server, Gentry proposes that homomorphic encryption makes it possible to analyse the data without decrypting it thus keeping the data secure while on the system. At present the system runs too slow for practical use but it is hoped that it could be ready for the general market in 5 to 10 years time.
- CLOUD STREAMING. Cloud computing and gaming are becoming ever more intertwined and due to the new cloud streaming technologies that are being developed it is thought that the physical devices used for such gaming like the PlayStation or Xbox will eventually become obsolete. Gaming will not be the only area of computing to benefit from this new tech, schools, businesses and users with moblie devices will be able to access all manner of powerfull softwares very quickly and effiiently. One researcher quotes: “The long-term vision is actually to move all computing out to the cloud.”
- CRASH PROOF CODE. Scenario 1 – You are working on your computer and it crashes, this is very annoying. Scenario 2 – You are hooked up to a lifesaving medical device and the computer system running it crashes, you get the picture. Researchers at Australia`s national IT research center (NCITA) are designing the most important part of an operating system, the core or kernel, in such a way that they can ensure it will never crash. Current systems in place for creating reliable software rely on trial and error checks, these checks basically involve researchers imagining as many different scenarios as they can and running tests based on those situations. The new method proposed by NCITA uses a process known as formal varification which formally verifys the code that makes up most of the kernel of an operating system and passes software instructions from other parts of the system to hardware for execution effectively making the system crash proof.
- SEPARATING CHROMOSOMES. Cells are piped into a microfluidic chip and trapped in a chamber before the cells membrane is burst causing the chromosomes to spill out where they can undergo normal analysis. This technology will make it easier to identify the variations between chromosomes and could have a huge impact on fundamental genomic research and personalized medicine.
- SYNTHETIC CELLS. Ever since biologists made large enough pieces of DNA to create a genome they have been trying create to the first living creatures with a completely artificial genome; Daniel Gibson of Craig Venter Institute and his colleagues used yeast cells to stitch together thousands of fragments of DNA made by a machine, pooled the longer pieces, and repeated the process until the genome was complete. He then inserted that DNA into bacteria. Now he has microbes whose entire collection of genes was edited on a computer and assembled by machines. He and his colleagues believe that in the future, synthetic biologists could use this minimal cell as the basis for cells that efficiently produce biofuels, drugs and other industrial products.