This is a guest post by Missi Winterburn.
New technology is constantly being developed to solve all kinds of problems, from making our everyday life easier to truly revolutionizing the way we interact with the world around us. Social media is undoubtedly one of these developments, and when harnessed in the right way can offer excellent reach and communication for non profit organizations and charities. Because communication is so fundamental to organizing and impacting positive change, it’s important that we share some of the newest, most promising technological developments that could impact our quality of medical care, long term sustainability and access to clean water.
The Nanotube Sponge
Developed last year, the carbon nanotube sponge has some very interesting properties, and huge potential for limiting environmental disasters such as oils spills and providing access to clean drinking water. The sponge itself is made of carbon nanotubes which are essentially sheets of carbon rolled into cylinders. The sheets themselves are only an atom thick. Being made of almost pure carbon, the sponge naturally repels water, but attracts oil. As a result, this material could prove invaluable when it comes to cleaning up oil spills, and elegantly simple approach. Furthermore, the sponge itself is magnetic, which offers some options as to how these might be deployed in a large scale, and recovered. Additionally, the sponges are extremely durable and resistant to burning, which makes them have a long life span. It is also being explored as to how this technology might be further developed to allow the filtration of microbes and harmful bacteria from unsafe drinking water. Currently, this is being explored by coating more traditional polyurethane with carbon nanotubes, and additionally with silver nanowires. The sponges then form a very good conductor, and can cleanse contaminated drinking water with a very low voltage input.
One of the major problems that medical staff often face, especially doctors, is having enough time to get around and visit all their patients. Robot avatars have been developed to enable doctors to interact with patients and do their rounds while being somewhere else entirely. There are currently around seven hospitals in the US making use of the avatars, and one hospital in Northern Ireland is also implementing the technology. This enables doctors to focus on attending to patients from any point in the hospital, while still retaining the advantage of face to face contact and direct communication, in essence. The avatar, developed by iRobot, is still relatively new, but is likely to see more widespread use in the future. Additionally, the advantage of using the avatar is that the doctor has access to volumes of medical documents and information while communicating with the patient directly, but it is not the only new medical technology being developed. According to Licensed Prescriptions, along with some of the other advances in the field, we could see the way we receive care in hospitals become much more efficient – and this could lead to better, faster diagnosis and result in saving more lives.
The concept and development of 3-D printers has been around for a few years now, but the current advances and implications are staggering. While the basic technology has in fact been around since the 1980s, recent developments have led to major breakthroughs in efficiency and practical application. One of the most fundamental aspects of 3-D printing is that it generates zero waste, and when paired with sustainable materials truly offers a fantastic option for ecologically sounds manufacturing. Not only that, it could completely revolutionize the way we manufacture anything and everything. Currently, 3-D printers can make just about anything you can imagine, from chocolate to glass, titanium to nylon. Once the technology becomes widely available, we could see a huge reduction in manufacturing waste and energy usage, not to mention that almost anyone will be able to print extremely complex and detailed products.
These are just some of the truly innovative and potentially groundbreaking technologies that are becoming a force for good in the modern world. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we can expect to see many more in the coming years, whether in the form of ‘hard’ tech such as robot avatars, or innovations in accessibility to communications and social platforms. All of these offer us great potential to help shape the world into a better, fairer and more sustainable place.