Since 2001, MIT Technology Review has published its list of 10 technical innovations launched each year. The editors have chosen each object to be able to change the world. Earlier year lists included epigenetics, wireless sensor networks, online computing, add-on production, smart watches, and 3D mobile applications. The 2014 list is equally exciting.
Farmers began to use camera-bound agricultural drums to improve the crop. The drones offer the farmers a unique perspective that could not be used with satellite images. They help identify problems with irrigation, soil degradation and crops in difficulty at a much lower cost than methods such as crop charts with a pilot vessel. Drones success is possible thanks to the technical development of GPS modules, digital radios and small MEMS sensors. Together, these advances allow farmers to identify their activities for greater rewards.
ULTRA PRIVATE SMARTPHONES
In light of growing privacy issues, especially in terms of new technologies, a Maryland-based company is looking for an alternative. Silent Circle encrypts voice calls, text messages and client files. Encryption prevents potential intruders from hearing calls and protecting metadata. Silent Circle has good plans for the future, including a secure smartphone called Black phone. Black phone uses the encryption tools used by Silent Circle and other software to protect data.
Neuroscientists have been working for decades to better understand how the brain works. New advances in cardiovascular technology have made this ambitious task easier. An international research group from the Human Brain project has created a three-dimensional atlas of the brain. The resolution on the map is fifty times higher than previous attempts. Atlas creators have digitally collected thousands of parts of the brain. The map shows details of up to 20 microns, the estimated size of many human cells. While this is an important advance, researchers continue to make a map showing the details of 1 or 2 microns instead of 20 microns.
Many companies around the world are trying to eradicate the boundaries between biological systems and artificial creations. Qualcomm takes important steps to develop an artificial intelligence system with neuromorphic chips. These chips connect neurology to traditional techniques such as smart phone chips. Qualcomm is already testing chips on small robots that allow machines to perform tasks that normally require a custom computer. The chips can process sensory data in the image and let them respond in a way that is not explicitly programmed. For example, chips can predict users’ needs.
Chinese researchers have created some monkeys with specific genetic mutations. Researchers have used a new method for DNA technology called CRISPR. With CRISPR, researchers can change fertilized eggs. This innovation has important implications for the biomedical field. The ability to modify DNA at specific sites on chromosomes facilitates the examination of the disease. The MIT researchers have expressed interest in examining brain diseases such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease. CRISPR has the potential to help researchers study these diseases and identify the genetic mutations that cause these diseases.