Ten emerging technologies as the ones most likely to impact the world in the next three to five years were singled out by an international steering group of experts convened by the World Economic Forum and Scientific American. From virtual patients to pain-free needles, synthesizing whole-genomes, and digital medicine, which are transforming our post-COVID-19 lives.
As we now move to clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine, virtual patients, instead of living humans, could help identify successful vaccine candidates, reduce costs, and speed up research. It would also prevent the testing of imperfect vaccine candidates on living volunteers.
While the outbreak unfolded, dozens of medical apps and bots were developed, expanding the digital medicine landscape. These apps could detect depression and provided counseling. Bots answered over 200 million inquiries about COVID symptoms and treatments. COVID-19 will continue to shape our lives, and these emerging technologies could fill the gaps created by the pandemic.
Virtual Patients instead of living humans could make vaccine trials quicker and inexpensive. This technology would significantly reduce the number of human subjects needed for experimentation.
Microneedles for Painless Injections and Tests promise pain-free injections and blood testing. Microneedles do not touch nerve endings. Since the process does not need costly equipment or a lot of training, it can be used in areas that do not normally receive cutting-edge medical technologies.
Whole-Genome Synthesis will transform cell engineering. The ability to write our genome will inevitably help doctors to cure genetic diseases.
Digital Medicine is a collection of apps that detect and monitor the mental and physical health of patients. These apps and bots can enhance traditional medicine and provide support to patients with limited access to healthcare.
Electric Aviation technology reduces fuel costs by up to 90%, maintenance by up to 50%, and noise by nearly 70%. Electric propulsion motors would eliminate direct carbon emissions. Currently, about 170 electric airplane projects are underway.
Lower-Carbon Cement researches are going on by changing the recipe, using different materials, and using carbon capture and storage technologies. Concrete, the most widely used human-made material, shapes much of our built world. If cement production were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after China and the US.
The sun-Powered Chemistry approach uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide waste into needed chemicals manufactured from fossil fuel. It could reduce emissions in two ways by using unwanted gas as raw material and using sunlight as the source of energy instead of fossil fuels.
Green Hydrogen Instead of current methods of producing hydrogen which is not environmentally efficient, produced through electrolysis, has no by-product, unlike current processes and it could transform industries that require high-energy fuel.
Spatial Computing will bring together raise reality apps and sensors to facilitate human-machine and machine-machine interactions to a new level. It combines these capabilities and controls objects’ movements and interactions, allowing a person to navigate the digital and physical world.
Quantum Sensing enables autonomous vehicles that can “see” around corners, underwater navigation systems, early-warning systems for volcanic activity and earthquakes, and portable scanners that monitor a person’s brain activity during daily life.
The list also includes new technologies that can help combat climate change by tackling major polluting industries. These new green technologies include innovative planes, new concrete formulations, and using sunlight to power refineries.