Top 5: 2014’s emerging technologies

With rapid technological developments every year, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with what’s new. Today we look at some of the most exciting emerging technologies of 2014

Feature image
A computerised image of graphene, an incredibly light, strong and thin material that is proving to be incredibly useful in developing grid-scale electricity storage

A recent report published by the World Economic Forum has listed some of the most promising tech set to go big this year.

1. Wearable electronics

Wearable electronics look set to reach the public in a big way this year. Recently Google announced Android Wear, the first operating system made specifically for watches. Motorola and LG are already working on watches powered by the OS. Google Glass, the company’s other piece of wearable tech, has drawn criticism by some who claim it is intrusive and distracting.

2. Screenless displays

Although they sound like something from a science fiction film, recent developments have made this new technology more easily scalable and ready for production. Full scale keyboards can already be projected onto a surface and interacted with, and advancements by MIT last year have even proven 3D holographic displays are possible and practicable.

3. Brain-computer interfaces

In what is perhaps a scary thought, it is becoming ever more possible for computers to interpret brain activity as a method of control. Although some stress the ethical ramifications of the studies, researchers at Duke University and Harvard have even been able to link the brains of mice across the internet so that they could co-operate to perform simple tasks.

4. Grid-scale electricity storage

Traditionally power grids have to attempt to anticipate demand and balance the supply dynamically because electricity cannot be directly stored. Recent developments, particularly with graphene supercapacitors and flow batteries, look set to solve this problem by letting grids build up a store of energy they can tap at peak moments.

5. Nanostructure carbon composites

Safer, stronger, lighter – carbon composites may be the future of manufacturing. These super-materials could reduce the weight of cars or planes by 10 percent or more, and are engineered at a nano-level to ensure they are as strong as possible. Researchers also believe they might have cracked one of the biggest issues of the composites – they are now recyclable thanks to clever engineering that can break the materials back down.