Just finished reading a fascinating end of year publication from the “Wired” stable about what to expect in 2013. Although this publication is sometimes annoying in style and somewhat fixated on start-ups, much of the editorial is top-notch. In this special issue, there are contributions from James Dyson and Richard Branson among other innovation luminaries.
Mr Dyson is somewhat disparaging about some of the innovations under the banner of green engineering. As he rightly points out, an invention that shaves a percentage point or two off the fuel consumption of a widely used aircraft dwarfs the effect of eliminating plastic carrier bags. He predicts that more information about the origin and impact of goods and services will become available in the year to come.
As I have previously written, I remain unimpressed with individual robots at the current level of technology. As James McLurkin (a renowned roboticist) points out – they are best at tasks which are dangerous, dirty or dull. When you get a large number of robots together though, they become a lot more interesting. The technology for “swarming robots” is already there and searching for an application and maybe 2013 is their year.
Optical networking (or li-fi) will come to the fore for short-range communication. Nanotechnology will reach the point of self replication. An unbelievable 200 million people will use the internet for the very first time and radar will become much more widespread. The technology will be used for everything from measuring blood pressure to providing images of internal organs without harmful radiation.
Innovation has typically radiated from richer economies outwards, but Ravi Ramamurti (a distinguished professor of international business) believes that we are reaching the point where innovations are starting to flow the other way. Poorer economies through necessity have much more of an idea of efficiency. Third world countries are teaching their richer counterparts (who by far have a greater need) how to perform low-cost medical procedures for example.
Education will become free, lab grown organs may become a reality and the world will start to recover from its economic malaise. Will we finally see the much vaunted Apple TV? – who knows, but they certainly need a big success. A huge amount of their net value comes from products invented in the last 5 years and many people are starting to lose faith due to the mishaps since Jobs left this mortal coil.
All in all – a fascinating publication and if only 10% of their predictions come true, it’s going to be an exciting year!
- Richard Branson’s Big Idea for 2013: End The War on Marijuana ! (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Introduction to Area Exploration Problem (coswarm.wordpress.com)
- Wired interviews James Dyson, the ‘Jobs and Wozniak of home appliances’ (theverge.com)
- Sir James Dyson: It’s Time to Nuture British Engineers (gizmodo.co.uk)
- Hope for Humans in the Race With Robots (businessweek.com)
- What Is Your Favorite Tech Innovation Of 2012? [We Ask You] (makeuseof.com)
- This Robot Is Going to Space to Keep Astronauts Company (mashable.com)