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7 Emerging Technologies You Need to Know More About

The world is changing faster than ever before, and it's impossible to keep up with everything going on.

You can keep your eye on what's going on in general, however, and try to get a big-picture view of the progress of our little project on Earth. Check out some of the biggest tech trends that have already started changing the world, and won't be stopping for the foreseeable future.

Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

Like the other items on this list, VR is becoming more popular as the costs associated with the hardware and software continue to drop. Many of the current applications involve games (see Pokémon Go) or adult entertainment, though as VR becomes more lifelike it will become more valuable for other industries too.

Having lifelike, realistic VR means having a step up in our ability to train and educate people remotely, safely, and cheaply. There are already some applications of this, but we can expect to see many more en route like Google's new phones and Facebook's donation of VR kits to schools.

Dr. Shafi Ahmed was the first surgeon to live-stream an operation, giving viewers a chance to see the surgery from their own VR headsets. Dr. Ahmed's company has also developed VR training programs, giving surgeons the ability to practice on digital people before they stick a knife in the real thing.

Drones

Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are finding employment in all sorts of interesting careers. The process has accelerated since the FAA released regulations for drone flight a few months ago.

The ability of drones to get things done cheaper, faster, and more efficiently has been recognized. They can make deliveries, take account of agriculture and spray pesticide, cover news events, and even provide wireless internet access.

HeroX is hosting a challenge that drones would be well-suited for: the Land Survey Automation Challenge, which an innovator like you could use drones to help win.

Solar Panels

There's a lot going in the solar energy industry. Especially since the big news just last December, when the World Economic Forum announced that solar and wind energy are now competitive with fossil fuels.

It's now just as expensive to generate electricity with those renewable sources as it is with coal. Solar energy costs about $100/MWh (megawatt hour), while wind costs about $50/MWh.

Current experimental solar cells are even better than the commercial versions, so we can expect to see costs drop even further fairly soon.

Wearable Tech

Tech is fashionable. Just take a look through the new Snapchat Spectacles, which record 10-second video clips to upload to Snapchat.

As Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said about going on a hiking trip with Spectacles:

"I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable. It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”

The ability to record everything we do, from our own perspective is just one aspect of wearable tech.

It also includes the ability to augment ourselves, or provide specific services like Carnival's Ocean Medallion program. The Ocean Medallions, small discs that can be worn as necklaces, will give passengers the ability to unlock doors, buy food and drink, and find friends.

The Internet-of-Things

The Internet-of-Things (IoT) refers to our increasingly-connected world of little devices and gadgets – not just smartphones, but ovens, electrical outlets, door locks, even entire homes (in some sense).

Amazon recently made a big move in the IoT world at CES 2017 with the release of Alexa on a number of new products. Alexa is Amazon's AI voice assistant, much like Siri for Apple.

While Alexa was previously limited to the Echo speaker, it will now be available in potentially thousands of connected devices, giving Amazon an edge in a market dominated by Google and Apple.

AI/Automation

As artificial intelligence gets better, we'll find digital assistants taking over more and more of our daily tasks – and jobs as well.

While a full-fledged, human-level AI is still a long way away, we've been feeling the effects of narrow AI for years. From driving us around at 65 mph to predicting the election of Donald Trump, AI is gaining more and more traction.

We're seeing the controversy happen live in the fast food industry, where demands for increasing wages are fueling the automation of restaurants. The CEO of Car's Jr. is investing in AI, and Wendy's is looking into installing automated kiosks.

3D Printing

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, will change the world. It's a cheap and highly-customizable way to build all sorts of things, cheaper and with less waste.

We're learning to print with new materials for new purposes, and the applications are sometimes surprising. Food is definitely the tastiest, like chocolate or even pizza. Then there's clothing, which can be printed to your body's exact specifications.

It's getting to be that we can 3D print almost anything – cars, drones, guns (very controversially), and even 3D printers themselves!

 

What do you think about the path and progress of technology? We've seen incredible advances in our lifetimes, and there's really no telling where might go next.

There are dozens of other technologies that could have made this list. What are you passionate about? Check out the many challenges waiting to be solved on HeroX, and see if you can make a difference today!

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