Technology is only as valuable as value that is perceived by its user. The technology that impacts the future are technologies that people adopt and use. These are the technologies to watch.
There are many of these technologies on my list at the moment but I only have time/space to share two with you.
The next step in printing: 3D printing allows you to print any object with various materials from a digital model. This innovation is fast becoming one of the biggest game-changers in the industry today.
Prototypes to Production
Previously this was primarily used for creating prototypes of projects that would later go into production. According to Forbes, in the next few years we will start to see 3D printing become mainstream. You will be able to fly on aeroplanes that are made up with 3D printed parts. Overall the volume of 3D printed parts (especially where specialised designs are necessary) will increase in the motor, aero and appliance industries.
In addition to changes in the manufacturing industries, we will soon see medicine changing with 3D printing to new bio-materials. This technology will allow medical professionals to design bone replacements exactly to the shape needed to a limb or joint. Organ donor shortages could be eliminated as experiments in soft tissue are underway and printing organs may be a real possibility.
A shift in product customisation
Consumers worldwide are becoming more difficult to please, as they are starting to desire more custom solutions, fashion, and technology. Consumers are becoming more aware that these custom solutions are possible and are therefore demanding them in the market place.
3D printing will help organisations (especially retailers) to provide completely custom products to their customers. A great example of this emerging trend is I recently designed a custom-speced iPhone case online – and then had it shipped to me.
New learning tools
3D printers will help schools provide practical outcomes to theoretical teachings in code and design. Scholars will be able to print out their creations, test them in real life and make changes to the items they create. Further to this, the technology may even become cost effective enough to make it into the home, just like the inkjet printer.
There is no doubt that mobile technology is shaping our future. The mobile device has achieved market success and is currently more accessible than running water around the globe. In the last few years we have seen a massive increase of businesses offering services in the mobile arena with mobile banking probably being one of the biggest services creating the most interest. An interesting example in the mobile arena is machine to machine communication (M2M).
M2M uses mobile technology to allow machines to communicate to each other.
According to Wikipedia “If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things- using data they gathered without any help from us- we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The ‘Internet of Things’ has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”
In simpler terms, if we could find a way for inanimate objects to capture data to the internet we would be able to create databases of information of extreme value. In addition, if we could create systems that initiated processes based on this collected data we could manage simple important processes better, and with less human error.
A colleague of mine just ordered his pebble watch which will control his android phone, making it easier to see who’s calling; accept calls; use music applications and a host of other services that we like to have quick access to.
As we consider the future of mobile we really need to break out the box of the mobile phone and explore every single mobile device. Shoes could become better objects to track our running and send that data to the cloud which will in turn, send it back to our phones with a summary of our performance.
A simple idea with big impact. By utilising the ‘Internet of Things’, you will be able to monitor how water is used, petrol is consumed, the temperature of fridges and many other aspects that normally are difficult to monitor in real time.
A great example of this in the health sector is managing the temperature of blood from donors. This blood needs to be kept at a specific temperature and a change by one degree either way may cause that blood to be unusable. As blood is in short supply it makes sense to do everything we can to ensure nothing goes wrong with the temperature.
M2M communication can monitor the temperature of the fridge and then make necessary adjustments in real time to accommodate any changes taking place.
Building a smarter city
Vodafone have been taking big strides forward in this arena and have been working with Venice to create a ‘Smart City’.
Traffic is managed by machines talking to each other, sending data back and forth through M2M, and finally collected in a central location. The data collected in this location will then be able to provide insight into better traffic management to allow for higher security, environmental improvements and a decrease in traffic congestion.
Parking in pay zones is now managed by sms by allowing people to sms their starting and ending parking times and allowing them to pay through a ‘phone call.’ Meanwhile the administration of parked vehicles by officials can be done with a tablet with online access or any mobile phone.
Local citizens can subscribe to notification services about election news; changes in bus routes; council meetings and a variety of other notice-based services.
These are just a few ways that Venice have been using the internet of things to create a smarter city.
Technology that helps us be more human
In all of these technologies we are beginning to see how technology will continue to solve problems for us in the future. There has aways been a concern that technology will make us less human by replacing our need for personal interaction. In these examples it can be argued that technology is becoming an assistant to our human nature by making life easier and better to help us live longer lives, more conveniently and productively, and hopefully enhancing our human connection instead of replacing it.