Explore Inventors Biography Alphabetically


Home A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ReferenceToday Home 

Art | Business Studies | Citizenship | Countries | Design and Technology | Everyday life | Geography | History | Information Technology | Language and Literature | Mathematics | Music | People | Portals | Religion | Science | Subject Index


List of emerging technologies

In the history of technology, the following list of emerging technologies, the character of which comprise cutting-edge developments,[1] represent contemporary advances and innovation around the 21st century in various fields of technology. Emerging technologies are those technical innovations which represent progressive developments within a field for competitive advantage.[2] However, the opinion on the degree of impact, status, and economic viability of several emerging technologies vary. There is an ongoing public policy debate over many emerging technologies and their implications for society.


Energy technologies

Emerging Technology Status Potentially Marginalized Technologies Potential Applications Related Articles
Nuclear fusion power Theory and experiments Fossil fuels, renewable energy, nuclear fission power Electric power generation, space transportation
Biofuels Diffusion Fossil fuels Energy storage, particularly for transportation Issues relating to biofuels
Hydrogen economy Diffusion (of hydrogen fuel cells); Theory and experiments for less expensive production of hydrogen Other technologies for storing energy (conventional batteries, fossil fuels) Storage of energy
Nanowire battery Working prototypes Other technologies for storing energy (hydrogen, conventional batteries and in some cases fossil fuels) Laptops, mobile phones and long-range electric cars. Storing power for electric grid
Ultracapacitor Diffusion and continued development conventional batteries Regenerative braking; generally faster-charging, longer lasting, more flexible, and/or greener energy storage
Wireless energy transfer Working prototypes Batteries Wirelessly powered equipment (laptop, cell phones etc.)


Emerging Technology Status Potentially Marginalized Technologies Potential Applications Related Articles
Electric cars Small scale production, infrastructure investment Internal combustion engine Greener transportation Chevrolet Volt, Better Place, Riversimple
Personal rapid transit Working prototypes (and models) Conventional rail/bus public transport; would reduce need for everyone to own their own car Greener transportation List of existing, planned, and proposed PRTs
Personal aircraft Commercial production Commercial Airlines
Crower six stroke engine Working prototypes (and models) Conventional Four-stroke engine and Two-stroke engine Greener transportation
Precooled jet engines Laboratory verified precooler subsonic jets Very fast, long distance air travel, space travel
Scramjet Working prototypes Hypersonic Jet engines, Rocket engines Very fast air travel
Non-rocket spacelaunch
  • Launch loop
  • Lightcraft
  • Mass driver
  • Space gun
  • Space elevator
  • Space fountain
Theory and some experiments Rocket Space colonization, mass space travel, disposal of radioactive waste

Information Technology

Emerging Technology Status Potentially Marginalized Technologies Potential Applications Related Articles
Artificial intelligence Theory and experiments; limited application in specialized domains Replacement of Human decision, analysis, etc. Creation of intelligent devices Applications of artificial intelligence
Machine translation Prototyping and research Human translation of natural languages, in areas where misunderstanding is non-critical and language is formalized Easier cross-cultural communication
Machine vision Prototyping and research biological vision, the visual perception of humans Biometrics, Controlling processes (e.g. a driverless car, or an automated guided vehicle), detecting events (e.g. for visual surveillance), interaction (e.g. for human-computer interaction), robot vision Computer vision, pattern recognition, digital image processing
Machine augmented cognition/exocortices Diffusion of primitive amplifications; working prototypes of more; theory and experiments on more substantial amplification Libraries, schools, training, pocket calculators
Semantic Web or answer machine e.g. see www.wolframalpha.com Search engines Making the web machine-readable by linking data on the web based on its meaning
General-purpose computing on graphics processing units Diffusion of non standardized methods CPU for a few specialized applications Order of magnitude faster processing of parallelizable algorithms.
Solid-state drive Diffusion; development of larger capacity Hard disk drive Less delicate, low mass (lighter laptop computers & portable electronics), faster, quieter, lower power consuming storage
3D optical data storage or Holographic data storage Prototyping and research All other optical data storage solutions, magnetic tape data storage, and other mass storage devices. Storage and archiving of data that was previously erased for economic reasons Holographic Disc Ultra HD sony and other big companies are interested in this technology
Spintronics Working prototypes Mechanical magnetic hard disk drives Data storage MRAM
Optical computing Theory and experiments - some components of integrated circuits have been developed Many integrated circuits and other electronics devices Smaller, faster, lower power consuming computing
Quantum computing Theory and experiments Electronic computing, optical computing Much faster computing, for certain kinds of problems, chemical modeling, new materials with programmed properties, theory of high-temperature superconductivity and superfluidity
Quantum cryptography Commercialization Secure communications
Wireless communication Diffusion Wired communication Ubiquitous network connectivity
Screenless display Theory and experiments displays Augmented reality, virtual reality Virtual retinal display, Adaptive optics
3D displays Theory and experiments, Commercialization CRT, LCD, and other display technologies Television, computer interfaces, cinemas Autostereoscopic display, stereoscopic display, volumetric display, holographic display
Organic light-emitting diode first commercial OLED TV in 2008, Sony XEL-1 LCD and plasma displays Displays; lighting OLED TV, Comparison of display technology
Interferometric modulator display Commercialization and development CRT, LCD, plasma, e-paper and other display technologies Non-emissive displays with fast response times and potentially the most realistic colors of all display technologies Interferometric modulator display, comparison of display technology
Laser displays first commercial Laser TV in 2008, Mitsubishi LaserVue TV LCD and plasma displays Displays with very wide colour gamut prowess Laser TV, Comparison of display technology
Phased array optics Theory Conventional display devices (e.g., television) Mass production of 3-dimensional imagery
Holography Diffusion Display technologies
Memristor Working prototype Some current integrated circuits, many other electronics devices Smaller, faster, lower power consuming storage, analogue electronics, Artificial intelligence
3D printing In commercial production Manual creation of prototypes and also some mass production methods that lack the ability for customization Rapid prototyping and production of not only plastic objects but multi-material items, with the potential to significantly customize products for individual consumers
Thermal copper pillar bump Working prototypes in discrete devices Conventional thermal solutions, heat sinks, bulk thermoelectrics Electric circuit cooling; micro-fluidic actuators; small-device thermoelectric power generation Ultra high defintion holograpic disc
Immersive virtual reality Theory, limited commercialization consensus reality an artificial environment where the user feels just as immersed as they usually feel in consensus reality Immersion, simulated reality


Emerging Technology Status Potentially Marginalized Technologies Potential Applications Related Articles
Genetic engineering Commercialization; ongoing research & development Animal husbandry, Plant breeding Creation and modification of species, bio-machines, elimination of genetic disorders. Genetically modified food, Genetic pollution
Synthetic biology, Synthetic genomics Research & development Chemical industry, Petroleum industry, Process industries Creation of infinitely scalable production processes based on programmable species of bacteria and other life forms BioBrick, Igem, Synthetic Genomics
Nootropics Available Now Drugs that improve memory or cognition in healthy or aged populations. Piracetam, Aniracetam, Pregnenolone
Anti-aging drugs: resveratrol, SRT1720 Animal testing Existing treatments for age-related diseases Life extension
Vitrification or Cryoprotectant Theory and some experiments Ischemic Damages Organ transplant, Cryonics
Hibernation or Suspended Animation Animal trials, ongoing research and development Surgical anesthesia Organ transplant, space travel, prolonged surgery, emergency care
Stem cell treatments Research and experiments Treatment for a wide range of diseases and injuries In Vitro meat Stem cell treatments, Stem cell
Personalized medicine Theory Orphan drugs Cancer management and Preventive treatment; genetic disorders

Robotics and applied mechanics

Emerging Technology Status Potentially Marginalized Technologies Potential Applications Related Articles
Swarm robotics Theory and experiments distributed computing, complexity in behavior by simplicity in architecture, Autonomous construction, space construction swarm intelligence, autonomous robotics, nanorobotics, particle swarm optimization, multi-agent systems, behavior-based robotics
Molecular nanotechnology, nanorobotics Theory and experiments Small products and parts production & retail Desktop devices that can make anything given the materials, cheap planetary terraforming
Powered exoskeleton Prototyping and diffusion, research & development, commercialization [3] Electric wheelchairs, forklifts. Heavy lifting, paralysis, muscle related diseases, warfare, construction

Material science

Emerging Technology Status Potentially Marginalized Technologies Potential Applications Related Articles
High-temperature superconductivity Cryogenic Receiver Front-End (CRFE) RF and microwave filter systems for mobile phone base stations; Working prototypes in dry ice; theory and experiments for higher temperatures Copper wire No loss conductors, frictionless bearings, magnetic levitation, lossless high-capacity accumulators, electric cars
High-temperature superfluidity Superfluid gyroscopes already exist but work at very low temperatures Mechanical Gyroscope High-precision measure of gravity, navigation and maneuver devices. Potentially devices to produce gravitomagnetic field, frictionless mechanical devices.
Nanomaterials: carbon nanotubes Diffusion, theory, in use occasionally and experiments Structural steel and aluminium Stronger, lighter, and more intelligent materials, space elevator
Metamaterials Diffusion Classical optics Microscopes, cameras, cloaking devices
Self-healing materials Experimental Demonstrations Structural Materials Plastic parts, wide range of applications
Programmable matter e.g. quantum dots Theory/Experiments Coatings, catalysts Wide range of applications


Emerging Technology Status Potentially Marginalized Technologies Potential Applications Related Articles
LED lamp Diffusion Incandescent and Fluorescent Lighting Illumination
Force field Unknown Military and law enforcement, space travel. Plasma window

See also

List of inventors, list of inventions, Industrial Ecology, sustainable development
nanoscience, molecular manufacturing, Neurotechnology
casuistry, engineering ethics, nanoethics, Bioethics, Neuroethics
brain–computer interface, rugged computer, handheld computer, virtual reality
anthropogenics, machine guidance, Radio frequency identification, National Science Foundation

Further reading

  • IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation, & Fuertes, J. M. (1999). 1999 7th IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation proceedings, ETFA'99, October 18-21, 1999, UPC, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Piscataway, N.J.: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
  • Jones-Garmil, K. (1997). The wired museum: Emerging technology and changing paradigms. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums.
  • Giersch, H. (1982). Emerging technologies: Consequences for economic growth, structural change, and employment : symposium 1981. Tübingen: Mohr.


  1. ^ Popular Science. May 1982. Vol. 220, No. 5. Bonnier Corporation. Page 75+. ISSN 0161-7370
  2. ^ International Congress Innovation and Technology XXI: Strategies and Policies Towards the XXI Century, & Soares, O. D. D. (1997). Innovation and technology: Strategies and policies. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
  3. ^ Christopher Mims (2009). "Exoskeletons Give New Life to Legs". Scientific American. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=honda-exoskeleton-assist-devices. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 

External links