Towards the end of each year, much of the tech and business media traditionally make predictions about which technologies to watch during the following year. These prognostications are always of interest to, among others, people working in technology, the sciences, startups, academia and financial services. However, many of these predictions often do not live up to their hype or expectations.
Nonetheless, on November 20, 2014, correspondent Sam Grobart hosted a 45-minute presentation on Bloomberg Television entitled The Year Ahead: Innovation about ten technologies ranging from food to virtual reality that conveyed a remarkable sense of excitement and anticipation from start to finish. Any of these ten could reasonably be expected to find their markets and break out, but only time will tell. All of them are offering highly imaginative and innovative systems that could potentially and significantly impact domestic and global populations and markets.
Be assured that this is not a puff piece on these innovators and their work. Rather, this is a declaration of the work being done by very smart and resourceful people striving to make a difference in their fields. I highly recommend viewing this in its entirety.
This intriguing peek over the horizon featured the following:
- Soft Robotics Inc. is working on the design and materials for robots with soft exoskeletons for applications in rehabilitative medicine, space exploration and athletic clothing.
- Thalmic Labs has created an input device called the Myo Armband for computers and other electronics that consists of a band of sensors worn on the user’s forearm that interprets different physical movements as gestural input.
- Hyve 3D – As discussed in a Subway Fold post on August 28, 2014 entitled Hyve-3D: A New 3D Immersive and Collaborative Design System is a very agile and extensible virtual development platform. This program takes you inside of it with its director, Tomas Dorta, at the University of Montreal and further reports on how Hollywood is now using the system to create virtual storyboards and other projects are in for building construction.
- AeroFarms is fabricating and implementing “vertical farms” using aeroponics to grow crops, faster and more energy efficiently than under traditional farming, in a system using mists of water rather than planting in soil.
- Beyond Meat is creating imitation chicken and beef products using plant components to achieve comparable tastes and food textures.
- Akahn Technologies is growing industrial diamonds and integrating them into computer chips in place of heat sinks thus significantly reducing heat generation and enabling much slimmer computing devices to be manufactured.
- Suneris is working on a product called “Vetigel” that fully stops major bleeding from wounds and burns within a matter of seconds.
- The Zephyr from Airbus a solar powered, geostationary hybrid drone and satellite being built and tested to provide broadband network access to underserved territories.
- Groundwater Replenishment System by the Orange County Water System is purifying waste water and groundwater back into drinkable water in drought-stricken Southern California.
- Jaunt is developing an entirely new platform and 360 degree camera to create fully immersive virtual reality movies to be viewed using the versatile new Oculus Rift headset.*
Mr. Grobart’s reporting and the production values on this show are absolutely top flight in every journalistic respect. None of the ten endeavors are over- or undersold, but rather, objectively formatted and presented. The production is internally consistent in its narratives about each one and sequenced in a logical order. Thus, the micro view of each startup or project and the macro view of these innovators innovating is done in a highly professional and accessible manner. IMHO, these are all great stories well told.**
In a world filled with so much troubling news each day, it was incredibly refreshing and inspiring to watch this program and try to assess the potential these undertakings.
* See the cover story from the May 2014 issue of WIRED entitled The Inside Story of Oculus Rift and How Virtual Reality Became Reality by Peter Rubin for comprehensive coverage of this technology and company.
** X-ref to this November 6, 2014 Subway Fold post entitled Say, Did You Hear the Story About the Science and Benefits of Being an Effective Storyteller?