Much hype surrounds AI, virtual reality and blockchain technology, but there are other developing technologies deserving of attention too. Examples include civic tech, gene editing, personalized technology and advancements in energy.
Cities (and even some countries) are partnering with companies on municipal projects that make the business of government more efficient and make improvements on a large scale. This civic tech uses technology for improving public services. Large technology companies are reinvesting profits to address large systems, like education and cities. For example, Google's Sidewalk Labs is transforming 16 U.S. cities into "smart" cities, using technology to improve commutes and add clean energy. Other examples include installation of London sidewalks that generate energy from footsteps, hosting of hackathons and creation of apps that track transit in real time.
Not only are researchers developing more efficient forms of renewable energy, but they are also discovering entirely new sources of energy as well as new ways of storing energy. U.S. Army Research Laboratory researchers have demonstrated a new nanomaterial powder that creates large amounts of energy by mixing it with water. Other scientists are fine-tuning a variety of new batteries, which claim to recharge remotely without cables, charge in mere seconds or hold larger capacities for much longer before draining.
Emerging technologies personalize products for results customized to the individual, further integrating the physical and digital realms and allowing self-education and self-treatment. Several gadgets were unveiled in 2017, including L'Oreal's Hair Coach and a smart beauty mirror. The former is a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth-equipped hair brush designed to share data on hair-brushing habits that will help the user better care for their hair. The mirror completes a personalized skin analysis and recommends products and routines.
A tool called CRISPR allows scientists to exploit a quirk in bacteria's immune systems to edit genes in other organisms quickly and cheaply. Scientists can use CRISPR to control what genes get expressed in plants, animals and humans. This means they are able to remove undesirable traits and potentially add desirable traits from DNA, opening a realm of possibilities.