It’s not stuff most of us think about every day, but we may soon be a lot more familiar with terms like brain organoids, megascale desalination, Internet balloons, liquid biopsies, and more. At least, that’s what the MIT Technology Review reported in Breakthrough Technologies 2015:
“Not all breakthroughs are created equal. Some arrive more or less as usable things; others mainly set the stage for innovations that emerge later, and we have to estimate when that will be. But we’d bet that every one of the milestones on this list will be worth following in the coming years.”
Here are a few of the items included on the list:
- Brain organoids: In greatly oversimplified terms, these are miniature brains that can be grown from an adult’s cells. They may help researchers better understand brain disorders and develop effective treatments.
- Megascale desalinization: The world does not have enough fresh water. One solution is seawater desalination. Thanks to engineering improvements, reverse-osmosis desalination has become cost-effective.
- Internet balloons: Imagine 15-meter helium balloons with solar-powered electronics hovering 20 kilometers in the air (far above commercial airline flights) and making the Internet available to people who currently have no access.
- Liquid biopsies: Someday soon, annual blood tests may help diagnose cancer early. Gene sequencing machines decode millions of fragments of DNA in the bloodstream, looking for specific DNA patterns that indicate cancer. Knowing the DNA mutation behind a cancer may also help physicians choose the most effective treatments.
It’s important to keep track of developing technologies because they have the potential to disrupt industries and change the way business is done.