Article by Noemi Blanco. Account Manager, Innova Industrial Design.
#Technology #Science #Covid
Technological advances have always been key agents of change. During the last few decades, we have been witnesses to enormous progress in technological innovation, artificial intelligence, big data and many other fields. In 2020, we are experiencing major global challenges, including COVID-19 and climate change. And some of the 10 emergent technologies of 2020 help respond to these challenges.
These technologies focus on improvements in medical assistance, the reduction of the carbon footprint, use of renewable energies, and digital technologies which promise to change industries and our everyday lives.
According to experts, these are the 10 principal emergent technologies of 2020, which will revolutionize industry, health and society:
- Micro-needles for painless injections and tests
These needles are tiny, with a depth of no more than a sheet of paper and a width of a human hair. They can penetrate the skin without disturbing underlying nerve endings and can be attached to syringes or patches, or can even be mixed into creams. They could make it possible to take blood at home and send it to the laboratory, or test it on the spot. Their use does not require costly equipment or high levels of training.
- Solar-powered chemistry
The manufacture of many chemical products on which we depend require fossil fuels. This innovation may reduce emissions in the sector by converting residual carbon dioxide in useful chemical products through the use of solar light. The development of activated catalysts would allow the creation of “solar” refineries, which would produce useful compounds from the waste gas. These compounds could include everything from medications and detergents to fertilizers and textiles.
- Virtual Patients
The complex science behind human simulation attempts to make clinical trials faster and safer by taking high-resolution images of a human organ, and through a complex mathematical model, controlling the mechanisms through which the organ functions. Later, computer algorithms resolve the resulting equations and generate a virtual organ which behaves just like the real thing. These virtual body organs and systems could be used to replace human beings in the initial evaluations of medications and treatments, ensuring that the process is faster, safer and cheaper.
- Spatial computing
This seems to be the next step in the union of the physical and digital worlds that we are already seeing with virtual reality and augmented reality applications, which digitize the objects which are connected through the cloud, allowing sensors and motors to react between them, and creating a digital representation of the real world. Spatial computing takes this even further, adding spatial maps which allow a computer “coordinator” to track and control movements and interactions through the digital or physical world. This technology will bring new developments in how people and machines interact in industry, in medical treatment, transport and the home.
- Digital medicine
The applications which monitor patient conditions or administer therapy could improve medical care, helping patients with limited access to health services. Work is underway on tools similar to smart watches, which can already detect if the wearer has an irregular heartbeat. These new tools could help patients with respiratory disorders, depression, Alzheimer’s and more. Pills with sensors are even being developed, sending data to apps to help detect body temperature, or abnormalities like stomach bleeding and cancerous DNA.
- Electric aviation
A large number of organizations, from Airbus to NASA, are working on electric propulsion for airplanes, which would reduce carbon emissions in this mode of transport to reduce carbon emissions, as well as cut fuel costs and reduce noise. While there would be some handicaps to resolve, such as long-haul electric flights, and regulatory and cost hurdles, there has been significant investment in this field. There are around 170 electric aircraft projects in development, primarily for private, corporate and commuter travel, but Airbus says it could have 100-passenger electric aircraft ready for take-off by 2030.
- Low-carbon content cement
Annual cement production of 4 billion tonnes represents about 8% of global CO2 emission, as the process requires the burning of fuel and this figure is expected to rise in the next 30 years, up to 5 billion tonnes. Researchers and startups are taking on low-carbon approaches to remove emissions and cement from concrete completely.
- Quantum sensors
Quantum sensors could make possible a self-driving car that can “see” around corners, or hand-held scanners that can monitor a person’s brain activity. The majority of quantum systems operate with extreme levels of precision, exploiting the quantum nature of matter, using the difference between electronics in different energy states. They are complex and expensive, but smaller, more affordable examples are being developed that could open up new uses.
- Green Hydrogen
The decarbonization of the planet is one of the goals set by countries around the world for 2050.
This technology is based on the generation of hydrogen, a universal, lightweight and highly reactive fuel, through a chemical process known as electrolysis. When hydrogen is burned, the only resulting by-product is water, and when produced by electrolysis with renewable energy, it turns “green.”
Green Hydrogen could play a key role in the energy transition of sectors such as shipping and manufacturing. These sectors are the most difficult to electrify because they require high-energy fuels. Starting this year, it is predicted that green hydrogen will become a 12 billion-dollar market by 2050.
When hydrogen is burned, the only resulting by-product is water, and when produced by electrolysis with renewable energy, it turns “green.”
- Complete genome synthesis
There has been a breakthrough in synthetic biology that promises to completely transform cell engineering. Whole genome synthesis is an extension of the booming field of synthetic biology, which uses software to design genetic sequences that are produced and fed into a microbe, reprogramming it to do the job it wants.
Improvements in technology are making it possible to print increasing amounts of genetic material and alter genomes more extensively.
This could provide information on how viruses are spread or help produce vaccines and other treatments. In the future, scientists could even design pathogen-resistant plants, or we could write our own genome, opening the door to potential misuse, of course, but also to cures for genetic diseases.
However, knowledge of the technology is as its possible applications. If you want to learn more about Innova Industrial Design, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.