IDTechEx Research addresses global megatrends
Juli 07, 2015
We are sometimes asked how we choose the topics in which we specialise. There are several answers but certainly we choose topics that overlap and address the major technological and societal megatrends of this century. Four particularly come to mind.
Firstly, there is the technological megatrend of ubiquitous electronics. In 1991, Mark Weiser wrote of, "The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life", ending his piece by seeking, "Machines that fit the human environment, instead of forcing humans to enter theirs, will make using a computer as refreshing as taking a walk in the woods". It was later expanded by Dr Neil Gershenfeld of MIT as "Things That Think" in his seminal book in 1999 and by various meanings for the term "Internet of Things" since then. Terms such as "ubiquitous electronics" and "ubiquitous computing", "embedded systems" and "smart materials" have acquired various meanings in this general context. It is now happening big time and it benefits from such technologies as structural electronics and e-textiles. We help you navigate through them from a marketing and technical standpoint that is applications oriented.
Secondly and thirdly we also address the more visible megatrends that must be tackled such as pollution control and resource control leading to electric vehicles, energy harvesting, new materials and components. We encourage more economical use of resources, for example by printing electronics and electrics and other additive processes such as 3D printing, including the new 3D printing of electronics and electrics.
For example, here is our vision of some of the current and future prospects for energy harvesting with boats, ships and aircraft. It combines to make a large new market for functional materials, components and systems employing new production technologies such as printed electronics, new sensors and e-textiles, all a focus of IDTechEx techno-marketing research conducted worldwide. There is always something to add: for example, the aircraft graphic omits the new Airborne Wind Energy AWE creating up to hundreds of kilowatts on land using tethered electric Unmanned Aerial Vehicles UAVs.
However, there is a disturbing recurrence of toxic materials in some forms of new electronics and electrics from quantum dot displays to skutterudite thermoelectrics and perovskite or CdTe photovoltaics and this must be dealt with where it is a problem. There is also too much use of scarce materials subject to price hikes such as cobalt in lithium-ion batteries, platinum in fuel cells and printed precious metals. We try to assist with this green agenda.
Fourthly, the ageing of population cuts across a lot of this and it is another issue that will remain in 100 years from now. How do we keep the elderly healthy, happy and productive? That leads us back to the Internet of Things, new components on and in the human body and more variety and abundance of electric vehicles, entertainment and advanced medicine based on ubiquitous electronics, much of it disposable yet environmental. IDTechEx is constantly on the lookout for the "next big thing" and we delight in bringing together disparate groups that can unite to a common agenda of creating the future. We try to see that future.