When it comes to commanding the innovative technology spotlight, Big Data. Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, robotics and IoT continue to hold center stage (with a space reserved for the iWatch once Apple makes it look a lot less like one of those bulky circa 1970 calculator and calendar watches).
However, behind the scenes is a world — actually, make that a galaxy — of technologies that are shaping everything from how we work, what we eat, and even how we think. Here are three technologies that you’ve probably never heard of, but are nevertheless changing our world for the better:
Never heard of graphene? You’re not alone. Some people might assume that it’s a breed of Pokemon, or maybe a flavor of bubble tea. Not quite. Graphene is a remarkable strong, yet ultra-light thin and light layer of graphite that can also conduct electricity and heat. Researchers are already experimenting on how to use graphene to improve everything from cellphones to clothing to contraceptives. Yes, you read that right: the Gates Foundation has awarded a $100,000 research grant to see how graphene can be used to create a mega-durable condom.
- High Pressure Homogenizers
Have you ever wondered why the texture of moisturizer cream or even soda pop is consistent? No, of course you haven’t — but that’s because high pressure homogenizers (like the ones made by Bee International) have removed that worry. Without drilling deep into the science, high pressure homogenization is a mechanical process that reduces particle size by forcing liquid at extremely high pressure through a very narrow nozzle. This technology is used widely in the pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical, cosmetic and food industries.
- Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation
Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation — or tDCS for those who don’t feel like adding a new 12-syllable term to their vocabulary — is a kind of electric neuro-stimulation that improves brain effectiveness in certain regions. It’s being used enhance language and learning abilities, treat patients with brain injuries, improve memory and coordination, and the list goes on. This technology is still in its relative infancy, but it’s a safe bet than 50 years from now (or maybe sooner) tDCS — or some evolution of it — is going to be embedded into all kinds of stuff; and maybe all kinds of people.
The Bottom Line
Technology is always top-of-mind when it comes to what’s new in our world, but sometimes what’s happening behind the scenes is where the excitement is. The three technologies above are playing — and will continue to play — a defining role in what we do, how we do it, and indeed, who we are.