World Economic Forum Experts Throw Light on Top 10 Emerging Technologies

4 min read

Career Trends: April 12, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS


Emerging trends like self-fertilizing crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3D-printed houses are among the technologies on the list. (Image Credit: Canva)

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Experts convened by the World Economic Forum and Scientific American highlight technological advances that could revolutionise agriculture, health, space, environment, infrastructure and connectivity. They whittled down scores of tech advancements to a select group of new developments with the potential to disrupt the status quo and spur real progress.

Let’s take a look at the list:

1. Decarbonisation technologies

  • Governments and industries have made seminal commitments to reduce carbon emissions
  • This demands unprecedented innovation and scaling of nascent technologies to industrial levels.
  • Examples include: mass energy storage, low/no carbon chemical sources, revitalised rail transport, carbon sequestration, low carbon agriculture, zero-emission vehicles and power sources.

2. Crops that make their own fertiliser

  • Researchers now aim to coax crops such as corn and other cereals to also self-fertilise.
  • In one approach, researchers are working to emulate the symbiotic molecular communication between legumes and bacteria to create root nodules—legumes’ natural fertiliser factories.
  • In another, soil bacteria that normally colonise cereal roots are taught to produce nitrogenase, a component that converts atmospheric nitrogen to plant-compatible ammonia.

3. Diagnosing diseases with a puff of breath

  • New breath sensors can diagnose diseases by sampling the concentrations of the more than 800 compounds contained in human breath, flowing over a metal-oxide semiconductor.
  • Algorithms then analyse the sensor data.
  • For instance, elevated amounts of acetone indicate diabetes mellitus.

4. Making pharmaceuticals on demand

  • Advances in microfluidics and on-demand drug manufacturing now enable a small but increasing number of common pharmaceuticals to be made as needed.
  • Also called continuous-flow manufacture, the process moves ingredients via tubes into small reaction chambers.
  • The drugs can be made in portable machines in remote locations or field hospitals, with doses tailored to individual patients.

5. Energy from wireless signals

  • With the advent of 5G now providing wireless signals of adequate power, a tiny antenna within IoT sensors can “harvest” energy from such signals.
  • A precursor of this emerging tech has long been in use in automated “tags” that are powered by radio signals emitted when drivers pass through toll stations.

6. Engineering a longer ‘healthspan’

  • Researchers have shown an early understanding of aging’s molecular mechanisms, which could help us lead lives that are not just longer, but healthier as well.
  • Using omics technologies and insights from epigenetics, researchers can identify biological markers that are strong predictors of disease— presenting targets for proactive therapies.

7. Green Hydrogen

  • As renewable energy sources are now becoming prevalent, a “green” variant of hydrogen is being created without the release of greenhouse gases.
  • Green hydrogen is free of contaminating chemicals, enabling more efficient catalysis to promote ammonia production.

8. Wireless biomarker devices

  • Advances in low power wireless communications, as well as novel chemical sensing techniques are enabling the continuous, non-invasive monitoring of critical medical information.
  • More than 100 companies have deployed or are developing wireless biomarker sensing devices across a spectrum of applications.
  • Wireless connectivity adds the virtue of data being instantly available, if needed, for a remotely located medical professional to intervene.

9. Houses printed with local materials

  • Recent demonstrations using 3D printers take a leap ahead by employing locally sourced materials, clay, sand and local fibers to print structures.
  • This emerging technology could provide rugged shelters in remote regions, where housing needs are dire and no viable transport networks exist.

10. Space connecting the globe

  • With the recent advent of countless low-cost microsatellites in low earth orbit able to capture data globally and download it to central facilities for processing.
  • The IoT will enable unprecedented levels of global understanding—encompassing previously inaccessible developing regions devoid of traditional Internet infrastructure.


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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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