• IT_Innovative Technologies

    No Limits—Pinpointing the Innovations That Will Shape Our Future

    When it comes new technologies, no idea is too far-fetched these days. Computer processing power is doubling every 2 years, as explained by Moore's Law. The result: new inventions-and massive improvements to old ones-are coming at us at full speed.

    Information technology (IT) professionals are now toeing the line between science and art. If an idea can be generated, the chances are good that it can be pulled off.

    We are moving toward a society in which the line between computers and humans is becoming blurred. Machines are getting smarter and more self-sufficient. As a result, we are seeing them become more integrated into our daily lives-including possibly being implanted inside us.

    "We live today not in the digital, not in the physical, but in the kind of minestrone that our mind makes of the two," said Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA, in a recent TED Talk.

    The best way to prepare for the big changes ahead? Learn as much as you can about what's coming our way. As Catarina Mota, founder of Everywhere Tech, said in a TED Talk, "Acquiring preemptive knowledge about emerging technologies is the best way to ensure that we have a say in the making of our future."

    Here are four areas in which major technological developments are in the works:

    1. Drones

    We hear a lot about the use of small, remotely controlled planes by the military, but they are being developed for use in everyday life, too. Drones are also being designed to fight fires and monitor crops. However, the laws are still evolving-a journalist in Connecticut was reprimanded for using drones to photograph the scene of an accident. Amazon has asked for federal permission to use drones in the home delivery of goods. And in June, the FAA approved limited use of drones for the San Diego Gas & Electric Company. The future of drone use in everyday life is in flux, but the potential for innovation is tremendous.

    2. Wearable and Implantable Technology

    Wearable technology has been a buzzword for a while, but we are now seeing its potential. Products such as FitBit and Withings Pulse O2 are transforming life on a personal level in managing health and fitness. With the healthcare industry at a crossroads-best practices for electronic medical records and insurance costs are being sorted out-the success of wearables will be key. There are a lot of believers in the technology-it has generated $50 billion in investments.

    Wearable technology is just the start. Scientists and IT professionals are also working on implantable technology that will be ingested or injected. It will work by moving through the bloodstream, monitoring health and even treating diseases. For example, nanobots-microscopic robots that travel through people's veins-could one day seek out cancer cells and then strike them with doses of medicine. This technology is already being tested on cockroaches.

    Eventually, we could see a future in which implantable devices inside a person gather data and send it to wearable devices on a person's body. The processed data would then be sent to a secure cloud platform that is monitored by healthcare providers.

    3. Digital Badges

    You've seen badges on apps like FourSquare-they are digital mementos that award and keep track of accomplishments such as how many times you've frequented a restaurant. Badges are also serving a more serious-and productive-purpose. Soon, digital badges may serve as your resume, detailing your professional accomplishments and interests. Doctors may use them as secure IDs to unlock passwords on electronic medical records. And they could replace keys to open doors. Badges are also poised to make a major impact on education, serving as key tools for credentialing and assessment. Not convinced? Heavyweights such as Bill Clinton and Arne Duncan have voiced their support of digital badge development.

    4. Artificial Intelligence

    We know that computers are getting smarter and faster, but here's where things are really changing in a big way: Computers are also becoming more human. That's right-Siri, Apple's built-in "intelligent assistant," and Viv, a new artificial intelligent agent from Viv Labs, is on the way. The effects of this progress are being felt in the business world as well. Customer service is being streamlined with intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), which are eliminating long hold times and taking care of issues efficiently. IVAs are getting better at understanding conversational language, so consumers won't have to guess keywords that it might understand. Soon IVAs will be able to solve customer issues by comparing complaints with solutions to past problems that are logged in their system-all in a span of a few seconds.



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