16 Industry Experts Discuss Tech Developments They Say Truly Promote The Greater Good

AI Impact on Society/artificial intelligence

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Nearly every year in the fall, tech enthusiasts turn their attention to Apple, waiting for details on the release of the latest iteration of the iPhone. For many fans, it’s an exciting countdown to the day when they can hold the latest, “coolest” device in the tech giant’s industry-leading arsenal in their own hands.

It can certainly be argued that Apple and other leaders in the personal tech space have developed products that genuinely make their users’ lives easier (and more fun). However, tech experts are often most impressed with another genre of “cool” tech—tech that they feel really promotes the well-being and prosperity of people across the globe, whether through supporting human health, combating climate change, growing the global food supply or in some other way. Here, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share recent and upcoming tech developments they genuinely believe promote the greater good and why they’re so impactful.

1. Electric Vehicles

The electrification of vehicles is going to have a positive impact on health within cities. Even if the source of the electricity used to charge the vehicles is not clean, the fact that the energy source becomes centralized removes pollution from major city centers, where a lack of flora reduces carbon recapture, and allows for more effective filtering than would be possible within individual vehicles. – Paulo Carvalho, Avantsoft

2. 3D Printing

I’m passionate about the environment and technology’s role in a sustainable future. 3D printing has the potential to be a game changer. Its ability to manufacture and print items with eco-friendly materials and reusable plastics means there’s huge scope for its use. This will not only help businesses reach their environmental goals; 3D printing can also be put to use within the home by consumers. – Natalia Mila, Upstream

3. Hydroponics/Vertical Farming

Through hydroponics and vertical farming, we’re able to grow food vertically and more sustainably than ever before. It’s enabling large-scale urban farming and making cities like Singapore self-sustainable. Equipment that allows consumers to grow food plants via hydroponics can also be marketed as high-end consumer products (such as Click & Grow or Lettuce Grow). – Abhinav Sharma, Insight Browser

4. The International Space Station

It’s hard to overstate the technological and scientific importance of the International Space Station. This low-Earth-orbit research station has been the base for more than 3,000 experiments that have improved the cars we drive, the clothes we wash and the medicines used to treat osteoporosis and other diseases—even the way we grow food here on Earth. – Shelli Brunswick, Space Foundation

5. Water Batteries

Next-generation “water batteries,” such as the one built under the Swiss Alps, provide clean, renewable energy. This particular installation could stabilize Europe’s electricity grid, which is critical to the future of our planet. – Saryu NayyarGurucul

6. Solar Energy Producers/Storage

As our society reviews its reliance on different energy types, solar production and battery storage in parallel have become increasingly streamlined and cost-effective. Organizations such as Tesla are readdressing the energy conversation. With patent-protected energy production, storage and transmission infrastructure deployed globally, solar tech is creating intergenerational societal impact. – Dax Grant, Global Transform

7. Portable Wind Power

My favorite piece of “cool” tech right now is Shine Turbine. I love the idea of having the ability to generate your own power through a device that is easily portable and uses renewable energy: wind. We will never get away from batteries, so we need a better way to charge all our devices in a more distributed, “micro” manner so we don’t have to rely so much on a centralized power supply. – Thomas Whang, Impelix LLC

8. Smart Doorbells

Smart doorbells have been great for my non-tech-savvy mother. She is an elderly woman living in a rural area of another state, and she has the ability to see who or what is in her doorbell camera’s view. She feels safe, which has been monumental during the pandemic. She can let people know if she is not receiving visitors or tell delivery drivers to leave packages at the door. She is empowered and in control. – Windy Nicholson, Salesforce

9. Paperless Service Platforms

Real-time, paperless, open architecture platforms are driving service costs down and increasing companies’ margins, versus earlier models that were people-driven. For example, consider how most of us today make our travel bookings—anytime, anywhere, at the click of a button. It’s all thanks to APIs and the aggregation of airlines and hotels. – Amit Narang, ICC

10. Online Learning Platforms

Tech talent needs to upskill every 18 months to keep up with the pace of change. That can get very costly, which means some people are going to have an unfair economic advantage. I think the online learning platform edX is incredibly cool, because it democratizes access to knowledge, offering courses from places including Harvard and MIT for free. Knowledge shouldn’t be a privilege—everyone should have access, globally. – Ginger Dhaliwal, Upflex

11. Wearable Health Devices

I am impressed by the wearable devices for various chronic health conditions that can be “connected” to the user’s smartphone. Patients I have interacted with in the space believe they are game changers for managing their conditions—although, since many patients don’t know how to use the various APIs (for example, data visualization APIs), some advocacy may be needed. Additionally, data privacy concerns are coming up, but I don’t believe they will be a deterrent to adoption. – Ganesh Sundaram, Alef Innovations

12. Mixed Reality For Medical Care

Mixed reality, which had its origins in computer games, today helps save lives. It improves the quality of health care, increases patients’ comfort and safety and supports cost optimization. It helps doctors in the fight against cancer, and it enables specialists from different fields and parts of the world to work together. Further, it can be used to train medical students before they begin working directly with patients. – Robert Strzelecki, TenderHut

13. Speech Synthesis/NLP Technologies

Speech synthesis and natural language processing technology have had a profound impact, particularly for people with impaired vision. As a dyslexic, text-to-speech functionality in word processors has been life-changing for me. Voice control and virtual assistants are big conveniences and timesavers, but these technologies have also opened up a new world of capability for millions of people. – Charles Aunger, Health2047 – American Medical Association

14. Drones

I find drones pretty cool, especially those that help save people’s lives. Whether they’re used to inspect toxic or hard-to-access enterprise spaces or assist first responders in searching for victims, visual inspection and public safety drones do a tough job without endangering humans. – Konstantin Klyagin, Redwerk

15. Wireless Mesh Products

Wireless mesh products allow for peer-to-peer, off-grid communications. They empower everyday users to operate in harsh environments and in worst-case scenarios. With everything going on in the world, communication and connection could mean the difference between life and death. That kind of tech shouldn’t be reserved for governments and enterprises—everyday users need access to P2P mesh comms. – Tom Roberto, Core Technology Solutions

16. Satellite Internet

Satellite internet has been an excellent tech innovation. Bandwidth has increased as latency and cost have decreased, and satellite internet connects remote communities—places where traditional telecom providers don’t want to invest in providing connectivity. Given how marginalized some of these communities can be, satellite internet has been a great enabler, giving them access to online services. – Thomas Kranz, RDX Works

Tech Developments

Tech Developments

Tech Developments

Tech Developments
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