Thanks to the world of emerging technologies, there seems to be a newly developed solution for most everyday problems. You need to speak to your boss who lives in England- hop on a video chat. You need to order a textbook for a class- tell your at home, voice automated assistant to add your psych textbook to your shopping cart. You need a place to store all of your vacation photos- the cloud has already saved these photos automatically, allowing you to access these photos without taking storage on your phone. The little obstacles in life seem to magically disappear through the innovations brought by emerging technologies, and these are just some basic examples. Tech innovators are also working to solve much larger issues. Innovations in 3-D printing are developing ways to print organs to save lives. Developments in the world of autonomous vehicles are working towards building vehicles and transportation systems that interact with each other to avoid the crashes that kill millions.
Inconveniences that once caused a pause in our day are no longer even a consideration, and the problems that cause our lives to turn upside down are being tackled through technologies that we can barely comprehend.
Climate change and increasing pollution are some of the problems being addressed by technological advancements. Whether it be the years of unaddressed emissions polluting our air, or increasing pollution dumped into the sea, the growlingly concerning state of our planet is an issue politicians and citizens alike are frantically scrambling to address. A recent push in the last few decades to shift our practices to being “greener” has brought a plethora of opportunities for emerging technologies to swoop in and help. The market for new, greener tech is one that is exponentially expanding. Even though our practices as a society are far from the sustainable ones they should be, these technologies are working towards allowing us to move in the right direction.
1) Blockchain Energy Trading Platform
Blockchain is a technology that acts as a structure that keeps records of data transactions in a way that is secure, and transparent. Data users can approve these transactions without needing the approval of a central platform. It can be thought of as a chain of records being housed (in blocks) that is not monitored by a central power.
For decades countries have been trying to find ways to create and use energy more efficiently and sustainably. A potential fix to this problem can be found through blockchain technology. More renewable energy sources such as solar and wind powered technologies have been developed and have definitely guided the future direction of sustainable energy in the right direction. However, these options are relatively expensive to implement and cannot consistently change output to fit increasing energy demand. Blockchain has been explored as an option to fix this imbalance demand that cannot be met by renewable energy sources. In Germany, developers of the BEST project have combatted this issue by establishing an electric market provider system (SMBA) to allow users to trade electricity quickly on and demand that would go without use. This would allow for more efficient use of electricity, even if not produce through a sustainable measure. Allowing for the trading of electricity would enable energy producers to produce less waste and for people to be less wasteful.
2) Breathing Buildings
We have been taught to thank trees for their ability to breathe in carbon dioxide, and improve our air quality, but what about buildings? Thanks to technological advancements by Ecologic Studio, “buildings that breath” are working to help improve our air quality. This can be achieved through the creation of panels that can be attached to buildings. These panels then “breath in” air that is full of pollutants. These panels take in and hold CO2 and harmful algae from the air and release back the filtered oxygen into the air inside or surrounding the building. What is also so unique about this system is that the algae and bacteria captured through the filtration process can then be used in the creations of bio- plastics and fertilizers. Keeping our air clean and providing sustainable alternatives to harmful fertilizers and plastics, Ecologic Studio is using emerging technology to innovatively attack the problem of air pollution.
3) A New Future for our Cities
In the past decade, a push to make our major cities more ecofriendly has shifted the goals of designers, architects, and major corporations towards sustainability. This can be seen in Toyota’s plans to build a “smart city” that is completely sustainable. The city will be a “Woven City” as it will use data from all aspects of the city to function. In order to be completely sustainable, Toyota plans to tackle the issue of traffic and carbon emissions by utilizing autonomous vehicles and an inter connected grid road system. By using autonomous vehicles and a system tailored to only these vehicles,
the city will be able to run at a faster pace without the air pollution typically seen in a big city. Toyota is also aiming to redefine how buildings are constructed. They plan to use almost all wood and robotic production to decrease the waste and pollution created with construction. These buildings will be powered by solar power and built with solar panels attached to every building. Plans to build this eco friendly, hydrogen powered city from the ground up are set to begin during this year near Mt. Fuji.
While we may not witness the emergence of fully sustainable cities or be trading our excess energy tomorrow, these innovations are just some of the exciting ways the tech industry is working to save our planet. Even as wolverines who bleed maize and blue, an encouraging “Go Green” to the tech industry is in order to keep pushing the boundaries of sustainability.