The unstoppable march of technology into a pillar of our society has unleashed a lot of forces, both positive and negative, and created many problems that are well documented – the impact of social media on mental health, the evolution in the way we process information, and the instant access culture being a few notable examples. A raft of reactionary cultural movements has also been spawned – mindfulness, minimalism and social protest among them. The more negative of these aspects tend to be what gains the most press, as a spiral of sensationalist, click-bait headlines compete for our fractured attention, so the echo chamber about the unsavoury effects of technology amplifies. However, there can be little doubt that a lot of the technological leaps currently being made are of huge benefit for our safety, health and wellbeing, Each month brings breakthroughs and positive developments driven by the power and speed of technological development. Here are just some of the headline advances making the world a safer place:
York University hit the headlines recently for the development of robots that can assist at volatile crime scenes, most especially those that are hazardous to human workers such as those with chemicals or biological weapons. A range of cameras, sensor and gauges provide detailed live data feedback to skilled operators to interpret. They can even construct 3D maps of environments that are hostile to human investigation. The technology will also be of enormous help in disaster relief efforts and may help rescuers to locate casualties with much more accuracy and speed than is currently possible.
There May Be Trouble Ahead
When disaster strikes, it is unexpected by its very nature, a fact which puts relief operations very much on the back foot. But a wave of developments is giving authorities the tools to detect emergencies and disasters before they occur. There are now advances that can accurately predict landslides, as well as technology that can give early warning of forest fires – which are increasing due to global warming and kill over 400,000 globally each year – via reliable, low-cost wireless sensors developed by KUAST in the Middle East which monitor gas emissions and combine a huge range of data on temperature and humidity levels. The more ‘big data’ gathered by these sensors, the more accurately conditions that lead to these disasters can be identified. Emergency response can then be prepared in advance of a disaster happening – and this technology holds developments that could also be applied to the prediction of other, more abstract threats such as crime and illness as well.
Cars That Talk To Each Other
Sentient cars may be a trope that we more usually think of as belonging to comedy movies, but the tech behind getting vehicles to communicate with each other has the potential to save millions of lives each year by preventing road accidents and also taking the sting out of a daily commute by reducing congestion. A vehicle-to-vehicle dialogue exchanging vital data on direction, speed and positioning is fast becoming a reality, due to cutting-edge research in the US. And this prospect isn’t just a faraway dream – Volkswagen has forecast that they will have road-ready ‘talking’ vehicles by next year.
The City That Knows Your Name
Like something out of a sci-fi novel, advanced technologies are being piloted with hopes of making our cities safer too. Singapore may already have one of the lowest crime rates in the world, but that is being further supported by a pilot programme called Safe City being carried out by the government there and technology consultancy Accenture. Video analytics applied to the city’s network of CCTV is being used to identify gang members and wanted criminals, deploying policing resources much more effectively and saving civic cost and disruption in the process. Data generated by movement is used to pick up patterns that alert authorities to a crime being committed. And although some find this use of technology distinctly Orwellian, biometric data such as this is already in use via our chipped passports. This sits alongside the development of a sophisticated audio technology called ShotSpotter that can pinpoint the sounds of gunfire and alert police, giving them a greater chance to catch the suspects in robberies and homicides.
On The Homefront
While many of us may feel ambivalent about our biometric data being used by the state, we may be more sanguine about using it to protect our homes. Existing technology is having a huge impact on home security, with fingerprints and retina scans viable alternatives to mortice locks in giving access to our houses. The Intel Security True Key app can memorise the mathematical proportions of your facial structure and act as enhanced security. Use of an app can now allow you to remotely lock entrances and arm or disable a security system from anywhere in the world, while allowing for house sitters, family members and dog walkers to gain entry. These systems can also remotely monitor and alert you to any unauthorised entry to your home or even your car, meaning that you can stay vigilant and protected at all times.
High Tech Health
As the recent mania for fitness trackers has shown, we’re all keen to use technology to gain insights into our personal health and wellbeing, from scales that analyse our body fat percentage to DNA kits that give custom diet and health advice. A growing number of apps are now focused on our health and wellbeing. ShopWell provides custom dietary advice and helps you build shopping lists and a healthy eating plan, Headspace can proactively manage stress and anxiety, while MySugr helps diabetics to track their glucose levels to support the work of their health professional. Meanwhile, smartphones are also making it easier to access instant medical advice via platforms such as PushDoctor, meaning conditions are more likely to get diagnosed and managed earlier by those with busy lifestyles who never find the time to make it to a doctor’s office. MedAdvisor is a prescription management tool for those on complicated medical regimes. Whatever your health concerns, a raft of tailored support apps are out there – with more being developed all the time.
For Enea Angelo Trevisan and Ealixir, better than solving the problem of cyberbullying is preventing it
One of the most commentated news regarding Instagram for the past weeks was their investigation on whether to ban likes counter on the platform or not, but mostly from the perspective of marketing strategy. It turns out that the social media platform is actually considering this new feature as a means to avoid a much bigger problem: cyberbullying.
A recent studied carried by Pew Research Center showed that fifty-nine percent of teens reported to have experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behavior, cyberbullying included. Another concerning fact brought by the study shows that 16% of these teens were already subject of physical threat of some kind due to incidents in social media.
In addition to that, a report published by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology has highlighted the popularity of smartphones among teenagers – a statistic that only grew during the past seven years. “More U.S. adolescents and young adults in the late 2010s, versus the mid-2000s, experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts, and more attempted suicide,” stresses the study’s lead author, Jean Twenge, who also wrote the book iGen, in which he ponders about the influence of smartphones in teenage and child mental health.
Besides hiding how many likes a photo has received, Instagram is also considering another feature: a “nudge” alert that is activated while the user is still writing a comment that is flagged as potentially aggressive. According to the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, this could give an extra incentive for people to think twice before committing to an attack.
“Of all the obnoxious activities that can be carried out on the web, cyberbully is in my opinion the worst”, says Ealixir’s CEO and founder Enea Angelo Trevisan. “Cyberbullying targets those who cannot defend themselves: often minors or minorities. This is why one of our priorities as a company is to invest our technology in the fight against this plague.” In that sense, Ealixir gives support to individuals by making an early detection of offensive and troublesome contents, so they can be immediately erased and monitored to avoid further reloading.
For Trevisan, the case for cyberbullying starts in schools, and this is the reason why
Moreover, families also need to be aware of their children’s presence on the internet – they should not underestimate the possibilities and dangers of giving a smartphone to a child or a teen. “This is due to the fact that older generations were born and raised without the web, so they struggle to identify with their children. With
Besides monitoring and removing offensive contents published online,
Growth in the nanofiber market expected to continue to grow throughout 2019 and in 2020
The field is now seeing phenomenal growth and investment as newer, slicker and cheaper technologies, such as electrospinning, are allowing for more and more applications, particularly in the field of drug delivery.
Use of nanofiber is no new technology, in fact microfibers have been in use – particularly in the textile industry for many years. Even in the global filtration and separation technology market current forecasts for the coming year is that there will be growth of around 6% in demand, and that is before you factor in the explosion in alternative global drug delivery methods due to the increase in chronic diseases, new pharmaceutical products and technological advances. Major manufacturers are exploring the potential of the production of nanomaterials by electrospinning as the next big step forward for their business.
What is electrospinning and how does it work?
Put quite simply, electrospinning is the method by which nanomaterials are made. It is incredibly versatile, and the range of raw materials that can be used is very wide ranging, and can allow for different properties of the finished product.
Starting with a polymer melt, using materials such as collagen, cellulose, silk fibroin, keratin, gelatin, or polysaccharides for example, chain entanglement takes place in the solution. An electrical force is then applied to pull threads of electrically charged materials into a jet that can be whipped or spun into fibers as the solvents in the solution are evaporated.
Finally the dry fiber is formed into a membrane or material, depending on the intended use. The material will have some great functional properties, such as a large surface area-to-volume ratio, high porosity and strength.
Nanomaterials are revolutionising the advancement of new materials, and for companies looking to be the leaders in new developments and pushing industry forward with new technologies this is an area that will help them stay at the top of their game.
Why is it worth the research and development?
With virtually limitless applications, electrospinning can be used in any industry. Not just in the production of textiles, where breathable, lightweight or protective clothing might be required, but also in the creation of filtration systems, and in medicinal and pharmaceutical products.
It even has use in the packaging of food and other consumables, and there is some research being put into the creation of food. There are already companies who have managed to scale their electrospinning processes.
The versatility of the process and the potential for creating groundbreaking new products is only part of the story. One of the other reasons this is a good direction to take your research and development team is because it is relatively quick and easy to set up with the help of a good electrospinning equipment company. There is a range of machinery available, from small worktop ‘proof of concept’ electrospinning machines for small laboratories, to large pre-production scale machines. It means that start up and installation costs are far lower in comparison to many other production processes.
The user interface of this machinery has also advanced with the times, making it far simpler to operate and carry out the processes with a passing knowledge of polymers and electrostatics. Training up the workforce takes no time at all. The world is already seeing the benefits of this technology, particularly in the field of health and medicine. For example wound patches or organ membranes are artificially made and used during surgical procedures. Due to the molecular structure of the material it can graft with biological living tissue. And of course in the use of pharmaceutical implants and patches for the slow release of medicine. This is a field that will continue to grow as new discoveries are made.
9 disruptive technologies that will bloom before 2019 ends
Since the beginning of time, each new technological invention has meant a change of paradigm for the way people work. However, in recent years the frequency of changes has accelerated to such an extent that companies have to renew themselves and their daily procedures almost every season.
2019 is a disruptive year as far as technology is concerned: the trend of innovation continues at an accelerated pace, deepening the technological revolution. Innovative industries keep evolving and they are overcoming barriers only imaginable in Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi novels or in TV series and films such as Black Mirror or Gattaca. Check the technological trends that are making a disruptive change in the digital transformation.
1. 5G mobile networks
Some companies have started to launch pilot experiments of this kind of technology. 5G prepares the ground for navigating at speeds of up to 10 gigabytes per second from mobile devices.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
This will be the year of its definitive take-off. Included in the political agendas, the European Commission has made it one of the mandates for member states to develop a strategy on this matter by the middle of the year.
3. Autonomous devices
Robots, drones and autonomous mobility systems are some of the innovations related to AI. They all aim to automate functions that were previously performed by people. This trend goes beyond mere automation through rigid programming models, as it explores AI to develop advanced behaviors that interact more naturally with the environment and users.
Finally, this technology it is no longer associated only to the crypto coins world, and experts are starting to notice its likely application in other fields. In congresses such as the annual IoT World Congress by Digitalizing Industries, -coming in october 2019-, we will witness the actual implementation of many projects based on ‘blockchain’, which will try to solve the challenges still faced by technology in different fields such as banking and insurance. It will also be a decisive year for the deployment of ‘decentralised organisations’ operating around smart contracts.
5. Advanced analytics
‘Big data’, is taking a step further with this trend, which combines this technology with artificial intelligence. Automatic learning techniques will transform the way data analysis is developed, shared and consumed. It is estimated that the capabilities of advances analytics will soon be widely adopted not only to work with information, but also to implement them in business applications of the departments of Human Resources, Finance, Sales, Marketing or Customer Service, in order to optimize decisions through a deep analysis of data.
6. Digital twins
Digital Twins are one of the disruptive technologies that will have more impact on the simulation and analysis of industrial processes. A digital twin is the virtual representation of a real-world entity or system capable to maximize the benefits of the digital transformation of companies. Many companies and organizations are already implementing these representations and will develop them over time, improving their ability to collect and visualize the right data, apply improvements to it, and respond effectively to business objectives.
7. Enhanced Edge Computing
Edge computing is a trend mostly applied to the Internet of Things. It consists of the location of intermediate points between connected objects in order to process information and perform other tasks in places closer to the reception of content by the user, in order to reduce traffic and latency in responses. This is a way to keep processing near the endpoint rather than on a centralized cloud server. However, instead of creating a new architecture, cloud computing and perimeter computing will evolve as models complementary to cloud services, managed as a centralized service that runs not only on centralized servers, but on local distributed servers and on the perimeter devices themselves.
8. Immersive experiences in intelligent spaces
Chatbots integrated into different conversation platforms and voice assistants are transforming the way people interact with the digital world, as are virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). The combination of these technologies will lead to a profound change in the perception of everything that surrounds us through the creation of intelligent spaces where more immersive, interactive and automated experiences can be lived for a specific group of people or for specific scenarios in an industry.
9. Digital ethics and privacy
Digital ethics and privacy are issues of increasing interest to individuals, organizations and governments. It is no coincidence that people are increasingly concerned about how their personal information is being used by public and private sector entities, so in the coming months companies will be proactively addressing these concerns and to gain the trust of users.
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