NASA And Lockheed Excited At New X-Plane Development For Quiet SSTs

NASA recently awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. a contract to build a quiet supersonic jet. The $247 million contract is an addition to the aerospace company’s preliminary agency contract which was awarded in 2016. The bold idea behind the new jet is to make it a platform for a supersonic airliner which will have a “quiet” sonic boom, unlike the Concorde.

The NASA Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) project will build upon prior developments at Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works facility, the project aims to have the first test flight by the end of 2021. The plane’s specifications include travelling at Mach 1.5 (approximately 990 mph) at the cruising height of 55,000 feet. This would allow flights to cross the Atlantic in roughly three hours. Current subsonic airline flights take eight hours from New York to Paris.

Aiming for the Sound of Thunder

A key element of the design for the aircraft is for the sonic boom to be within acceptable limits of only half the sound at that speed. In a written statement from NASA, the resulting sonic boom would be “so quiet it hardly will be noticed by the public, if at all.” It has been likened to the sound of “distant thunder” or “the sound of your neighbor forcefully shutting his door outside while you are inside.”

The loud noise of the sonic boom was the cause for contention regarding the Concorde flying supersonic over the continental United States. The resulting regulation was one of the reasons Boeing was forced to cancel their development of the Boeing 2707. It was supposed to be the first American SST. It had already won a government-funded project to build the SST at its Seattle, Washington facility. The 2707 was designed to have seating for 250 to 300 passengers and cruise at speeds close to Mach 3. This would have been a larger and faster SST compared to the Concorde.

In September, 2017, NASA unveiled the basic design of the QueSST. According to the launch, NASA and Lockheed have already invested £290 million or more than $415 million in research for the plane. They have been testing the mockups in wind tunnels.

Working on the “Boom”

As a plane approaches the speed of sound or Mach 1, the air in front of the plane compresses. The compression stays in front of the plane while it is flying at less than Mach 1. When the plane reaches Mach 1, the compression waves are no longer able to travel faster than the plane, and they accumulate and pile up, producing a booming sound like an explosion. The sonic boom created by supersonic flight is a double boom, with the first explosion occurring as the compression waves pile up on the leading edge of the wing, and the second wave occurs at the tail, when the pressure goes back to normal. The sonic boom is continuous while the plane is in supersonic flight. The sound of the rolling boom across the ground underneath the plane’s path is called the “boom carpet.”

The sonic boom is a result of a plane flying faster than the speed of sound. It can be as loud as 200 decibels, and rattle windows and homes miles away. The sonic boom is within the range of 0.1 to 100 hertz, the lower range of human hearing. The sound is below the range of conventional aircraft and most industrial noise. The duration also characteristically brief, being less than a second. It can be as long as a 100 milliseconds or 0.1 second for fighter planes, and around 500 milliseconds or half a second in length for the Concorde, the space shuttle or any large supersonic vehicle.

The boom is a cone of sound with the aircraft at its leading point. The higher the plane flies, the wider the boom is on the ground. However, with greater altitude, there is less overpressure on the ground. Due to the nature of sound and compression waves, there are various factors which affect how it is heard or the perception of the boom, how loud and where it is heard. The carpet boom follows the flight path of the plane on the ground. This weakens farther away from the flight path. The boom exposure area is estimated to be about 1 mile wide, for each 1,000 feet altitude of flight. Flying supersonic at 30,000 feet, the carpet boom would be 30 miles wide on the ground. The plane’s behavior also affects the boom. Diving and accelerating can focus the boom, whereas deceleration and climbing can reduce the effects of the shockwave. Weather conditions and disturbances can also distort booms.

Supersonic Transports in History

There have only been two supersonic transports. The most successful was the Concorde which was jointly developed by France and the United Kingdom. It had an average cruising speed of Mach 2.02 or about 1,334 mph, with a service ceiling of 60,000 feet. It was first flown in 1969 and entered commercial service in 1976. It had a capacity of 98 to 128 passengers and flew from New York to Paris in less than 3.5 hours. It was in service until 2003. The restrictions on supersonic flight are for commercial SSTs over land, specifically over populated areas. The Concorde was only allowed to fly at supersonic speeds over the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The only other SST to fly commercial routes was the Russian TU-144. It had a shorter commercial life flying passengers. It flew freight and passengers on the Moscow to Alma-Ata and Moscow to Khabarovsk routes. Its first regular passenger service was in November 1977, and the last was in June 1979. The TU-144 development program was cancelled in 1983. Unlike the Concorde, the supersonic overland route was allowed because the Soviet Union did not have any regulations pertaining to the sonic boom.

The QueSST is the latest incarnation in the development of a low noise supersonic transport. There have been various research including DARPA’s Quiet Supersonic Platform. The government agency also funded the Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration (SSBD) aircraft. Using a modified F-5 Freedom Fighter aircraft, the SSBD concept was tested in 21 flights over a two-year period. This extensive study of the sonic boom included 1,300 recordings of the shock wave and sonic boom. The SSBD was able to reduce the sonic boom volume by about one-third. If the developments on the SSBD were used on the Concorde, it would have been capable of supersonic flight at acceptable noise levels.

One interesting outcome of the various research into finding a low-noise sonic boom is the development of theoretical designs that seem to have no sonic booms at all. However, even without it, there would still be a shockwave if the aircraft were to generate aerodynamic lift. Earlier studies involving the North American B-70 Valkyrie showed that the sonic boom was still a problem even if it flew at a much higher altitude of 70,000 feet.

The contract between NASA and Lockheed aims to have a working prototype of the QueSST. It would be a single-pilot plane ready for flight by 2021. Testing the aircraft would help determine a design which could be used for commercial aircraft of the future.

While Lockheed is developing supersonic noise abatement designs for aircraft, NASA will also look into the human and legal side of the equation. The noise regulations which limited the overland flight of SST was the result of public clamor during the late 1960s. The regulations were based on the understanding of science at the time. NASA will be conducting tests around urban areas to determine if the stipulated regulations regarding noise levels could be amended.

There is excitement in the development of the plane. According to a Lockheed Martin spokesman, the QueSST is “NASA’s first X-plane in a generation.” Lockheed and NASA are not the only ones developing new generation SSTs. Japan Airlines and Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines are backing Boom Supersonic in the development of SST for transoceanic flights.

In a separate project, Lockheed is working with Aerion Corp. to develop the AS2 business jet class SST with a planned first flight in 2023.

Supersonic flights could very well be in people’s travel options soon.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/transportation/nasa-lockheed-excited-new-x-plane-development-quiet-ssts/

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Algae-Forestry—Sustainable Energy, Climate Change, World Hunger And More

One might think that reducing carbon emissions, solving world hunger, green-energy, and space travel are all completely separate topics of interest. However, all of these problems may be addressed by a very unassuming organism—algae. Scientists from different universities are currently conducting research regarding an unconventional use of algae combined with other substances.

Combat Climate Change

Scientists from Duke University, Cornell University, and the University of Hawaii have banded together to see whether an unlikely mixture of algae can help create negative emissions in order to stop climate change. The bold idea of using algae to absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide started with Ian Archibald of Cinglas Ltd. They called this new system Algae Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (ABECCS). It acts as a huge carbon dioxide sink to reduce the current levels of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Algae convert the carbon dioxide in the air into carbon-rich lipids, which is not very far from bio-diesel.

“Algae may be the key to unlocking an important negative-emissions technology to combat climate change,” Charles Greene, Cornell professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences said.

The scientist explained that when algae is combined with eucalyptus, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage as well as microalgae production could produce a unique scientific synergy that could both reduce greenhouse gases and help solve world hunger.

Absorbing carbon is simply one part of the system. One of the main functions of the ABECCS facility is to generate safe and sustainable energy. Most of the world’s energy comes from the burning of carbon-based fuel sources such as fossil fuel. As the algae in the system are used to absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide, it can also be used as a fuel replacement for power plants.

In fact, according Greene, when the price of carbon increases in the future, the system can be used as a means to reduce carbon dioxide and use it for an environmentally sustainable energy source.

Food Source

Aside from being used as a potential fuel source, the ABECCS facilities can also be used to generate food as algae are a good source of protein. For a small land foot print, it can generate the same amount of protein as soybeans. However, algae is able to do this while generating energy and reducing tons of carbon dioxide from the air at the same time.

According to Robert Henrikson, CEO of Smart Microfarms, microalgae are 20 times more productive than traditional crops. They don’t require too much water and can be grown nearly anywhere so they won’t compete for agricultural land.

Since algae is a very efficient food source, it is also being tested for space travel. Scientists are trying to see whether algae can be grown on Mars as an alternative food source. German scientists have been trying to prove this since 2014 and have discovered that two types of algae can survive up to16 months in space.

Furthermore, because algae is an efficient energy source, they can also be used as bio-fuel to power space shuttles and space stations in the future. This oft-ignored organism may actually hold the key to improving technology and various life processes in the future.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/energy/algae-forestry-sustainable-energy-climate-change-world-hunger/

Ola Acquires Ticketing App Ridlr For Possible End-To-End Transportation Service

Indian ride-sharing company Ola pushed through with the acquisition of public transport-focused app Ridlr in early April. The acquisition was an all-stock transaction where Ridlr becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of ANI Technologies, Ola’s parent company.

The transaction will allow Ola to transform into an end-to-end travel app. It already engages in ride-sharing services with several options, including bike-sharing, food delivery services and a mobile wallet. With the Ridlr acquisition, it can provide other services including public transport ticketing. This will allow Ola the flexibility to offer a seamless multi-leg or multi-transport service where a passenger can ride a taxi from his home to the bus station, and from there going to a train station.

Ola is on a Roll

Ridlr as a ticketing service for public transport is not in direct competition with Ola, however, its ticketing services are instrumental for Ola’s possible expansion. Ridlr is also able to track traffic along the route with an estimated travel time. The acquisition was said to be worth $50 million in stock.

The transaction is the seventh acquisition for Ola which had previously bought Foodpanda India. Operating in more than 110 cities, Ola has more than 125 million registered users in India and more than a million driver partners.

With Softbank as one of its major investors, Ola has already set in motion expanding beyond India. It has started operations in two cities in Australia. Meanwhile in India, it is still considered only second to Uber in terms of number of users and revenue.

Uber recently retreated from the Southeast Asian market selling its stake to rival Grab. Uber had also previously pulled out of Denmark due to the local taxi laws.

In the US, the competition is heating up. Lyft has started offering riders more choices besides their Lyft classic service and Lyft Plus. In Atlanta, they have augmented their offerings with Lyft Line car pooling service, as well as the Premier, Lux and Lux SUV for high-end luxury cars rides. In addition, Lyft has begun a subscription based ride-hailing service which could prove more cost-efficient for regular passengers.

Providing a comparison app is Whipster which draws prices from ridesharing utilities as well as taxis and public transport. The user can also use the app to call for the vehicle via their ridesharing app. This provides users the convenience of choosing between different transportation options, with the current price quotes.

On another front, Alphabet’s Waymo has started paid services for its autonomous vehicle ride sharing in Phoenix, Arizona. Waymo has been testing its service for several months and has been given the approval from the Arizona Transportation Department. It is the first driverless ride-hailing company in operation. Compared to Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing apps, Waymo’s vehicles will be able to charge less because it has no drivers.

Uber and Lyft have also been testing their driverless vehicles, but these companies have not given any date as to when they would start offering this option to their passengers. Waymo has 600 Fiat-Chrysler Pacifica minivans and plans to buy more when they fully roll out the service when they expand their service to other cities.

These companies continue to make bold moves which are rapidly disrupting the transportation industry as we know it.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/transportation/ola-acquires-ticketing-app-ridlr-possible-end-end-transportation-service/

Scientists Make Advancements In “Mind Reading” Technology

Would you allow a machine to read your mind?

Researchers from the University of California have developed a machine that is said to be capable of reading minds. The device works by interpreting consonants and vowels in the human brain and displaying it as text.

David Moses, who leads the team of researchers, says the machine is 90% accurate. The team hopes that their technology will be able to help paralyzed patients, as well as those who suffered various conditions where they are unable to move or speak.

Artificial Intelligence and Neural Signals

The research was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering. The machines works by reading electrodes which have been implanted in the brain. The system is connected to a computer which translates the electrical signals which are later interpreted and appear as words in the computer screen.

Moses was quoted in an interview with the Sun: “The machine registers and analyses the combination of vowels and consonants that we use when constructing a sentence in our brains. It interprets these sentences based on neural signals and can translate them into text in real time.”

Apart from predictive text, the machine also uses highly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) allows it to interpret words that are not in its database.

“No published work has demonstrated real-time classification of sentences from neural signals. Given the performance exhibited by [the machine] in this work and its capacity for expansion, we are confident in its ability to serve as a platform for the proposed speech prosthetic device,” Moses said in the same article.

Stephen Hawking’s Awesome Machine

The closest working example to a “mind reading machine” was the system used by the late physicist Stephen Hawking to communicate. Although it did not really read his mind, it relied on predictive text and the slightest cheek movements to come up with a series of words.

Prof. Hawking, considered as one of the most brilliant minds of this century, was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, more popularly known in the US as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

His speech system was developed by Intel and the company had released it as an open-source code in the hope that it can be modified and expanded to assist patients with other disabilities.

Hawking’s machine is composed of three parts. There’s the input from an infrared sensor or webcam that reads and detects the slightest facial movements. The developers initially tried to use eye movements but it didn’t work since Hawking’s eyes were already droopy. Then there’s the interface that chooses and predicts letters to form words, and finally, the auto-complete software that predicts what he is typing.

The professor then uses a separate synthesizer to lend a voice to his words. This was how he was able to give interviews, lectures, and even talks during conventions and gatherings.

The new machine developed at the University of California appears to be more advanced since it directly taps into brain electrodes. It could also be enhanced further and hooked to a synthesizer to add a voice to the words read from the patient’s brain.

While the bold idea is seen as a breakthrough in the medical field where it could have a myriad of applications, the downside is that the “mind reading” machine could unwittingly give people’s secrets away.

Let’s hope privacy issues don’t get in the way of bold innovations.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/communications/scientists-make-advancements-mind-reading-technology/

Could This Region Be The Next Silicon Valley?

Over 3,500 participants, 50 speakers, and 257 exhibitors attended the recently concluded Synapse Innovation Summit at the Amalie Arena in Downtown Tampa on March 28 and 29. The event successfully brought together innovators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and influencers to reinvigorate and connect Tampa Bay’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The area is being primed to become a central hub for innovation and technology over the next 20 years. The ultimate goal is to make Tampa Bay America’s new Silicon Valley; a place where startups go because of a well-developed virtual support system for businesses big and small.

The 2018 Summit included 15 hours of programs and 55 breakout sessions where participants eagerly interacted with speakers and industry thought leaders. Attendees also connected with fellow entrepreneurs to share experiences and find out how they can come together to help the cause.

Laying the Groundwork for the City of the Future

Synapse is led by a number of respected entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial service providers, and investors from Tampa Bay. Synapse wants to connect what they refer to as eight personas: investors, entrepreneurs, talents, educational institutions, innovation enablers, entrepreneur support organizations, corporations and the government. Through Synapse’s online platform, these key personas can log in and identify attributes or elements regarding their skills and experiences, as well as what their goals are and how they want to make them a reality.

The bold idea offers startups and entrepreneurs the ability to find the people and companies, mentors and talent, all within one integrated circle.

Tampa Bay is on its way to becoming the city of the future. It is poised for a massive uplift thanks to a $3 billion project spearheaded by Bill Gates and local businessman Jeff Vinik,, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In a recent interview with Bold Business, Vinik stressed that the challenge is to bridge the gap and bring innovation to a higher level.

“The Tampa Bay region is going to be the fastest growing area of the country in the next 20 years,” he said, adding that Tampa can lead Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in five to 10 years.

Arnie Bellini, CEO of Tampa-based Connectwise said Synapse “would become a tipping point for connecting all that needs to be connected here in Tampa Bay and hopefully Florida to create the next Silicon Valley”.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn believes that bringing together all the components will create a magical mix that will drive Tampa’s economy.

“This is our future. Synapse represents for me what Tampa’s next chapter looks like,” Buckhorn said.

Developments and Innovations

Tampa Bay already has plenty of these two ingredients: entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of community. The enthusiasm and eagerness of the business community is matched by the willingness of established businesses to share knowledge and create infrastructure that will help startups grow.

For Tampa, transportation is a key player and companies along with the government are working hard on a solution.

Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies, talked about the promising future of transportation in the area. The multi-million dollar company is turning the idea of traveling in tubes at the speed of sound a reality. The technology is powered by magnets and sunlight, and will radically change how people travel over the next few years.

“We’re in 2018. We have a lot of technology. We are innovating daily. I feel that entrepreneurship can bring a lot of these solutions,” Ahlborn said.

Synapse spokesman Cesar Hernandez added that there have been exploratory talks on having a Hyperloop system built in Tampa, but they would need to look at the feasibility of such a massive project.

Stronger Networks, Closer Ties

Having concluded its second year, Synapse is drumming even more support from the business community.

Sara Margulis, CEO and Co-Founder of Honeyfund said the event was “an amazing opportunity to network and hear about all of the efforts and all of the different organizations and groups that are contributing to a really burgeoning technology scene here”.

The event brought together people from various backgrounds to create a living, breathing ecosystem for business in Tampa and ultimately all of Florida.

“I’m really excited to see this much effort and this many people in one place all focused on entrepreneurship and technology,” said Kasra Moshkani, General Manager Southeast US for Uber Technologies.

The annual Synapse Innovation Summit is kicking off its bold advocacy of empowering Tampa’s innovation ecosystem and ensuring the future of its business community, that will continue on a daily basis going forward.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/infrastructure/synapse-innovation-summit-2018/

Social Implications Of Disruptive Technologies

New technologies continue to evolve in different sectors, but not all of them are able to impact the way people live. Some of them are not capable of influencing people’s decisions or encourage them to change their priorities.

There are new technologies though that are bound to disrupt the economy and society.

Disrupting Economies and Society

The economic repercussions of disruptive technology are widely known. New markets that opened job opportunities to a lot of people have been created. New suppliers for the novel industries have been tapped, widening the economic benefits to a broader base of the population. However, after industries, and the economy in general, benefit from these new technologies, the consequences of the disruption are barely addressed.

Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X Prize foundation said, “The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.”

Disruptive technology is about to change in a revolutionary manner. It is like finding a path around a problem and streamlining it to squeeze the most benefits out of it. A disruptive technology would find a way to create a ladder for a shorter path. Sometimes the solution to a problem is not always linear.

Disruptive technologies can be optimized to benefit both the business world and society. Business and technology leaders can build new markets for technologies and products. It will be a unique opportunity also for business leaders to leave a legacy for their industry and the world. Business and technology leaders should formulate a clear layout of the social impact of the new technologies that they will introduce.

Today’s disruptive technologies are looking towards multiple levels of returns. There is the impact on environment, as well as the future consequences of the technology. Today’s biggest tech projects are aimed at a population of 9.7 billion people by 2050. These include answering questions like “how to feed 9.7 billion people”, “what technologies to use in creating housing for 2050”, “how to harness renewable energy for isolated rural communities” etc.

New Technologies, New Opportunities

As businesses evolve and capitalize on new technologies, there should be a recognition of the enhanced roles they play in using disruptive technologies. They should design models that will drive transformative change and positive social impact for their new products. Businesses that are able to innovate and create methods that incorporate the social impact missions into their strategies will likely get the recognition and acknowledgement that will ensure their growth and longevity of operations.

There is a conscious mindset change in businesses. Disruptive technologies may or may not have created the change, but these technologies are usually associated with the change in mindset. New technologies address existing conditions as well as underserved consumers, new or future issues and include long-term plans of up to 20 years or longer. In including underserved communities or customer segments, the feedback can be a resource in themselves. This has led to the popularity of crowdsourcing, making the consumer part of the funding and prototyping process. People as a resource are used in hackathons, building use cases, high-level designs. Their involvement in programs helps include needed input for a wider audience, and a bigger potential market.

Considering the Social Impact

Many businesses today are guided by social impact as the strategic driver of their values. They are not adopting a social impact mindset that differentiates products and markets from the mainstream and expect to attract new talents and eliminate contentious regulatory relationships. What used to be mere public relations ploy has now been incorporated as part of corporate strategy to create values.

Most business organizations today make very little investment in social impact programs, volunteer work and charitable donations. Only a small percentage of them may be considered as having made driving changes to include social impact to their strategies and goals.

There’s a lot companies can do to include social impact to their programs. The food industry could use biotechnology to make their products affordable and beneficial to the health profile of the users. Finance companies should find ways to democratize banking and micro-transactions. The entertainment business should partner with the educational sector to advance augmented and virtual reality in order to revolutionize education and learning. The manufacturing industry could utilize 3D printing to provide the basic necessities and affordable housing for the world’s poor. The healthcare industry should utilize digital medicine tools and tech to democratize and reinvent new ways diseases can be prevented, diagnosed and treated.

Innovation to support the poor and aspirational segments of the market will be a nice place to start. Disruption begins on the fringes of the market, involving little-known players who have no leverage against giant mainstream brands. Business strategies should be supportive of this market segment that is capable of creating products that are more sustainable and affordable. This market sector must be supported in their desire to create cheap products that will benefit those at the margin of the society.

There should also be innovation in the business ecosystem. Whereas businesses for profit look at the nonprofits and the NGOs as competitors, they should now work in a cooperative effort to find opportunities to complement one another in solving the social problems that hinder their growth.

Planning and Developing New Business Models

Disruptive technologies should go hand-in-hand with changes in the mindset of business leaders. They should address the needs of the underserved members of society, help in the social challenges of their suppliers and impose a limit on the infrastructure required for a sustained commitment to serve their market. This will also involve changes in planning, product development process and in business models.

Players in the emerging technologies should not forget the ethical considerations and consequences of their products. Those working in the robotics, field of artificial intelligence, 3D printing and others should be clearly aware of the possible impacts on security, safety, privacy, and regulatory concerns, as well as the potential ethical and social impacts of their creations. They should work to mitigate the impacts of their work.

The aim of disruptive technologies is to create a world of abundance, with the impact of the new technologies evenly shared and distributed. But it will not happen. As the world today is clearly divided between the rich and the poor, the world of abundance that will be created by disruptive technologies will also be divided. This time, the division will be between those who have the technological knowledge of the new technologies and use them and those who do not have the knowledge and will be displaced from their jobs because they cannot cope up with the new processes of creating things.

Disruptive technologies will involve breakthrough innovations that will be afforded by those with the knowledge or have the means to purchase what the knowledge can produce. This sector will leave behind a segment of the population, keeping the world still divided into two groups.

As the digital divide keeps on growing, there will be a need for a new type of leadership that can minimize the gap. There will be the need for technologically literate leaders that will provide education and training to help the sector that was left behind due to lack of knowledge to be slowly assimilated into the mainstream. The new leaders will have to rethink or reinvent the new social norms and social contracts, with all segments of the society taking part in the process.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/bold-opinions/social-implications-disruptive-technologies/

Seven Technologies That Are Fundamentally Changing Society

Harvard Business Review first introduced disruptive innovation and its disruption theory in 1995. Today, disruptor is a buzzword that pertains to a company, organization, or individual that has made bold moves or has launched bold ideas that permanently changed an industry or society in general. Most of these “disruptors” are innovators that make use of advanced technology. They change how processes are done and leave a bold impact in society in general.

These are top 9 technologies that have fundamentally changed the world as we know it today:

1. Blockchain

Blockchain is the underlying technology of today’s cryptocurrencies. It is a flexible technology that can be used as a ledger, database, and list. It is decentralized, self-validating, and the larger it is, the more secure the data becomes. Blockchain can be used in various technologies, including logistics and food tracking and monitoring, transactions, aviation, medical record keeping and more.

This versatility allows blockchain to be used in a wide range of other technologies. Before blockchain, payment portals needed to verify the owner and source of the funds, the recipient, as well as track every transfer between the source and destination. On the back end, there are also measures to ensure that there is no double-spending, a case when money is used more than once.

The built-in nature of security and anonymity in a blockchain, and the decentralized ledger makes the whole system independent of any controlling authority. Companies are already making use of blockchain and cryptocurrency to tokenize the rewards for the verification process.

Blockchain users are also assured that their data is secure.

2. AI and Machine Learning

The basis of today’s artificial intelligence is the large amount of data available for study. Machine learning studies the big data and teaches itself depending on the behavior of the data. This allows AI to learn on its own with just a set of initial directives. With blazing speed, a computer can play against itself multiple times in a day. It continues to play until it understands how to win and keep studying until it understands the nature of the problem.

When AI is used to solve a particular problem, it may take a while for machine learning models to understand what is happening. Researchers and scientists do not need to teach AI the algorithms because it searches for patterns and tools within the massive amount of data it uses. The data will have a pattern and machine learning will find it, then passing the knowledge to the AI engine to be used as it sees fit.

AI allows a machine to learn patterns within data and understand the meaning of these patterns. It uses the information from raw data from multiple sources and formats, and explains it in easily digestible chunks that can be actionable and relevant to the researchers. The problem is now that it appears that machines are learning on their own and this could pose a bigger challenge that scientists are not ready to deal with.

3. Cloud Computing

Software as a service (SaaS), also called “the cloud”, has moved from plain offline storage to working on the cloud using the same tools used on a standalone PC. It has allowed people to use whatever device they want to access the information and to use online tools with the same power as traditional software.

Cloud computing has made software installation obsolete, at least for most of the common apps and tools.

For the company, using cloud computing encourages collaboration. There are also operational savings from using the cloud. There is no support nor any maintenance required. The cloud service provider handles all the problems. The tools are also usually already integrated. You can make use of the spreadsheet data and import it on to a presentation. If you are presenting from the cloud, you can present the file, even as other parts are being updated.

Recently, San Francisco-based cloud computing company, Salesforce, announced that it will invest $2 billion into its Canada offices over the next five years.

4. High Bandwidth WiFi

Bandwidth will continue to grow in both speed and in scope. One technology which is expected to bring a lot of benefits in the near future is wireless mesh networks. Networks were designed to be static objects which used cables. Each device on a cable had its own IP, and that device was expected to receive and transmit through the cable it was attached to. Even WiFi used this concept where a device using the network was tied to the network.

This means that every time a device accesses a network, it has to sign in with the network device, router, switch, etc., and establish a connection before it can access the internet. For large areas, the solution would be to use an access point, which is like a WiFi repeater, or to install an extension of the network with the use of a WiFi router. Even with this solution, the mobile device treats the extension router as a different network, and goes through the authentication every time it changes connection from one router to another.

There is, however, a solution. Called the wireless mesh network, it uses WiFi transmitters which act as smart repeaters, and is considered as only one device. While within the mesh network, a laptop, smartphone or a tablet does not need to change its IP address. The various repeaters act as one WiFi router. This effectively extends the range of the router. The user does not need to authenticate every time it gets out of reach of an antenna or the main router.

This technology makes WiFi a pervasive presence. People will no longer have to worry about getting out of range of the WiFi signal. Not only is the reach longer, but the bandwidth stays strongallowing for fast internet connections.

The main beneficiary of this technology is the Internet-of-Things. These are smart devices which are usually unmanaged. When you move a smart appliance, the user will have to authenticate for the appliance to connect to a different router. In a wireless mesh network, the IoT appliance does not need to authenticate with another network device. The IoT device can be mobile and not loss connectivity.

Considering that the growth in IoT devices is expected to accelerate in the coming years, the wireless mesh network can help the growth even further. This is also very useful for industries that use RFID devices, including logistics and security.

5. Big data

Data warehousing and data mining were tech buzzwords during the 1990s. These were used to describe how companies can keep huge amount of data and analyze them accordingly. The study of data warehousing and data mining has been supplanted by big data, which is a lot more data than what tech personnel envisioned during the 1990s.

Big data is collected from customer information, during the 1990s by telecommunications companies, and since the advent of Web 2.0, by internet companies. Companies know what their database contains but they don’t know what the information in the database means. Companies collect tons of data every day, and this is usually kept as raw data until it gets sorted out and analyzed. The data just keeps pouring in like a black hole, where every piece of information goes in and nothing goes out.

Initially, data mining entailed massaging the data into a form where intelligent queries can be done. These were done manually in an ad hoc manner, depending on the information which needed to be extracted. Nowadays, with the volume of information gathering accelerating at an even faster clip, the only way to glean any information from big data is the use of machine learning.

Using modern tools, and modern databases, machine learning allows researchers to provide computers instructions on how to distinguish significance, and to find underlying interactions and relationships. The power of machine learning is that the data is sifted through for an understanding of how it behaves. This behavior is tested against ever bigger amounts of data, until it is fully understood by the machine. The developers do not need to know how the machine does it. They only know if the machine is successful or not. When machine learning works, the computer will know the answer before the developers can even formulate the question.

6. 3D printing

3D printing promises offers a new way of doing things and , can make anyone a do-it-yourselfer. This technology allows people to print things in three-dimension and to use these as spare parts. At present, the materials are usually a form of plastic or a hard resin. The material used limits the things which can be printed and their usable lifespan. However, with new technologies and materials, improved system lifetime is also expected.

3D printed materials can be temporary solutions. They can be used until an individual is able to buy an original part made of sturdier materials.

This technology has uses which can make it unique for hospitals and medicine in general. Internal organs like valves, arteries and tubes can be 3D printed according to the patient’s specifications. The same is true of shoes, or automobile parts which are not exposed to high temperatures. Explorations can make use of 3D printing to create copies of needed items. The greatest impact of 3D printing is in research and development, as well as in manufacturing. It would be easier and faster to create prototypes with the use of a 3D printer.

7. Autonomous Vehicles

The next few years will see the growth of self-driving cars. These are autonomous driven vehicles which are aware of their environment and are meant to be safer alternatives to today’s cars. This is AI on multiple levels.. For a vehicle to be aware of its environment, it has to have numerous sensors to monitor the car’s performance and status. It has to have video capability to see the road ahead. It has to be able to monitor the traffic around the vehicle. If possible it also has to communicate with other vehicles (V2V) as well as with the road, signals, signs, sidewalks and everything else (V2X).

This means that the vehicle has to be able to process all these information in real time. This is where technology companies have an edge over car companies. This has also made partnershipsinevitable. Microchip makers, sensor manufacturers, AI researchers and car manufacturers have set up partnerships with each other and with others in different industries in order to have a better chance of putting their autonomous vehicles on the road. Ride-sharing companies are also placing resources into researching better and safer autonomous vehicles. The aim is to make riding a car easier and safer.

8. Biotech and Life Sciences

Genetics, microbiology and biotechnology techniques have given a new momentum for life sciences projects. Starting with the studyr on stem cells, researchers have been able to develop artificial embryos leading the way to better understand how life starts and develops. This is not life as we know it as it does not make use of eggs or sperm. Other advances in life sciences have included bio screening and predictive analytics for genomic data. These include testing for diabetes, and other possible congenital diseases, including tagging those who might be genetically prone to develop diseases.

Another thing to watch out for in 2018 is the use of next generation wearables track data and monitor vital signs. These wearables will be able to read blood sugar levels, as well as to predict the chances for a heart attack before it happens. Research into wearables also includes prevention of infant death syndrome with the use of a baby wearable.

The wearable market has a huge potential with Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Google trying to put their hardware and software advantages to good use in coming up with more in-depth monitoring capabilities. The current crop of wearables allow for heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, temperature and exercise level, as well as the ability to send these information to the doctor or to loved ones.

9. Nanotechnology

One of the most promising materials for nanotechnology is graphene, which could be stretched as thin as two carbon molecules. Nanotechnology research has made incredible leaps in materials with the blending of up to eight distinct elements. These were formerly known to be incompatible or not capable of being mixed together. However, a method was found where these eight metal and semiconductors were bound together into a small package. The discovery is like being able to combine eight kinds of lego blocks instead of just three. With eight metals there are more possibilities for nanomaterials.

Meanwhile new methods and techniques have also created new nanomachines. Researchers from the USA and Germany have come up with a tiny rotary motor about 30 nanometers in size which can move in a specific direction of up to 240 nanometers. This development paves the way to development of other nanomachines made from this 30 nanometer rotary engine.

Of more importance is a highly-absorbent nanomaterial which can be used as a field dressing. The material is in the form of an injectable hydrogel which makes it easy to administer for wounds in internal organs and can be used to plug internal wounds, thereby preventing hemorrhage.

The effect of these technologies are going to trickle down to consumers as soon as working models and prototypes are developed.

These are just a few of the most pervasive and rapidly-evolving technologies being used today. They are being applied in commerce, learning, health care, and the environment. These four key areas drive society as a whole. This generation must learn to adapt and harness the advantages of these developments; maximize their capabilities, and be prepared for the bold impacts that each one leaves on the lives of people who use the technology every day.

Originally Published at: https://www.boldbusiness.com/digital/seven-technologies-fundamentally-changing-society/