There is a lot to look forward to in the world of technology, from hydrogen aircraft and energy-storing bricks to mind-reading robots. It’s safe to say that our future is full of exciting and transformative technology still to come.
So we’ve compiled a list of 5 exciting emerging technologies that have the potential to change our world…
Mind-reading robots have often been a concept seen only in movies. However, in recent years, these brain-reading robots have become much more advanced and a concept of the not-so-far-away future.
A recent unveil in China, saw one of the first futuristic mind-reading robot arms, capable of being controlled by no physical or verbal gesture from a human but by brainwaves instead. The wearable headgear designed by the Intelligent Manufacturing Innovation Technology Centre at China Three Gorges University, scans a user’s brainwaves and muscle activity, to make commands, then sent to the attachment on the user’s arm. The robot arm reportedly picked up a tool and placed it on a workstation and even assembled a product.
This mind-reading technology followed the commands of the workers 70% of the time, signalling an exciting and near technical breakthrough. However, the users did need to concentrate very hard for the brain message to be read, with many becoming too distracted due to the repetitive nature of the thoughts. This new technology has also only been used in a lab for testing, meaning in real-life situations, algorithms could be thrown off generating the robot to make an unintentional error.
So, it looks like mind-reading robots aren’t quite ready to be a reality yet, but a technology of the future to be excited about.
Emissions from aviation are a significant contributor to climate change, with emissions from air transport growing faster than any other mode of transport. However, there is a solution on the horizon in hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Airbus, a European multinational aerospace corporation, has set itself the goal of developing the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035. Their three ZEROe concept aircraft are all powered by hydrogen combustion through modified gas turbine engines. In addition, hydrogen fuel cells create electrical power that complements the gas turbine, resulting in a highly efficient hybrid-electric propulsion system.
Recently launching their ZEROe demonstrator, Airbus aims to test their hydrogen combustion technology on an A380 multimodal platform to achieve a mature technology by 2025.
The ATI’s FlyZero project, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also began in early 2021 as an intensive research project investigating zero-carbon emission commercial flights.
If this cleaner technology could be actualised, it could put flying on a cleaner path for the future.
These days energy can be stored in various mediums however, researchers at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, have recently discovered how to use everyday building bricks, to store energy.
Using the building material that has been used in construction for over 6,000 years, scientists were able to power an LED light.
“In this work, we have developed a coating of the conducting polymer PEDOT, which is comprised of nanofibers that penetrate the inner porous network of a brick; a polymer coating remains trapped in a brick and serves as an ion sponge that stores and conducts electricity,” Julio M. D’Arcy, co-author of the study and an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the Washington University in St. Louis, stated.
Researchers estimate that 50 capacitor bricks would take 13 minutes to charge and could provide enough energy to power the emergency lighting of a building for at least 50 minutes.
There is still a long way to go before the technology can be commercialised and the amount of energy stored in these bricks is currently limited. However, it is an exciting technological concept that has the potential to generate a substantial amount of renewable energy.
Artificial and bionic eyes
Artificial and bionic eyes are no longer just a concept of imagination, with current trials proving successful in returning the eyesight to those with untreatable blindness.
In 2021, a 78-year-old patient was able to see his family and read words for the first time after losing his sight over a decade ago. Using an artificial cornea developed by an Israeli company, the patient underwent a procedure to have a CorNeat KPro device implanted into his eye. Enabling his sight to be regained.
Monash University in Australia will also soon begin human trials of a bionic vision system that restores sight to people who have lost their sight. The Gennaris bionic vision system avoids damaged optic nerves that are blocking signals from the retina to the brain’s vision centre by using a custom headgear equipped with a built-in camera, a wireless transmitter, a “vision processor,” and a set of tiles kitted with electrodes surgically implanted on the brain itself.
Although both are still in clinical trials, this is an exciting step forward for medical technology which in the future could see returned eyesight for people with untreatable blindness.
Living programmable organisms
The world’s first living robot using stem cells is claimed to have been created by scientists in the US.
Known as xenobots, these tiny hybrids, created using stem cells from frog embryos, were designed on a supercomputer at the University of Vermont (UVM) and then assembled by biologists at Tufts University.
“These are novel living machines, they’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artefact: a living, programmable organism.” said Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the UVM who co-led the research.
At the width of just a millimetre, the xenobots can move around and heal themselves after being cut. These living robots, which are still in testing, could one day be used to swim around human bodies to specific areas in need of medicine or to collect microplastics in the oceans.
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