In an era characterised by rapid technological advancement, it seems each passing day brings us something new to marvel at. Whether it’s same-day drone delivery, opinionated robots or real-time translation earbuds, the future is an exciting place – a place we’ve barely even begun to explore. As we stand on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution, the world is primed for a second wave of digital transformation.
Nevertheless, there still exist a range of challenges we are yet to solve; problems that come with an ageing, ever-growing population and a fragile planet that has long suffered from neglect. Now, companies big and small across the world are seeking to address these issues head on. Already, we are witnessing their efforts to make the world a better place through technology.
Soon, the following solutions will go mainstream and shape the way we live, work and experience the world around us:
QTrobot is a toddler-like humanoid AI robot built by LuxAI, a University of Luxembourg spin-off, for the purpose of aiding in the development of children with autism. Standing around two feet tall, QTrobot can see, hear, talk and communicate non-verbally by showing facial expressions on its LCD face and gesturing with its body.
Already, the AI-powered robot is proving revolutionary in the emotional training of autistic children as well as assisting adults through post-stroke rehabilitation. According to researchers, the human-like quality of QT makes for a far more effective method than apps and tablets because the individual gets the sense of communicating with another person.
Last year, entrepreneur Yonatan Adiri was inspired by a traumatic accident that his mother endured to develop a cutting-edge app that is now being dubbed as ‘life-saving.’ Following a bad fall, his mother had been diagnosed with a few broken ribs – however, when she lost consciousness during her travels in China, Yonatan’s father sent images of her CT scans to her son via his mobile. Doctors were keen to fly her to Hong Kong for treatment, but when Yonatan showed the images to a trauma doctor, they instantly diagnosed a punctured lung. Had the photos not been sent and shown to a specialist, his mother could have died.
The experience inspired the entrepreneur to explore how the smart phone could be turned into a diagnostic device. The result was Healthy.io, a home-based urinalysis kit that turns a smartphone into a clinical-grade diagnostic device. Now approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and by European Union regulators, the app relies on “medical selfies” and screens for signs of urinary tract infection, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Food-detecting AI sensors
This year, IBM has revealed it is “en route” to developing tech that the world’s farmers, food processors and grocers can use to detect dangerous contaminants in their food. Reliant on sensor technology, the prototype proved promising in identifying food-borne pathogens within produce.
Soon, the days of Googling “is it safe to heat rice after it’s been cooked” will be over. When integrated with smart phones, even home cooks could take advantage of this technology to test for pathogens in their food and reduce the risk of contracting harmful E.coli or Salmonella.
Announced on stage at the Think conference in San Francisco, IBM further revealed their innovative recycling solution called VolCat, a catalytic chemical process that digests certain plastics called polyesters into a substance that can be fed directly back into plastic manufacturing machines in order to make new products.
If this technology lives up to the hype, it will be revolutionary: with the possibility to create new plastics from just about any form of rubbish, everything from grocery bags and empty containers will have the potential to become something useful.
Crispr was first invented in late 2012; a low-cost gene editor that would be easy to use and transformational in its abilities. Research labs across the globe soon started using it to alter an organism’s genome — the entire set of its DNA instructions. Touted by some as a ‘miracle-worker’, Crispr has been a long time in the making but will soon become commonplace in the treatment of genetic diseases like Huntington’s and cystic fibrosis.
Thanks to CRISPR Cas-9 (an abbreviation standing for "Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats"), genetic diseases could be completely eliminated. This invention’s ability to identify and remove mutated sections of DNA is already proving successful in eliminating cancer in some patients and even has potential to remove genetic blindness from a bloodline.
Patients suffering from spinal cord injuries can often experience numbness or paralysis, which can make performing everyday tasks a significant challenge. However, thanks to Korean company Neofect, the quality of life of a patient can be drastically improved (and their rehabilitation facilitated) through the use of a ground-breaking glove called NeoMano meaning ‘new hand’, which wraps around the palm, index and middle fingers to allow the user to hold and grip objects.
The glove is connected to a rubber pad that can be controlled with an elbow or arm to activate grip and release motions. Revealing the prototype of NeoMano at CES, the company says the lightweight nature of the glove makes for a perfect solution that can be worn every day to make life easier and more enjoyable following such an injury.
In 2018, Norwegian retailer Carlings became the first company to create a completely digital clothing collection to raise awareness of water consumption in the fashion industry.
Titled ‘NeoEx’, the clothing line exists as digital assets and works by users uploading a posed picture of themselves. Once the picture is uploaded, and the digital assets purchased, Carlings’ designers fit the clothes on to the image of the model giving a hyper-real effect – so much so, that most people couldn’t tell the difference by simply looking at the image.
The aim, however, is not to help people get ‘Likes’ on Instragram, but to reduce waste in the fashion industry. Due to being digital only, the collection has no negative environmental impact and gives way to a whole host of new possibilities if combined with AR for fashion shows.
If your organisation wants to make the most of digital, whether it’s a technology mentioned in this article or a new idea you’re bringing to the table, we can help you see, make and live the change. Get in touch with a member of the team today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01225 220155.