MIT just released its top 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2013 where their definition of a breakthrough is “an advance that gives people powerful new ways to use technology.”
I like better how they first described the list as:
Think of the most frustrating, intractable, or simply annoying problems you can imagine. Now think about what technology is doing to fix them. That’s what we did in coming up with our annual list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies. We’re looking for technologies that we believe will expand the scope of human possibilities.
So what made the list you might wonder. Temporary Social Media, Memory Implants, Smart Watches, and one of my favorites is “Additive Manufacturing” where an example of GE is on the verge of using 3D printing to make complex, precisely designed shapes, such as jet parts.
On a TED talk not too long ago, Skylar Tibbits talks about his involvement in a 4-D printing, self-assembly program where physical and biological materials can change shape, change properties, and even compute on their own using an energy as a catalyst to make the structure change. Imagine printing a three-dimensional design for a structure that would fold upon itself to create an intentional shape such as a cube with a transfer of energy such a shaking the structure or adding water.
I love to watch this list every year to get a glimpse of the technologies that just might end up making our lives just a bit easier. A list of reports from the past years can be found on the MIT Technology Review website.