The rapidly changing technological world keeps moving at such a dazzling speed, that it is hard sometimes to keep track with its breakthroughs and advances. One of the most cherished topics of IntelligentHQ is Disruptive Technologies. These are, as defined by Clayton M. Christensen, new emerging technologies that unexpectedly displace established ones.
Christensen used this term for the first time in his 1997 best-selling book entitled “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. In it the author established two categories of new technologies: sustaining and disruptive. Sustaining technologies corresponds to well-known technologies that undergo successive improvements, whereas Disruptive technologies means new technologies that still lack refinement, often have performance problems, are just known to a limited public, and might not yet have a proven practical application.But when they find their breakthrough, they bring tremendous change and transformation to the world.
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? Intelligenthq assembled here a list of companies working with disruptive technologies, inspired by a similar one, published by MIT Technology Review and other sources:
1. The Upcoming Days of The Wildly Fast Quantum Computers
Quantum computers aren’t yet out there, but the field is advancing rapidly.
A quantum computer is a computer design which uses the principles of quantum physics to increase the computational power beyond what is attainable by a traditional computer. Computers that operate on the principles of quantum mechanics could massively speed up the discovery of solutions to certain problems.
As of 2016, the development of actual quantum computers is still in its infancy, but experiments have been carried out in which quantum computational operations were executed on a very small number of quantum bits. Quantum computers have been built on the small scale and work continues trying to upgrade them to more practical models.
Someone working with quantum computing is John Martinis, an engineer hired by Google in 2014, to work for Google’s quantum computing lab. Martinis has been researching how quantum computers could work for 30 years. Now he could be on the verge of finally making a useful one. The former physicist, that used to work for University of California, Santa Barbara, convinced Google that his team’s technology could mature rapidly with the right support. With his new Google lab up and running, Martinis guesses that he can demonstrate a small but useful quantum computer in two or three years. Quantum computing risks, possibilities and breakthroughs promise to be impressive.
2. Stronger and Better Food With Precise Gene Editing Methods ?
Precise Gene Editing Plants is a novel way to gene-edit that promises to bring great benefits to the food industry. This technology, known as CRISPR. enables crops to resist drought and disease more effectively. Plus, since the plants treated with this method, show no traces of foreign DNA, they are not classified as genetically modified organisms. This is great news, since GMOS are looked at with suspicion and fear from the general public The remarkable breakthrough of this technologies is their ability to cheaply and precisely edit plant genomes without leaving foreign DNA behind.
The world population is increasing substantially, as we all know. As such precise gene editing plants can lead to growth in agricultural productivity
Key Players in Engineering Crops are The Sainsbury Laboratory (that is applying the technology to potatoes, tomatoes, and other crops to fight fungal diseases) and John Innes Centre, Norwich, U.K, Seoul National University, University of Minnesota and the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Beijing.
Even though the technology is promising it bring us challenges in terms of regulation.
3. Autopilot and Driveless cars
Two years have gone by since Elon Musk’s electric-car company began selling its customers, for around $4,250, a “technology package” that used the sensors, as well as a camera, a front radar, and avoiding crashes and collisions, as the technology would allow the car to take over and stop before crashing. For almost one year, this technology package was able to assembled loads of data. By the end of 2014, Tesla sent his customers, a software update (entitled Tesla 7.0) to be used by the more than 50,000 sensor-laden cars that were using it.
That updated software was so effective, that it gained the nickname of Autopilot. Autopilot brings tremendous promises, particularly in terms of avoidance of car crashes.
Drivers using it have in their hands a powerful software that resembles the one used by airline pilots. The car can manage its speed, steer within and even change lanes, and park itself. Due to its emergent and still yet to test potential, Autopilot, does hold a degree of risk, that just time can access.
4. An Ubiquitous Powerless Internet
Even though we have seen amazing advances since the inception of broadband Internet, as the world speeds fast, we want more power, and speed in our internet devices. There are good news for those thirsty for ubiquitous access to a quick and cheap internet. A recent technology which is on the verge of being commercialised, lets gadgets work and communicate using only energy harvested from nearby TV, radio, cell-phone, or Wi-Fi signals. By freeing Internet-connected devices from the constraints of batteries and power cords will open up many new uses. The University of Washington researchers who developed the technique have demonstrated Internet-connected temperature and motion sensors, and even a camera, powered that way.
Some of the researchers working with this technology is Shyamnath Gollakota and his colleague Joshua Smith. They have proved that weak radio signals can indeed provide all an Internet gadget needs, using a principle called backscattering. Instead of generating original signals, one of their devices selectively reflects incoming radio waves to construct a new signal. A gadget using the technique absorbs some energy from the signal it is modifying to power its own circuits.
Some of the groups investigating the harvest of radio waves are University of Washington, Texas Instruments, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Another technology that is starting to be commercialized is dubbed passive Wi-Fi, is being commercialized through a spin-off company, Jeeva Wireless. Its gadgets, which are battery-free connect with devices such as computers and smartphones by backscattering Wi-Fi signals. In order to be able to use passive Wi-Fi requests that one transforms the software of a Wi-Fi access point, so it originates an extra signal for passive Wi-Fi devices to use.
5. LiFi: A Faster than light Internet
Finally, Lifi also promises a stronger and faster internet. Lifi is a term that means the use of the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, to transmit information at very high speeds, and to enable high-speed wireless data communication and internet access.
A company working with Lifi, is pureLiFi, a Scottish company co-founded by Prof. Haas, the ‘father of LiFi’, who is a recognised leader in the field.
PureLiFi provides ubiquitous high-speed wireless access that offers substantially greater security, safety and data densities than Wi-Fi along with inherent properties that eliminate unwanted external network intrusion. In addition, the integration of illumination and data services generates a measurable reduction in both infrastructure complexity and energy consumption.
6. New Communication Possibilities for The Mobile Era: Slack
A service built for the era of mobile phones and short text messages is changing the workplace. Slack is a a cloud-based team collaboration tool that was launched in August 2013.
The reason for its success lies in its adaptation to the way people work nowadays: using mobile devices, and working and collaborating from all corners of the world. Slack’s specific design choices also played an important role in its success. According to Gerald C. Kane, associate professor of information systems at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, Slack funnels messages into streams that everyone who works together can see. That “allows you to ‘overhear’ what is going on in an organization, which research has shown can lead to business impact,” he says. “It’s a kind of ambient awareness that you just don’t get from e-mail.”
The lure of Slack can be explained in a sentence. It promises to make work teams more productive by eliminating meetings and e-mail. The platform integrates an easy-to-use chat system with tools for committing code, making payments, monitoring backups.
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.