Adapting Emerging Technologies for Industrial Development By Taofeek Oladiran Folami, PhD, FNSChe Paper Presented at the Raw Materials Research and Development Council 2016 Techno-Expo, 10th -12th February 2016

Adapting Emerging Technologies for Industrial Development

By Taofeek Oladiran Folami, PhD, FNSChe

Paper Presented at the Raw Materials Research and Development Council 2016 Techno-Expo, 10th -12th February 2016

Thursday 11th February 2016

1.0 Definition

An emerging technology is one that is still emerging from, or has only recently emerged from, the research base. In simple terms it allows us to do something that was not possible before or was only possible in theory. Emerging technologies are capable of changing the status quo. They are generally new but may include older technologies that have not gained wide acceptance and/or characterised by the convergence of technologies from other fields.

2.0 Characteristics of Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies typically have the following characteristics:

  1. Radical novelty
  2. Relatively fast growth
  3. Potential to impact considerably on socio-economic domain
  4. Uncertainty
  5. Ambiguity

Potential impact lies into the future, so that there is always uncertainty. Some emerging technologies, such as gene therapy and stem cell research for example, have emerged decades ago have not wide acceptance because they are controversial, while advances in information and communications technology has dramatically changed the way people, businesses and governments engage with each other and radically changed manufacturing and production processes.

Prominent examples of emerging technologies include the following:

  1. Information and Communications Technology (RFID, 4G,etc)
  2. Biometrics
  3. Nanotechnology
  4. Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM)
  5. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)/ Drones
  6. Cognitive Science
  7. Concentrated Solar Power
  8. Biotechnology
  9. Genetic Engineering
  10. Stem cell Treatments
  11. Robotics
  12. Artificial Intelligence
  13. Educational Technology

As explained earlier, emerging technologies are generally new but may include older technologies and/or represent the convergence of technologies from other fields. New technology fields sometimes result from technological convergence of different systems evolving towards similar goals.

For example, convergence brings previously separate technologies, driven by advances in digital technology, such as voice and telephony, data and video, sharing resources over the internet to create highly impacting efficiencies.

Another example is drone technology (unmanned aerial vehicles) which combines advances in ICT such digital communications, video, photography with auto piloting to provide cost effective solutions for aerial surveillance to achieve improved security, traffic control, remote sensing, to mention a few.

The purpose of this paper is to agitate the audience to generate a national discuss on what emerging technologies to adopt and how to leverage these technologies to meet our national goals of job creation, wealth generation and rapid industrialisation.

3.0 Our Strategic Sectors for National Development

Our challenges in Nigeria include job creation, the need to boost local manufacturing and production and support small scale industries to improve wealth generation and job creation.

Critical sectors through which we can explore deploying emerging technologies to achieve the stated objectives within the Nigerian context include:

  1. Broadband Infrastructure
  2. Agriculture,
  3. Solids Minerals,
  4. Power,
  5. Small and medium scale manufacturing and production and

The main driving force is the need to diversify the economy and promote wealth creation, thus, job creation through industrialisation. Key challenges in these areas include extensive value addition to raw materials to stimulate local manufacturing and exports.

4.0 Emerging Technologies and Industry Sectors

What emerging technologies would potentially impact the sectors of current national strategic importance such as agriculture, solids minerals, construction, power and small scale manufacturing?

A brief of some emerging technologies of relevance to Nigeria is given below. A fuller list is attached in Annexure B showing emerging technologies in 12 sectors obtained from the World Public Library site in the Internet.


Increase food production, food security and profitability.


Increasing of farm yields/outputs

Crop Storage

Disease and Pest Control


Access to markets

Emerging Technology of Relevance

Remote Sensing

Geographic Information Systems

Biotechnology (Genetic Engineering, Stem Cell Treatments)

Drone Technology

Solids Minerals


Environmental Pollution and Public Health Concerns

Rising Cost of Mining

Emerging Technology of Relevance

Mining Automation

Geographical Position Systems (GPS) based Trucking and Dispatching

Computer Aided Mining Excavations.

Space born remote sensing

Numerical modelling and real-time visualisation ahead of mine face.

Automation and control systems

Geochemical and Geophysical technologies



Rising costs, pressure for students ill-equipped for competitive market

Emerging Technologies of Relevance

Electronic Textbooks

Computerised Grading

Simulation Technology

Distance Learning

Cloud Computing

Mobile Learning

Games and Gamification

3D Printing – Additive Manufacturing

Printing of 3 dimensional solid objects

Areas of potential Impact

Product design

Rapid product prototyping

Customised finished products

Automotive parts assembly


Medical (tissue &organ fabrication, customised implants, dental industry)

Moulding Industry.

Drone Technology

Aerial Surveillance

Areas of Potential Impact

Traffic management; Security Surveillance;

Agriculture; Oceanography; Commercial aerial surveillance of livestock monitoring; Wildfire mapping, Pipeline security, home security.

Domestic aerial surveillance; Border Patrol; Oil gas and mineral exploration and production; Geophysical surveys; Geomagnetic surveys, transport of goods.

Automobile Industry


Improving fuel efficiency, reducing environmental pollution, reduce manufacturing costs

Emerging Technologies of Relevance

Natural Gas Vehicles

Fuel cell Vehicles

Carbon Fibre



Ramp up power generation, enrich energy mix, and reduce environmental pollution

Emerging Technologies of Relevance

Concentrated Solar Power

Wind Power


Ocean Waves


Creating useful materials, devices and systems through control and manipulation of matter at atomic/molecular level

Areas of potential Impact

Energy, Medicine and Drugs, Cosmetics, Textiles, Optical engineering, Electronics, Information Technology, Environmental remediation, Food safety, Food Quality, Food processing, Food Packaging

5.0 Strategy

From this brief catalogue of emerging technologies mapped with some of our areas of strategic national importance, it is clear that what we need is to identify emerging technologies that holds promise and are of relevance to our vision of job creation, wealth generation and industrialisation. The goal is to create a national programme aimed at exploiting emerging fields and establish the strategic framework to help us adapt these technologies, combine them with current established technological trends, for industrial development.

The challenges are therefore to

  1. Identify the emerging technologies to examine for their innovation potential and the industry sectors they are likely to offer beneficial impact.
  2. Identify and prioritise the technologies to adapt and the target sectors.
  3. Determine how to adapt the technologies to the sectors of strategic national importance.

Addressing these challenges calls for the following strategic approach:

  1. Stimulate innovation to address local issues and devise local solutions based on our challenges.
  2. Sustained government investment in research and development with strong focus on
    • devising practical adaptation strategies,
    • funding pilot projects and
    • developing relevant skill-sets to drive these adaptation strategies.
  3. Strong collaboration and partnerships between academia, research institutions, industry and government to ensure investment and skills development converge with the governments directions.

In essence we need to nurture the emerging technologies of relevance and catalyse their adoption. The strategic theme to adopt is Innovate Nigeria through sustained investment in research and development.

6.0 Why this Approach

6.1 The Challenges

Extensive studies in literature have identified common challenges to the commercialisation of emerging technologies, including the following:

  1. the potential applications are not always apparent at the outset
  2. finding the best route to market for ideas that potentially threaten established business methods is inherently difficult;
  3. companies are not always aware of the opportunities presented by emerging technologies, or how to manage the threats they might present to their existing business models;
  4. support for early-stage, pre-investment, proof-of-concept work can be difficult to raise;
  5. it is often not clear initially how costs will compare with existing solutions, which are likely to benefit from the economies of scale and experience;
  6. establishing a unique selling point is not always straightforward;
  7. the time taken to get products to market may not be easy to predict thereby making it difficult to raise capital;
  8. people with the requisite skills and capabilities can be in short supply during the commercialisation process;
  9. public sector support is not always aligned across the various stakeholders that can help.

6.2 Justification

No doubt, emerging technologies offer the prospects of immense wealth generation to society when it matures to its full capability, transforming the markets in which they are deployed and can be adopted by existing businesses or new/start-up businesses. However, the strategic approach proposed is driven by the accepted fact that commercialising emerging technologies, where there are so many unknowns, is always challenging.

Since no one can accurately foresee the future, it is hard to predict which emerging technologies will have the most impact in the future. Businesses, therefore, face the challenge of investing in turning emerging technologies into new products, processes and services because the commercial value is not apparent at the outset.

It is therefore rational that government spearheads nurturing and developing emerging technologies to the point of demonstrating its potential and facilitate their adoption. It is also clear that the key to commercialising emerging technologies is a strong research and development framework, which must be the put at the door step of government.

7.0 Conclusions

Government must invest in research and development to critically examine the potential of selected technologies, identify what technologies to adapt, where and how, by agitating the minds of our people through creating incentives for innovation.


Dr. Taofeek Oladiran Folami is a Chemical Engineer and ICT Consultant of several decades. He is the immediate past Special Adviser to The Governor on The Environment in Lagos State in the 2011 – 2015 administration of His Excellency, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), where he was specifically tasked with Wastewater Management and Environmental Protection in Lagos State.

Annexure A: Drone Technology Usage

As concerns drone technology, below are awesome ways drones are being used today globally to resolve everyday issues innovatively and cost effectively:

  1. Crime Fighting: Police departments in the US have deployed drones that they can use for surveillance and other protection-related activities. Even the FBI is using them.
  2. Border Patrols: Drones are increasingly popular in being utilized to patrol remote borders.
  3. Public Safety & Disaster Relief: As extreme weather becomes increasingly severe, technology will play a critical role in monitoring situations & supporting first responders. Drones are becoming indispensable in disaster relief operations and at other times during emergencies that call for timely distribution of medication and aid.
  4. Oil & Gas Pipelines/Power Generation & Distribution: Oil & gas pipelines are notoriously tough to monitor & maintain and can be potentially dangerous & high risk. Given their ability to fly into hard-to-reach places, UAVs are able to better monitor oil and gas pipelines, which can be vast and tough for humans to track. This is also applicable to the power generation and distribution companies for inspection & monitoring.
  5. Capturing Videos & Pictures. Given its aerial abilities, drones have been able to capture things in ways never before seen resulting some truly breathtaking videos & pictures. This can be applied to various activities including but not limited to the movie industry (UAVs have already been adapted by a number of filmmakers looking to capture more innovative shots), sporting events, real estate industry (aerial photos and videos are used to advertise properties for sale/lease thanks to the use of relatively inexpensive drones), mining industry, mapping industry, home security, construction industry, medical industry (using drones to deliver medical supplies & test results to remote areas) and the insurance industry (utilizing drones to take photos of devastation in areas that humans can’t safely reach and to help with processing claims faster) to name a few
  6. Covering the news. When it comes to reporting there’s nothing more important than catching the action as it happens. In what may become the next trend in journalism, news stations are already using drones to help them better report stories and some reporters have already begun using UAVs to capture the day’s news.
  7. Farming. With their aerial abilities, farmers can now see if their irrigation systems are working, how their crops are growing and even see if any of the plants are sick by using infrared technology. This enables farmers to make critical decisions about where and when to fertilize, plant or water. They can also be used to spray crops.
  8. Putting out wildfires. Drones are becoming an incredibly useful tool for firefighters, especially those who have the seemingly impossible task of putting out wildfires. Not only are the aircrafts being used to spot the fire and tracking its movement, but they can actually fight fires as well, ultimately keeping people out of harm’s way.
  9. Delivering other things, too. The easiest way to order the shopping is to simply load up a shopping app for next-day delivery, but drones mean you could end up having items the same day. That brings us back to Amazon and its plan to deliver your purchases with drones. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says, “It will work and it will happen, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.” UPS followed suit and revealed that they, too, were working on a drone delivery system. Will it work? China has already gotten into the drone-delivery game with Shenzhen-based courier service, SF Express.

Attached are some examples of drones and their specifications.



This is a list of currently emerging technologies, which contains some of the most prominent ongoing developments, advances, and innovations in various fields of modern technologyEmerging technologies are those technical innovations which represent progressive developments within a field for competitive advantage.[1]


1 Agriculture

2 Biomedical

3 Displays

4 Electronics

5 Energy

6 IT and communications

7 Manufacturing

8 Materials science

9 Military

10 Neuroscience

11 Robotics

12 Transport

13 Other


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Agricultural robot[2]Research and development, trial projects
Closed ecological systems[3][4][5]Research and development, working demonstrators (e.g.Biosphere 2)Agricultural scienceAgriculture, scientific research,space colonizationGreenhouseEden ProjectBioshelter,Seawater greenhouse,Perpetual harvest greenhouse system
Genetically modified food[6][7]Research and development, commercialization
Meat incubatorResearch and developmentButchers, the meat packing industry[8]Creating synthetic meat products
In vitro meatResearch and development[9][10][11]Animal husbandry,fishing[11]Humane, resource-efficient meat[11]New Harvest
Precision agricultureResearch and development, diffusion
Vertical farmingResearch, development, experiments, and diffusion[12][13][14]Industrial agricultureCrop and meat production


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologies and/or industriesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Artificial uterusHypothetical, researchIncubatorextracorporeal pregnancy, Reprogeneticssame-sex procreation
Body implants,prosthesisTrials, from animal (e.g., brain implants) to human clinical (e.g., insulin pump implant), to commercial production (e.g. pacemaker, joint replacement,cochlear implant)Various fields of medicineBrain implantretinal implantProsthetics,prosthetics in fiction
CryonicsHypothetical, research
Expressive augmentationHypotheticalPlastic surgery, make-upbody painting and some parts of costumesReproduction, cosmetics, and genetic diversityParahuman,Human genetic engineering
Genetic engineeringResearch, development, commercialization[15][16]Animal husbandry,plant breedingCreating and modifying species, bio-machines, eliminating genetic disorders (gene therapy)Genetically modified food, genetic pollution
Hibernation or suspended animationResearch, development, animal trials[17]Surgical anaesthesiaOrgan transplantation, space travel, prolonged surgery, emergency care
Life extension, Strategies for Engineered Negligible SenescenceResearch, experiments, animal testing[18][19][20]Existing treatments for age-related diseases[20]Increased life spans[20]Resveratrol,SRT1720
NanomedicinesResearch, experiments, limited use[21][22]
Oncolytic VirusHuman trials (Talimogene laherparepvec, reolysin,JX-594), commercialisation (H101)Cancer therapy, imagingOncolytic virus
Personalized medicine, full genome sequencingResearch, experiments[23]Orphan drugsCancer management and preventive treatment; genetic disorders
Regenerative medicineSome laboratory trials[24]Life extension
Robotic surgeryResearch, diffusion[25][26][27]Surgeonsuntrained in robotic surgery
Stem cell treatmentsResearch, experiments, phase I human trial spinal cord injury treatment (GERON), cultured cornea transplants[28][29]Other therapiesTreatment for a wide range of diseases and injuriesStem cell, stem cell treatments, Skin cell gun
Tissue engineeringResearch, diffusion[30][31][32][33]Organ printing
VirotherapyResearch, Human TrialsGene Therapy, cancer therapyVirotherapy,Oncolytic Virus
Vitrification or cryoprotectantHypothetical, some experiments[34]Ischemic damagesOrgan transplantation,cryonics


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
3D displaysResearch, commercialization[35][36]other display technologies, CRT,  LCDTelevisioncomputer interfacescinemasAutostereoscopic displaystereoscopic displayvolumetric displayholographic display, Light Field display, Nintendo 3DS, HTC Evo 3D
Ferro Liquid DisplaySome commercial products
Field emission displayResearch
Holography(Holographic displayComputer-generated holography)Diffusion[37][38][39]Display technologies
Interferometric modulator displayDevelopment, commercializing[40]Other display technologies, CRT, LCD, plasma, e-paperNon-emissive displays with fast response times and potentially the most realistic colors of all display technologiesInterferometric modulator display,comparison of display technology
Laser video displaysfirst commercial Laser TV in 2008, Mitsubishi LaserVue TVLCD and plasma displaysDisplays with very wide colour gamutLaser TVComparison of display technology
OLED displaysDiffusion[41][42]LCD and plasma displaysDisplays, lightingOLED TV,Comparison of display technology
Organic light-emitting transistorDevelopment
Phased-array opticsHypothetical[43][44]Conventionaldisplay devices(e.g.,television)Mass production of 3-dimensional imagery
Quantum dot displayDiffusion
Screenless display (Virtual retinal display, Bionic contact lens), EyeTapHypothetical, experiments[45]Traditional displaysAugmented realityvirtual realityEyeTap could allow the user to reference the blue prints like in a construction yard, in a 3D manner, Delivers the user constant up to date information on the stock market, the user’s corporation, and meeting statuses, visual disabilitiesHead-mounted displayHead-up displayadaptive optics
Surface-conduction electron-emitter displayAbandonedTraditional displaysDisplays with high contrast ratio, fast response time and high energy efficiency
Telescopic pixel displayIn development
Thick-film dielectric electroluminescent technologySuspended
Time-multiplexed optical shutterCommercialized
Volumetric display3-dimensional imagerySwept-volume display


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Electronic noseResearch, commercialization[46][47]X-ray and MRI scans for detecting cancerDetecting spoiled food, chemical weapons and cancer
E-textilesResearch, diffusion[48]
Flexible electronicsResearch, development, some prototypes[49][50]Flexible and folding electronic devices (such as smartphones), Flexible solar cells which are lightweight, can be rolled up for launch, and are easily deployableNokia Morph, Flexible organic light-emitting diode
MemristorWorking prototype[51][52]Some current integrated circuits, many other electronics devicesSmaller, faster, lower power consuming storage, analogue electronicsArtificial intelligence
SpintronicsWorking prototypes[53]Mechanical magnetic hard disk drivesData storageMRAM
Thermal copper pillar bumpWorking prototypes in discrete devicesConventional thermal systems, heat sinks, bulk thermoelectricsElectric circuit cooling; micro-fluidic actuators; small-device thermoelectric power generation (see thermoelectric generator)Ultra high definition holographic disc, Metal–insulator transition


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Vortex engineChimneyCooling towerSolar updraft towerPower generation.
Airborne wind turbineResearch[54][55][56]Fossil fuelsProducing electricityKiteGen
Artificial photosynthesisResearch, experiments[57]growing interest in a macroscience global project [58]Fossil fuel or ‘archived’ photosynthesisImprove natural photosynthesis, so roads buildings and vehicles convert sunlight and water into hydrogen and carbon dioxide into carbohydratesSustainocene, Renewable energy, Nanotechnology
BiofuelsDiffusion[59]Fossil fuelsEnergy storage, more so for transportIssues relating to biofuels
Concentrated solar powerGrowing markets in California, Spain, Northern Africa[60]Fossil fuels, photovoltaicsProducing electricityDESERTEC, BrightSource EnergySolar Millennium
Electric double-layer capacitorDiffusion, continued development[61]Chemical batteriesRegenerative braking; energy storage: generally faster charging, longer lasting, more flexible, greener
Flywheel energy storageSome commercial examples
Fusion powerHypothetical, experiments; for 60+ years[62]Fossil fuelsrenewable energynuclear fission powerProducing electricity, heat, fusion torch recycling with waste heatITERNIF, PolywellDense plasma focus, Muon-catalyzed fusion
Generation IV reactorResearch, ExperimentsTraditional nuclear power reactors, fossil fuelsProducing electricity, heat, transmutation of nuclear waste stockpiles from traditional reactors
Grid energy storageIncreasing use
Home fuel cellResearch, commercialisation[63][64][65]Electrical gridOff-the-grid, producing electricityAutonomous buildingBloom Energy Server
Hydrogen economyDiffusion of hydrogen fuel cells; Hypothetical, experiments for lower cost hydrogen production[66]Other energy storage methods: chemical batteriesfossil fuelsEnergy storage
Lithium-air batteryResearch, experiments[67]Other energy storage methods: hydrogen, chemical batteries, some uses of fossil fuelsLaptops, mobile phones, long-range electric cars; storing energy for electric grid
Lithium iron phosphate batteryCommercialization
Molten salt batteryApplications and continuing research
Molten salt reactorResearch, ExperimentsTraditional nuclear power reactors, fossil fuelsProducing electricity, heat
Nanowire batteryExperiments, prototypes[68][69]Other energy storage methods: hydrogen, chemical batteries, some uses of fossil fuelsLaptops, mobile phones, long-range electric cars; storing energy for electric grid
NantennaResearch[70][71][72]Fossil fuelsProducing electricity
Silicon–air batteryExperiments
Smart gridResearch, diffusion[73][74][75]Smart meter, SuperSmart Grid
Solar roadwayResearch[76][77][78]Fossil fuelsProducing electricity
Space-based solar powerHypothetical
Thorium fuel cycleResearch started in the 1960s, still ongoingUranium based nuclear power, fossil fuelsProducing electricity, heat
Wireless energy transferPrototypes, diffusion, short range consumer products[79]Power cords, plugs, batteriesWirelessly powered equipment: laptop, cell phones, electric cars, etc.WiTricity, resonant inductive coupling
Energy harvestingExperimentsBatteriesConstant energy source for mobile, wearable and ubiquitous devices


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
4G cellular communicationFirst commercial LTE networks deployed in Sweden December 2009; candidate systems LTE-advanced and IEEE 802.16m (Mobile WiMAX Release 2) in developmentbroadbandPervasive computingMobile broadband, mobile TV, Interactive TV3D-TV,[80]holographic cameras[80]
Ambient intelligenceHypothetical
Artificial brainResearch[81]Neurological disease’s treatments, artificial intelligenceBlue Brain Project
Artificial intelligenceHypothetical, experiments; limited uses in specialized domains[82][83][84]Human decision, analysis, etc.Creating intelligent devicesProgress in artificial intelligence, technological singularity, applications of artificial intelligence
Augmented Realitydiffusion
Emerging memory technologies T-RAM,Z-RAM, TTRAM,CBRAMSONOS,RRAMRacetrack memoryNRAM,Millipede memoryIn developmentCurrent memory technologies
Fourth-generation optical discs (3D optical data storage, Holographic data storage)Research, prototyping[85]Some mass storage methods/devices, magnetic tape data storage, optical data storageStoring and archiving data previously erased for economic reasonsBlu-ray Disc, Optical storage
General-purpose computing on graphics processing unitsDiffusion of non standardized methodsCPU for a few specialized usesOrder of magnitude faster processing of parallelizable algorithms
Machine augmented cognition, exocorticesDiffusion of primitive amplifications; working prototypes of more; Hypothetical, experiments on more substantial amplificationLibraries, schoolstraining, pocket calculators
Machine translationDiffusion[86][87]Human translation of natural languages, in areas where misunderstanding is non-critical and language is formalizedEasier and cheaper cross-cultural communication
Machine visionResearch, prototyping, commercialization[81]Biotic vision and perception, including humansBiometrics, controlling processes (e.g., in driverless car, automated guided vehicle), detecting events (e.g., in visual surveillance), interaction (e.g., in human-computer interaction), robot visionComputer vision, pattern recognition, digital image processing
Mobile collaborationDevelopment, commercialization[88]Traditional video-conferencing systemsExtends the capabilities of video conferencing for use on hand-held mobile devices in real-time over secure networks. For use in diverse industries such as manufacturing, energy, healthcare.[89]
Optical computingHypothetical, experiments; some components of integrated circuits have been developed[90]Many electronics devices, integrated circuitsSmaller, faster, lower power consuming computing
Quantum computingHypothetical, experiments,[91]commercialization[92]Atomtronics,
Electronic computing, optical computing, quantum clock
Much faster computing, for some kinds of problems, chemical modelling, new materials with programmed properties, Hypothetical of high-temperature superconductivity and superfluidity
Quantum cryptographyCommercialization[93]Secure communications
Radio-frequency identificationDiffusion of high cost[94][95][96]BarcodeSmartstores – RFID based self checkout (keeping track of all incoming and outgoing products), food packaging, smart shelves, smart carts. See: potential uses
Semantic Web oranswer machineResearch, limited useWeb 2.0Making the web machine-readable by annotating data on the web based on its meaning
Speech recognitionResearch, Development, CommercializationMechanical input devices
Three-dimensional integrated circuitDevelopment, commercialization[97][98]Conventional integrated circuit
Virtual RealitydiffusionTelevisionEntertainment, education


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
3D printingCommercial production[99][100]Manual prototype production, some methods of mass production that lack customizabilityRapidly prototyping and producing plastic objects and multi-material items, with potential to significantly customize products for individual consumersRepRap Project,Contour Crafting, D-Shape
ClaytronicsHypothetical, experiment3D printing, traditional manufacturing methods and tools
Molecular assemblerHypothetical, experiment3D printing, traditional manufacturing methods and toolsReplicator (Star Trek)
Utility fogHypothetical, experiment


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
AerogelHypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses[101]Traditional Insulation, GlassImproved insulation, insulative glass if it can be made clear, sleeves for oil pipelines, aerospace, high-heat & extreme cold applications
Conductive PolymersResearch, experiments, prototypesConductorsLighter and cheaper wires, antistatic materials, organic solar cells
Femtotechnology, PicotechnologyHypotheticalPresent nuclearNew materials; nuclear weapons, power
GrapheneHypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses[102][103]silicon-based integrated circuitComponents with higher strength to weight ratios, transistors that operate at higher frequency, lower cost of display screens in mobile devices, storing hydrogen for fuel cell powered cars, sensors to diagnose diseases[104]
High-temperature superconductivityCryogenic receiver front-end (CRFE)RF and microwave filter systems for mobile phone base stations; prototypes in dry ice; Hypothetical and experiments for higher temperatures[105]Copper wire, semiconductor integral circuitsNo loss conductors, frictionless bearings, magnetic levitation, lossless high-capacity accumulatorselectric cars, heat-free integral circuits and processors
High-temperature superfluiditySuperfluid gyroscopes already exist but work at very low temperaturesMechanical gyroscopeHigh-precision measure of gravity, navigation and manoeuvre devices, possible devices to emit gravitomagnetic field, frictionless mechanical devices
MetamaterialsHypothetical, experiments, diffusion[106]Classical opticsMicroscopescamerasmetamaterial cloakingcloaking devices
Multi-function structures[107]Hypothetical, experiments, some prototypes, few commercialComposite materials mostlyWide range, e.g., self health monitoring, self healing material, morphing…
Nanomaterials: carbon nanotubesHypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses[108][109]Structural steel  and aluminiumStronger, lighter materials, space elevatorPotential applications of carbon nanotubes, carbon fiber
Programmable matterHypothetical, experiments[110][111]Coatings, catalystsWide range, e.g., claytronicssynthetic biology
Quantum dotsResearch, experiments, prototypes[112]LCD, LEDQuantum dot laser, future use as programmable matter in display technologies (TV, projection), optical data communications (high-speed data transmission), medicine (laser scalpel)
SiliceneHypothetical, researchField-effect transistors


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Airborne laserResearch and development, trials, discontinuedMissile defenseTracking and destruction of tactical ballistic missilesAdvanced Tactical LaserHigh Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System
Antimatter weaponHypotheticalNuclear weapons
Caseless ammunitionField tests and some niche marketsCartridges
Directed energy weaponResearch, development, some prototypes[113]FirearmsWarfareLaser Weapon System
ElectrolaserResearch and developmentTaser
Electromagnetic weaponsResearch and development[114][115]FirearmsWarfareCoilgunRailgun
Electrothermal-chemical technologyResearch and developmentConventional ammunitionTank, artillery, and close-in weapon systems
Particle beam weaponResearch and developmentFirearmsWarfareStrategic Defense Initiative
Plasma weaponResearch
Pure fusion weaponHypothetical
Sonic weaponResearch and development
Stealth technologyResearch and developmentCamouflageElectronic countermeasuresPlasma stealthStealth aircraftRadar-absorbent material
Vortex ring gunResearch and developmenttear gasCrowd control


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Abolition of SufferingHypotheticalHumanity +
AmpakineEnhance attention span and alertness, and facilitate learning and memory
Artificial brainIBM Blue Brain project
Brain-computer interfaceResearch and commercializationVideo games, television, and moviesA revolution in entertainmentmedicine, and computing.
Brain-reading, NeuroinformaticsResearch[116][117][118]Mind uploading, enabling individuals with brain damage to communicate[119]
ElectroencephalographyResearch, diffusion[120][121]Keyboards and other interfacesControlling electronic devices via brain wavesBrain Gate.
NeuroprostheticsVisual prosthesisbrain implantexocortex, retinal implant


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Molecular nanotechnology, nanoroboticsHypothetical, experiments[122]Products and parts production, retail distributionMachines (desktop, industrial) that can make anything given the materials, cheap planetary terraforming
Powered exoskeletonResearch, development, prototypes, diffusion, commercializing[123]Electric wheelchairs, forkliftsHeavy lifting, paralysis, muscle related diseases, warfareconstruction, care for the elderly and disabled.LOPES (exoskeleton), ReWalkHuman Universal Load Carrier, fictional armor Iron Man’s armorFuture Force Warrior
Self-reconfiguring modular robotHypothetical, experiments, early prototypesOther ways to form physical structures and machinesAs a universal physical machine, SRCMR may change the way we make many physical structures and machinesRobotswarm robotics, autonomous research robot
Swarm roboticsHypothetical, experiments[124]Distributed computing, complexity in behavior by simplicity in architectureAutonomous construction, space constructionSwarm intelligence, autonomous robotics, nanorobotics, particle swarm optimizationmulti-agent systems, behavior-based robotics
Unmanned vehicleResearch and development, some diffusionManned vehicles, human spyingMass surveillanceeavesdroppingOceanography, Commercial aerial surveillance of livestock monitoring, wildfire mapping, pipeline security, home security, road patrol and anti-piracy. Domestic aerial surveillance, patrol the nation’s borders, scout property, and hunt down fugitives, Oil gas and mineral exploration and production, geophysical surveys, geomagnetic surveys, transport of goods, Scientific research in areas too dangerous for pilots like a droid hurricane tornado hunter, Armed attackSearch and rescue, explosives and Bomb disposal, peacekeeping operations, ground surveillance, gatekeeper/checkpoint operations, urban street presence, enhance police and military raids in urban settings.Unmanned aerial vehicle, AeroVironment, AeroVironment Global Observer, AeroVironment Nano Hummingbird, Unmanned combat air vehicle, Unmanned ground vehicleUnmanned space vehicle, Unmanned surface vehicleUnmanned underwater vehicle, Autonomous underwater vehicle


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Airless tireResearch, development, early prototypes[125][126][127]Conventional tire[127]Safer tires[127]Tweel
Alcubierre driveAttempting to create a warp field in lab tests[128]Conventional space propulsionInterstellar exploration and colonizationBreakthrough Propulsion Physics Program
Alternative fuel vehicleCommercialization, diffusionInternal combustion engineReducing air pollution, decreasing oil consumptionElectric vehicle, Hydrogen vehicle, Compressed air vehicle
Beam-powered propulsionHypotheticalLaser propulsion
Driverless carResearch, development, prototypes[129][130][131]Driver’s licensesrules of the roadtraffic lightstraffic sign, highway patrols, vehicle insurancesReducing traffic collision, increasing road capacity, reducing air pollution, reducing traffic congestionGoogle driverless car, General Motors EN-VCityCar, MIT Car
Flexible wings (X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing, Adaptive Compliant Wing),fluidic flight controlsExperiments, prototypes[132][133][134][135][136]Other flight control systems: ailerons, elevatorselevons,


Controlling aircraft, shipsAircraft flight control system, BAE Systems Demonfluidics
Flying carEarly commercialization, prototypes[137][138]AutomobileroadMore effective transportationTerrafugia Transition, Moller M400 SkycarUrban Aeronautics X-Hawk
HovertrainGround effect trainResearch, development[139][140]Conventional trainsTrains with higher speedAérotrainDuke Hospital PRT,Hovercraft
Ion thrusterIn use
Jet pack or backpack helicopterEarly commercialization, prototypes[141][142]AutomobileMore effective transportation
Maglev trainVactrainResearch, early commercialization[143][144][145]Conventional trains, the wheelTrains with higher speedTransrapid, Shanghai Maglev Train, Linimo
Mass driverPrototypes
Personal rapid transitEarly commercialization, diffusion[146][147]AutomobileMore effective transportationMorgantown PRTULTra
Physical InternetResearch[148]Conventional logistics
Propellant depotResearch, developmentHeavy lift rocketsenabling deep-space missions with more massive payloads, satellite life extension, ultimately lowering the cost per kg launched to space
Pulse detonation engineTestbed demos
Reusable launch systemResearch, developmentExpendable launch systemSurface-to-orbit transportSpaceX reusable rocket launching system
ScramjetResearch, development[149][150][151]Conventional jet engineHypersonic aircraftNASA X-43
Solar sailIn 2010, IKAROS was the world’s first spacecraft designed to use solar sailing propulsion to be successfully launchedSpace travel
Space elevatorResearch, development[152]Non-rocket space launch, Orbital ringSky hookSpace fountain
SpaceplaneResearch, development[153][154][155]Conventional airlinersHypersonic transportA2Skylon
Supersonic transportCommercialization existed, diffusionConventional airlinersAirliner with higher speedConcorde, Tupolev Tu-144
Nuclear Launch CannonHypotheticalOther cargo launchVery cheap launch for cargo
High Altitude PlatformsExperimentationMost satellites, cell phone towersCommunications
Orion Nuclear StarshipHypothetical, ExperimentsChemical rocketsFast Interplanetary Travel, with some possible Interstellar Travel applications
Fusion rocketResearch, development [156]Chemical rocketsFast Interplanetary Travel, with limited Interstellar applications
AeroscraftPrototypeHeavy-lift, high altitude platform
Float to OrbitHypotheticalConventional space launchSpace launch
HyperloopResearch, developmentHigh-speed railFaster way to get somewhere


Emerging technologyStatusPotentially marginalized technologiesPotential applicationsRelated articles
Anti-gravityHypothetical and experiments[157][158]
ArcologyResearch, development, Commercialization
Artificial gravityResearch, developmentSpace Travel
Asteroid miningHypothetical, NASA has announced plans to capture and redirect an asteroid.[159]
Atmospheric carbon dioxide removalResearch and developmentFossil carbon sourcesClimate change mitigation, closing the carbon cycle, input for carbon neutral fuel productionCarbon dioxide removalVirgin Earth Challenge
BiometricsDiffusionKeys and ID documents
BioplasticSome products developedFossil fuel plastics
Cloak of invisibilitySuccessful experiments cloaking small objects under some conditions[160][161]Camouflage[161]Cloaking microscope tips at optical frequencies[161]Metamaterial cloaking
Digital scent technologyDiffusionSmell-O-Vision,iSmell
Domed cityNASA develops ageodesic dome for a moon baseWeather-controlled city, colonization of the moon
Force fieldHypothetical, experiments[162]ArmorMilitary and law enforcement, space travelPlasma window
Immersive virtual realityHypothetical, limited commercializationConsensus realityAn artificial environment where the user feels just as immersed as they usually feel in consensus reality.Virtusphere3rd Space Vest, haptic suit, immersive technology, simulated reality, holodeck(fictional)
Inflatable space habitatDeveloped, prototypes built and testedTraditional “aluminium can” space habitat modulesSpace habitatsBigelow Aerospace
LED lampCommercializationIncandescent lights, compact fluorescent lights
Magnetic levitationResearch, development, Commercialization (Maglev Train)Wheelstires, conventional transportation systemsHigh temperature superconductivitycryogenics, low temperature refrigerators, superconducting magnet design and construction, fiber reinforced plastics for vehicles and structural concretes, communication and high power solid-state controls, vehicle design (aerodynamics and noise mitigation), precision manufacturing, construction and fabrication of concrete structures,[163] maglev car, maglev based spacecraft launchVactrainLevicar
Magnetic refrigerationAlready used for achieving cryogenic temperatures in the laboratory setting (below 10K)Conventional refrigeratorsRefrigeration without the need for compression and with more energy efficient which may be in refrigerators, air conditioners and spacecraft
Magneto-rheological fluiddeveloped and researchedShock absorberMagneto-rheological damper heavy motor damping, operator seat/cab damping in construction vehicles, seismic dampers positioned in building absorbing detrimental shock waves and oscillations within the structure making them earthquake-proof, enhance body armor fluid bullet resistant, Humvees, and various other all-terrain vehicles employ dynamic MR shock absorbers/dampers. Magnetorheological finishing was used in the construction of the Hubble Space Telescope’s corrective lens, shock absorbers of a vehicle’s suspension are filled with magnetorheological fluid.Electro-rheological fluid
Miniaturized satelliteResearch, development, some prototypesConventional satellitesInexpensive satellites, constellations for low data rate communications, using formations to gather data from multiple points, in-orbit inspection of larger satellites.
Synthetic biology, synthetic genomicsResearch, development, first synthetic bacteria created May 2010[164][165]Chemical industry, petroleum industry, process manufacturingCreating infinitely scalable production processes based on programmable species of bacteria and other life formsBioBrickiGEM, synthetic genomics
TricorderResearch and DevelopmentMedical examinationsDiagnosing medical conditionsMedical tricorder
Vehicular communication systemsResearch and development, some diffusionAutomobile safetyvehicle safety obstacle inform others warnings on entering intersections, Traffic management Accommodating ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars to a specific situation such as hot pursuits and bad weather, Driver assistance systems, Automated highways.Artificial Passenger, Dedicated short-range communications, Intelligent transportation system

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