By Sharon Lewis
Deep tech is one of the innovation sector’s favorite buzzwords. And rightly so, because deep tech is at the frontier of testing the world’s capacity for technology, and edging it forward.
The term refers to technology that emerges out of new discoveries or any kind of a scientific advancement. This is why it is also referred to as ‘emerging technology’.
As the world inclines itself further toward adopting technologies for global-scale applications such as smart cities or the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, deep tech has been gaining more traction. Here are 10 such emerging technologies that have caught the world’s eye.
Blockchain is essentially a series of blocks containing data that are strung together securely and in an easy-to-trace manner.
Blockchain is one of the most exciting contemporary technologies. The post-Bitcoin world is bubbling with possibilities of the applications of blockchain, from fintech and supply chain, to regulatory compliance and data management.
AI/ML is another type of deep tech that has received close attention in recent years. Sophia the Robot is one its more famous applications. Although AI and ML are used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.
AI refers to technologies that replicate the way humans think and behave. ML, which comes under the AI gamut, is about teaching machines to learn from data so that the machines can process information with minimal human interference.
AR and VR technologies found their biggest proponents in the gaming industry. AR uses a live feed and adds digital elements to it. This how certain Instagram filters and games like Pokémon Go are built.
VR operates on more complex scale, because it constructs a completely new environment users can completely immerse themselves in. Through VR headsets, users are transported to a simulated environment that is constructed digitally – for instance, one's environment could take the form of the Amazon, while in reality, one is still in bed. VR has also been widely adopted in entertainment, with theme parks such as Hong Kong's Ocean Park introducing the technology as early as 2017.
By combining AR with hardware, the robotics industry has revolutionized practices across industries. The most prevalent application of this can be seen in drone technology, which photographers, filmmakers and (as the technology has become cheaper) even regular people lapping up the commercial products.
However, beyond the commercial applications, robotics has enabled massive leaps in other industries, such as the bionic arm being used in healthcare.
The Internet is much bigger than the World Wide Web. IoT refers to a network of billions of devices worldwide connected to each other via the Internet, using it to exchange information. This is what let smartphones control everything from coffee-makers to lights, and has spurred a new 'smart home' industry that is dedicated to developing connected appliances.
The possibilities within the universe have always had a special place in mankind's imagination. After initially searching for life in outer space, the world now wants to know if it is possible to colonize outer space, moving life from our planet to another.
While this possibility is decades, if not centuries away, satellites have been incredibly useful in the present time, giving us earth imaging (which is how the first hole in the ozone layer was discovered) and the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Instead of binary language, the 1s and 0s used by computers to process information, quantum computing uses qubits, such as electrons or photons, instead. Quantum computing is poised to help build machines that are even more powerful than supercomputers, helping solve some of the world’s most complex computing problems, including those in cybersecurity and financial modeling.
This is the automotive industry’s next big dream – autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars. Although this is another technology that's a few years away, the industry is gradually driving toward progress.
The biggest snag with this technology is that it cannot recognize objects that suddenly appear in front of it the way a human driver can, posing a major safety risk. Industrial experts believe, however, that driverless cars will be roads everywhere within the next decade.
As the environmental costs of animal meat and accounts of animal cruelty in husbandry farms become more prominent, innovators are now looking for alternatives to replace animal protein, and plant-based protein is one of them. Impossible Foods, Beyond, and Hungry Planet are some of the biggest players in this industry.
Although deep tech is capital-intensive and takes a long time to become market-ready, it promises impact at scale and the potential to change the way the world works. This is what makes it such a lucrative investment sector – global investment in deep tech touched $18 billion in 2018, a jump of 22% from 2015.
The world changed radically when the industrial revolution took place. Deep tech is bigger, because it promises not one revolution, but an entire series of them – sub-revolutions that can change the world as we know it.