What are some of the cutting edge technologies to watch out for 2016? What are its major breakthroughs and what are the risks we can expect from them? In the second part of this article, we describe list of companies working with disruptive technologies:
7. DNA App store
Consumer genetics is a novel field that might sound like a sci-fi idea, or even ethically edgy, but as a business model, it is here already: Helix is a company that aims to create the first “app store” for genetic information. This San Francisco company secured more than $100 million funding. Operating in the field of consumer genomics, it’s goal is to create the first DNA App Store. They want to make genetic information widely accessible online, so you are able to “uncover your DNA story in 2016”. That information could eventually help people discover a lot about their genome, which would help them gain awareness on the probabilities of getting certain diseases.
Other companies operating in the field of consumer genomics are Illumina and Veritas Genetics
The following video, explains what is consumer genetics:
8. Solar Energy
The solar industry is growing considerable, particularly due recent breakthroughs in the price of photovoltaic cells, that are increasingly cheaper. The solar industry needs cheaper and more efficient technology to be more competitive with fossil fuels. There are now companies that are able to make extremely effective solar panels which have a low-cost manufacturing process. That said, solar energy could finally become more attractive to homeowners. Some companies working with photovoltaics are SolarCity, SunPower, Panasonic, Forevergreen
The following video shows how a small community in Germany, is run entirely by solar energy. It was built in 2004 in Freiburg in Breisgau’s renowned Vauban quarter and it produces four times more energy than it needs.
9. Conversational User interfaces
An interesting technology that might revolutionise the way we interact with our smartphones is conversational User Interfaces (CUI). Conversational User Interfaces (CUI) are on the cusp of becoming mainstream, and they will forever change the way we interact with our technology, and in doing so, they will change our lives. These technologies use voice recognition software and natural language understanding to create effective speech interfaces. In China, voice recognition interfaces have picked up the attention of users. A large portion of China’s 691 million smartphone users search information using the country’s most popular search engine, Baidu, by using their voice. Companies working with CUIs are big players such as Nuance, Apple, Facebook, Google.
If you would like to know more about CUI, check out the following video:
10. Travelling to the space with a space elevator or a reusable rocket
One idea that has been hold for centuries in our collective imagination, was the possibility to build a huge lift into the space.
Now a Canadian firm has taken the first step to transform the dream into a really. It has been granted a patent for a ‘space elevator’ which will shoot cargo 12.4 miles into the stratosphere from where it can be launched more easily. The elevator would cut the cost of space flight by around one third because like this, shuttles would not need to carry the necessary huge amounts of fuel to take off from the ground. “Astronauts would ascend to 12 miles by electrical elevator,” said Dr Brendan Quine, the inventor.
Another hypothesis of travelling to the space is by using reusable rockets. Rockets used to destroy themselves on their space journey. Now, since 2015, they are able to return and make an upright landing. As such, they can be once more refueled for another trip. Sooner or later, due to this technology, spaceflight can become a hundred times cheaper, and we can all become travel tourists, at least once in our life time. Key companies working in the New Space Industry are SpaceX, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance
If Blue Origin hopes to propel tourists in capsules on four-minute space rides, Elon Musk’s SpaceX already launches satellites and space station supply missions.
11. Deep Learning: The days when machines will do the work
Deep learning is a technique by which machines are able to learn, and in particular, recognise voice and images more effectively than they do at the current time. According to the website www.deaplearning.net, deep learning is a new area of machine learning research, which has been introduced with the objective of moving machine learning closer to one of its original goals: Artificial Intelligence. Deep Learning will completely revolutionise the world and lead us quickly to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Learning about some of the deep learning startups to pay attention to in the months to come and what they are doing, can help us understand the potential of this disruptive technologies.
Enlitic is startup is working with the health care industry. Once its systems have trained on extensive libraries of medical images, Enlitic hopes to provide insight into new medical images that doctors might not necessarily be able to find on their own. Ersatz provides a general-purpose web service and on-premises software for training a neural network with words, text, and images and then using it to make predictions. MetaMind uses a method entitled recursive neural network, that crosses deep learning with natural-language processing. Its mission is to empower business applications with artificial intelligence. Skymind provides commercial support for companies that want to use DeepLearning4j and also incorporate deep learning into their Hadoop systems for storing, processing, and analyzing lots of different kinds of data.
12. Genetically Engineered Immune Cells Treat serious diseases
Cellectis, a biotechnology company with French roots, presently working from New York, captured worldwide attention last year due to its cancer treatment, using a gene-editing method called TALENs, a way of making cuts and fixes to DNA, in living cells. A baby girl with aggressive leukaemia has become the first in the world to be treated with this gene-editing method.
The one-year-old, Layla Richards, was out of T cells and out of options when her doctors called Cellectis. She had been given months to live after conventional treatments failed to eradicate the disease. Doctors though, ask caution:
“We have only used this treatment on one very strong little girl, and we have to be cautious about claiming this will be a suitable treatment option for all children,” said Waseem Qasi, professor of cell and gene therapy at University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Child Health, and a consultant immunologist at GOSH.
Other companies working in the field of gene-editing are startups Editas Medicine and Intellia Therapeutics, which are establishing partnerships with companies developing T-cell-based therapeutics. Their projects include transforming the genetic instructions inside the T cell itself, something that’s become much easier using gene-editing methods like TALENs and the even newer CRISPR.
Researchers are harvesting the fruits of decades of research (including the research of Nobel Prizes working with immunology) that worked out crucial details, including how T cells recognize invaders and go in for the kill.