PERREAULT Magazine January 2014 - Page 24

4Wearable Technologies.

One of the fields to benefit from flexible electronics will be wearable technology. Currently, Google Glass and devices such as FitBit, Jawbone and Nike’s Fuel Band best represent this trend but next-generation materials and sensors may take things to a deeper and more personal level. Soon, people will be using wearable technology to pay for items with a swipe of the wrist (as is already happening at Disneyland) or turning off lights by sensing when a person leaves a room. It is likely wearable technology will soon become so small and unobtrusive that it will be incorporated into our clothing and, eventually, inside the human body where it could diagnose cancer,

heart attacks and scores of other diseases before

they ever occur.

5Thought-Controlled Computing. Not content with incorporating technology inside the human body, innovative researchers have already successfully implanted a brain-neural chip inside the brains of stroke-victims and paraplegics. The technology allows the users, by thought alone, to control a robotic prosthetic device attached to their bodies. On a more practical level, a similar technology has already allowed a man who lost use of both legs in a motorcycle accident to walk up all 104 floors of the Willis Tower in Chicago. In the not-to-distant future, thousands of injured soldiers could also benefit from the technology, as might millions of Baby Boomers who could use the technology to offset the affects of aging and thus remain independent for years longer than is

currently possible.

6Regenerative Medicine:

Before hordes of seniors need to rely on brain-neural prosthetics, they will first be able to retain the use of their own bodies for prolonged periods due to the extraordinary advances taking place in the field of regenerative medicine.

Researchers and scientists, using three-dimensional printers, biomaterials and cells, have already created kidneys and, more recently, an innovative stem cell therapy procedure was performed to repair a damaged human heart. Longer term, the ability to grow a new heart or lung is possible. This would not only change the game for the millions of people presently waiting for organ donations, it may also disrupt the multi-billion dollar global medical device industry as the need for stents, pace-makers and other implantable treatment devices is rendered obsolete.

7The Internet of Things.

By the end of decade, Cisco estimates 50 billion physical devices will be connected to the Internet. Others speculate the figure could be substantially higher. The game-changing potential of the Internet of Things (also sometimes referred to as the “Industrial Internet”) has been calculated by General Electric to be a $15-$30 trillion business opportunity in the coming decade because of sensors’ ability to connect billions of everyday objects in a manner that enables the user to achieve new levels of safety, comfort, convenience and efficiency. Imagine a sensor connected to your automobile that informs a local government agency of the precise amount of carbon dioxide a car is emitting into the atmosphere and then the individual is taxed for his or her individual contribution to climate change and one can begin to get a glimpse—both positive and negative—of the Internet of Things’ potential to alter human behavior.

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Perreault Magazine / January, 2014 24