CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — April 27, 2012 — The editors of MIT’s Technology Review have announced their annual list of the 10 emerging technologies with the greatest potential to transform our world. These innovations promise fundamental shifts in areas including energy, health care, computing, and communications. The ultimate criterion is straightforward: is the technology likely to change the world?
The changes that result from the technologies will take many different forms. For example, the TR10 features a new way to make solar cells that will boost renewable energy, plus a DNA sequencing technique that’s cheap enough and fast enough to make analyzing a patient’s genome a routine part of health care.
- Egg stem cells. Jonathan Tilly and Boston-based OvaScience have discovered a technique that could increase older women’s chances of having babies by tapping the rejuvenating potential of stem cells in their own ovaries.
- Ultra-efficient solar. Semprius, a startup based in Durham, North Carolina, has invented solar cells that could produce power more cheaply than fossil fuels by using tiny amounts of an efficient but expensive material called gallium arsenide.
- Light-field photography. In the biggest innovation in consumer cameras since the advent of digital photography, Lytro, of Mountain View, California, has developed one that allows photographers to focus a picture after it is taken.
- Solar microgrids. Four hundred million people in India don’t have access to electrical grids, typically relying on kerosene lamps to light their homes. Mera Gao Power of Reusa, India, has developed a low-cost village-scale solar-powered grid that can power lights and charge cell phones.
- 3-D transistors. Intel, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, has redesigned the transistor so it uses less space and electricity and can operate even faster, which will lead to smaller, more powerful, and more energy-efficient mobile devices.
- A faster Fourier transform. A team of researchers at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has created an upgraded version of a critical algorithm that underpins everything from how cell phones communicate to how digital music files are compressed. The result will be faster multimedia downloads and better ways to analyze and manage Internet traffic.
- Nanopore Sequencing. Oxford Nanopore, based in Oxford, U.K., squeezes DNA through microscopic pores in a membrane in order to quickly read a genetic sequence without expensive reagents. Oxford Nanopore’s machines could become part of a clinic’s standard collection of diagnostic tools, bringing in a new age of personalized medicine.
- Crowdfunding. New York City startup Kickstarter is changing the rules on how technologies can be commercialized. Its website lets members of the general public chip in to support projects they’d like to see come to fruition: a home wireless sensor system raised over $500,000, and a simplified 3-D printer garnered over $800,000.
- High-speed materials discovery. By inventing a way to combine and test thousands of substances so as to mimic how batteries are actually manufactured and used, San Diego–based Wildcat Discovery Technologies can rapidly zero in on materials that could dramatically improve the reliability of batteries and the amount of energy they can store.
- Facebook’s Timeline. The world’s biggest social network has created a way to persuade its 800 million monthly active users to give more meaning to the vast amounts of data the Menlo Park, California, company has about them. The result is a better experience for users—and better targeting for the advertisers who pay for the network.
The 2012 TR10 is featured in the May/June issue of Technology Review and is posted on the Web at http://www.technologyreview.com/TR10.
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