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Decarbonisation' to 'wireless charging’: Emerging tech in WEF's top 10 list for 2021

Decarbonisation' to 'wireless charging’: Emerging tech in WEF's top 10 list for 2021

Self-fertilising crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3D-printed houses are among the technologies on the list.

WEF's Top 10 Emerging Technologies Report lists new technologies poised to impact the world in the next three to five years. Photo: WEF WEF's Top 10 Emerging Technologies Report lists new technologies poised to impact the world in the next three to five years. Photo: WEF

The World Economic Forum (WEF), in its Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2021 Insight Report for November 2021, has listed new technologies that are poised to impact the world in the next three to five years. From breath sensors that can diagnose disease to wireless charging of low-powered devices, the 10th-anniversary edition of the WEF Top 10 Emerging Technologies report lists some unique technologies that will reshape the world in the next few years.

The first technology on the list is 'decarbonisation'. As countries and big business houses commit to reducing carbon emissions, efforts are on globally to drive decarbonisation in all aspects of daily life. However, experts suggest there's a need to scale up innovation and technological developments in areas such as mass energy storage, low/no carbon chemical sources, revitalised rail transport, among others.

Another technology that's disrupting the status quo is the one with which crops make their own fertiliser. It's crucial for countries to invest in this technology as the world uses over 110 million tonnes of nitrogen fertiliser to boost production each year. If crops can produce nitrogen on their own, it could reduce the problem of pollution, soil depletion and carbon emission.

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Another technology in the list includes diagnosing diseases with a puff of breath. There are breath sensors that can diagnose diseases by sampling the concentrations of the more than 800 compounds contained in human breath.

The traditional method of making medicines is multi-step and involves hundreds of tonnes of material and involves various challenges. Making medicines on demand is another technology that aims to address the problem of consistency and reliable supply.

With the rise of 5G technology providing wireless signals of adequate power, researchers have found that a tiny antenna within IoT sensors can “harvest” energy from such 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. This will solve the problem of charging IoT sensors, often extremely low power devices that report data critical to daily lives, themselves.

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Age hacking or engineering a longer “healthspan” is another area that is seeing major developments. Researchers are experimenting with ageing’s molecular mechanisms. This could help people lead longer and healthier lives.

Scientists are working on a "green" variant of hydrogen as renewable energy sources become prevalent. The green hydrogen helps eliminate excess atmospheric carbon and is free of contaminating chemicals.

Biomarker devices going wireless is another area that finds a place in the WEF's top 10 emerging technology list. Across the world, over 100 companies are using wireless biomarker sensing devices to enable monitoring of critical medical information. Due to the wireless connectivity, data is available instantly, especially in remote areas.

Besides, houses printed with local materials also find a place on the list as they could help provide rugged shelters in remote regions in developing nations. 3D printers can employ locally sourced materials, clay, sand and local fibres to print structures. This can cut the need for transporting material to the site by almost 95 per cent, the report said.

As per the WEF, as countless low-cost microsatellites in low earth orbit capture data globally and download it to central facilities for processing, IoT will enable unprecedented levels of global understanding — encompassing previously inaccessible developing regions devoid of traditional Internet infrastructure. This is another area that will see major progress in three to five years.

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