Written by IEEE | November 25, 2015 | Updated: March 30, 2017
From wearables and 3D printing to smart home innovations and intelligent transportation, the 2015 tech market has given us lots to be thankful for. To kick off Thanksgiving in the US, we’ve pulled together a top 10 list of gadgets and technologies from the past year that have, or will have, a positive impact on humanity.
- Supercomputers: Supercomputers have helped us make some great strides in healthcare. For example, teams from UC Berkeley and the University of California San Diego used the supercomputing resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center to simulate how ultrasounds and tiny bubbles injected into the bloodstream might break up blood clots, limiting the damage caused by a stroke in its first hours.
- 3D Printing: 3D printing isn’t just millennial makers. In fact, its applications are very promising and ever-evolving across many industries, including healthcare, education, and even fashion. Imagine how much more fun science and math might have been in high school way back when had the charts, graphs and models been 3D printed.
- Intelligent Transportation: Google is not the only name in the driverless car game. In fact, automakers including Audi, BMW and Volvo have all tossed their hats in the ring to create intelligent transportation solutions, and the ante was upped even more when Apple followed suit.
- Smart Home Appliances: The smart home landscape continues to take off, with new products emerging often. While lighting remains the gateway product, the possibilities extend to securing and operating every room and appliance in the house.
- Biometric Authentication: You don’t have to work in finance to know that money is complex, and so securing it goes well beyond a typical text-based password. Biometric authentication for mobile payments will continue to diversify beyond fingerprints to things like facial recognition, and innovations will continue to be a result of partnerships, like the one between Accenture and Visa.
- Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR): Twenty-first century medicine is far from traditional — everything is laced with technology. AR/VR has offered healthcare professionals alternative options for surgical training, therapy, and even stroke rehabilitation.
- Artificial Intelligence: Robotics have come a long way since Rosie, the Jetson’s maid. AI has made its mark on education by offering students an opportunity to think critically and creatively in an interactive environment. It has also made an impact in medicine, where nanorobots are used for surgical procedures, search and safety, and food safety.
- Wearables: Fitness trackers kicked off the wearable fad, but they only scratch the surface of possibility with wearables. The landscape continues to evolve as consumers grow more comfortable interacting with technology that’s less visible. The technology will grow more sophisticated as more data is collected about the user experience across devices.
- Application-Powered Technology: As tech innovations become more and more invisible, apps to power them become more necessary. Wearables and other IoT devices almost all have companion apps that serve as the main command center, so that if for some reason a rule or setting fails, there’s a main dashboard to update or reset functionality.
- Data Storage Solutions: Devices aren’t the only technology pressured to change over time. As more devices emerge that collect information, data storage solutions must also change and adapt. We’ve evolved past paper punch cards with cloud systems dominating the market, housing more than one exabyte (about one quintillion bytes) of data.