Imagine software applications or computers that can be manipulated by the mere power of thought. Or 3D images that are projected onto empty space rather than physical screens. This sort of “bleeding edge” technology may almost seem like science fiction. But thanks to recent advances in technology, we’re on the cusp of these achievements and many more like them.
In February the World Economic Forumreleased a report listing the top emerging technologies for 2014. The Forum, famous for its yearly winter meeting in Davos, Switzerland, aims to better the world by working with leaders in business, politics and academia.
Their report listed ten trends in technology expected to be extremely influential in the coming years.
“It’s unlikely that many of these will come to fruition as expected,” According to Jason Hope, technology expert. “That’s the imperfect nature of projections. But some of the technologies listed have transformative potential, and the timelines involved could be more accelerated than the public may think.”
Here’s a breakdown of the ten emerging technologies cited by the World Economic Forum.
Screen-less visual displays
Holographic technology has come a long way in recent years. Concertgoers have seen deceased musicians seamlessly perform on stage via hologram at major music festivals, for example. That technology sounds exciting enough, but scientists are working on something even more radical — directly projecting images onto human retinas. Such retinal displays could be used for computing and gaming, according to the World Economic Forum Report.
There has been a resurgence of interest in RNA therapy, according to the Forum’s report. That could pave the way for major advanced in medical therapies for diseases that are resistant to conventional approaches. This kind of genetic work is in its infancy, but has the potential for transformative results.
Controlling a computer with thoughts seems the stuff of far-out science fiction, but it’s closer to reality than many think. The Forum notes that this kind of technology has already been used to work with paralyzed patients or victims of stroke. The potential for medical uses — or everyday productivity or entertainment uses — is vast.
We all emit a vast cloud of data, whether through our computers, smartphones or credit cards. Scientists are using this data to design predictive models of behavior, models that can improve our health, improve our productivity and generally make large interconnected systems work more efficiently. The issue, as the Forum’s report points, out, is one of privacy. How do we reap the benefits of analytics while safeguarding our rights and quality of life?
Human Microbiome Therapeutics
It might not be the most pleasant of thoughts, but there are trillions of microbes within our bodies. Some are essential to our health, and others can destroy it. The Forum notes that research into these microbes continues to shed new light on how certain bodily processes work and how disease can be prevented. With microbial cells outnumbering human cells ten-to-one, there is plenty of scientific ground to cover.
Nanowire lithium-ion batteries
Anyone who has ever had a device fail at an inopportune moment should feel excited by the new class of batteries. The Forum estimates nanowire batteries could provide up to 40-percent more power time — and charge much faster than standard batteries.
Grid Scale Electrical Storage
Should grid scale electrical storage become possible, we’d be able to use energy from clean sources such as wind and solar as efficiently and effectively as we use energy from sources such as coal or gas. Should this become reality, it could have planet-altering effects.
Metals Mined from Desalination Brine
The Forum notes that freshwater is becoming an ever scarcer resource thanks to global growth. Desalination provides freshwater, but also creates a briny waste product that’s bad for the sea. New technology may allow us to harvest minerals from this brine.
Nanostructured Carbon Composites
New carbon composites may reduce the weight of vehicles by ten-percent, according to the Forum. This would have dramatic effects with regard to fuel efficiency.
Body Adapted Wearable Electronics
This is technology already available in stores. Wearable technology is becoming more and more popular among consumers, and offers a personalized and data-centric method to optimize workouts, entertainment options and health.
About The Author:
Amy Taylor is a business and technology writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, AZ. She enjoys writing about business technology trends. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking with her Alaskan Malamute, Sam.