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Emerging Technologies

11 Amazing Examples of Disruptive Technology

Virtual reality example of disruptive technology

The pace of innovation is incredibly fast with new things being discovered daily. Here are eleven examples of the most disruptive technologies at the time of writing:

1. Internet of Things (IoT):

How the internet of things will create a smart world infographic

This refers to identifiable objects and virtual representations in the internet. Equipping all objects with machine readable identifiers or minuscule identifying devices could dramatically change lives. Such devices could, therefore, be used in health, mining, manufacturing among others The only danger is that the connections could present high security threats. IoT is certainly an interesting innovation to look into.

2. Artificial Intelligence:

Photo of an artificial intelligence humanoid robot sitting on a desk under develeopment.

This is a special type of intelligence that is exhibited by computers and other machines. It’s a flexible agent that perceives its environment and takes the necessary action required for the success of that particular phenomenon. Artificial intelligence is used when machines copy the cognitive functions of the human brain in learning and solving problems. As machines become increasingly capable, other facilities are removed from the definition. Although this area has a long history, professionals in the field are getting ever closer to achieving artificial intelligence.

3. Space Colonization:

Examples of Space Colonisation

Presently, only a few highly trained and selected astronauts can go to space. But based on the materials available at the time of writing, the human population in space could exceed one trillion people in the 22nd Century. Space colonization is where settlers will occupy gigantic spacecraft or other planets and moons. This human advancement is already in existence with projects such as the International Space Station. NASA has also come up with several space colonization projects such as the National Space Society, and International Space Development Conference where students participate in contents.

In addition, there are many private enterprises such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and Stratolaunch Systems working on space-tourism/colonization, which are funded by billionares Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Paul Allen respectively. Space colonization is a good example of disruptive technology where lots of macro disruptive technologies will be invented as a result.

4. 3D Printing:

Good Example of a 3D Printed Car

What would happen if we could create anything including cars simply by printing? Although this is hard to imagine, it is already happening. We could now print settlements, space-stations, furniture, utensils, transportation, clothes, games, food, body-parts, and a long list of other assets through the transfer of a document containing such files. This list also expands to include glass, soybean base, wood filler, icing sugar, Nutella, metal, rubber, wood and even concrete. This technology is already changing many things. 

Five year forecast of the 3D printing industry.
Forbes

USA, Europe, and China are the top 3 places with the most 3D printer manufacturers in the world. According to forecasts by Forbes the 3D Printing industry will grow by 133% within three years, from $9b in 2017 to $21b in 2020. In the long-term the commercial activity of transporting goods to customers and the fabrication of products on a large scale using machinery will be disrupted by 3D printing. As an advantage, this will reduce human activities that cause climate change. Furthermore, 3D printing is without a doubt an enabler of the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

5. Medical Innovations:

Picture of a woman editing DNA, example of CRISPR technology.

At the time of writing, there are many medical innovations that are in existence and being further trialled. These include vaccines that were not there before, genomic directed clinical trials, gene editing using CRISPR, cell-free fetal DNA testing, cancer screening through protein biomarker analysis, frictionless remote monitoring and more. This is an interesting area to look into, particularly if you are into healthcare. 

6. High-Speed Travel:

High-speed travel technology has already taken the first step towards reality with the first test involving the Hyperloop One prototype propulsion system. Elon Musk, founder of the Hyperloop, intends to make this a reality before 2020, and has recently closed an $80 million funding round that includes investment from several other companies. When this emerging technology gets developed and implemented on a mass scale, it will solve many complex long distance issues. High-speed travel could also relieve over-crowded cities by decreasing the need for urbanisation.

7. Robotics:

Robot Prosphetics (Disruptive Technology Examples)

Robotics is another exciting innovation when it comes to disruptive technology. It corresponds with capable robotics or robots that have enhanced dexterity, senses, and intelligence. These robots can perform tasks that were previously thought to be too hard or expensive to automate. Society could benefit a lot when it comes to these technologies. People have already started making use of robotic surgical systems, robotic prosthetics, and nanorobotics to name a few. Robotics certainly deserves its place among the most disruptive technologies of the 21st Century. 

8. Blockchain Technology:

Top 20 blockchain books and whitepapers

This is a distributed ledger technology that makes Bitcoin, Stellar (Lumens), Ethereum, and others possible by providing a record of transactions and confirming who has what at any given moment. Its security is assured by the sophisticated cryptographic processes. The immediate impact of blockchain technology may not be clear for the non-technological eye, however it will certainly improve existing systems within society at large. For more information about blockchain technology, read my article Why Blockchain? What Exactly Are the Societal Implications?

9. Autonomous Vehicles:

This technology includes automated cars and drones. It refers to vehicles or drones that could operate and self-drive in many situations using advanced sensors such as LIDAR and other systems of communications from machines. According to an article published in Times Magazine in 2013, some of the new users of these vehicles will be farmers, architects, and even real estate agents. At the time of writing, you could have a personal drone tracking your phone to carry your shopping bags or to keep a camera focused on you.

10. Advanced Virtual Reality:

Blonde female teenager testing Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality already exists on a commercial level. However, it may become even more advanced by being developed to help people enhance their memories or even mental wellbeing. There will be lots of benefits coming from Virtual Reality. Companies such as Void and Virtalis are already helping people experience new dimensions and things without limits.

11. Renewable Energy:

The generation of energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind is certainly disruptive, particularly when compared with traditional energy sources. According to experts, renewable energy will globally minimise climate change and pollution. Renewable energy includes technological inventions such as wind turbines, photovoltaic cells, concentrated solar power, geothermal energy, ocean wave power among others. This is another great example of disruptive technology which will accelerate sustainable development.

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