Accelerate - September 2014

Top 10 technological breakthroughs

open this image in new window: Top 10 tech breakthroughs

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) named the 10 technological milestones that they believe will change the way we interact and provide the solutions to future challenges.

MIT Technology Review released its top 10 breakthroughs for 2014. These are technology milestones they have identified that will impact the way we use technology and solve difficult problems in the future.

Below is a short descriptor of each milestone.

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1 Agricultural drones

Relatively cheap and easy-to-use drones with advanced sensors and imaging capabilities are set to change farming practices.

Why it matters: Closer monitoring of crops could improve water use and pest management and provide farmers with new ways of increasing yields and reducing crop damage.

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2 Ultra-private smartphones

New models built with security and privacy in mind reflect the Zeitgeist of the Snowden era.

Why it matters: It will be far more difficult for governments and advertisers to gather private details from cell phones.

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3 Brain mapping

A new map, a decade in the works, shows structures of the brain in far greater detail than ever before – as small as 20 micrometres.

Why it matters: This high-resolution map helps neuroscientists understand how the brain works and provides a guide to the brain’s immense complexity.

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4 Neuromorphic chips

Microprocessors configured more like brains than traditional chips could soon make computers far more aware of what’s going on around them.

Why it matters: Traditional chips are reaching fundamental performance limits and this alternative design for computer chips will enhance ­artificial intelligence.

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5 Genome editing

Through the use of a genome tool, two monkeys were created with intentional, specific mutations.

Why it matters: The ability to modify targeted genes in primates is a valuable tool in the study of human diseases.

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6 Microscale 3D printing

Inks made from different types of materials, precisely applied, are considerably expanding the kinds of things that can be printed, such as biological tissue with blood vessels.

Why it matters: Making biological materials with desired functions could lead to artificial organs and novel cyborg parts.

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7 Mobile collaboration

The smartphone era is finally getting the productivity software it needs.

Why it matters: With much of today’s office work done outside an office, these services allow the creation, collaboration and editing of documents on mobile devices.

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8 Oculus rift

Thirty years after virtual-reality goggles and immersive virtual worlds made their debut, the technology finally seems poised for widespread use.

Why it matters: The high-quality virtual reality hardware is cheap enough for the consumer market and these visually immersive interfaces will lead to new forms of entertainment and communications.

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9 Agile robots

Computer scientists have created machines that have the balance and agility to walk and run across rough and uneven terrain, making them far more useful in navigating human environments.

Why it matters: Much of the world is inaccessible to wheeled machines, but not perambulatory machines.

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10 Smart wind and solar power

Big data and artificial intelligence are producing ultra-accurate forecasts of wind and solar power.

Why it matters: Dealing with intermittency of renewable energy will be crucial for its expansion and this breakthrough will make it feasible to integrate much more renewable energy into the grid.


Updated: 4 September 2015