Published on September 4th, 2015 | by Andrea Bertoli2
What is Disruptive Technology?
Disruptive technology is a term that’s been tossed about in the past few years to describe apps, gadgets, innovations, and processes that change how we do things. Disruptive technology is changing our lives on a daily basis in exciting and amazing ways, and in this post we’ll talk about what is disruptive technology, how we can make the best of it in our lives, some examples of our favorites, and what to look for in the next few years.
What is Disruptive Technology?
As usual, Wikipedia sums it up the best:
“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.”
Some technologies and innovations that seem commonplace now have actually dramatically changed the face of how things are done. Examples like Google Docs, Airbnb and carsharing apps changed how working, travel and transport gets done within just a few short years. These changes are being seen around the world, and there is so much growth happening under this huge umbrella. Living in San Francisco makes it seem like there is literally an app or innovation for everything from dog walking to cooking service. This constant innovation makes it seem like everything in our lives will be improved by technology the very near future. Here’s a look at some of the 15 exciting ideas in disruptive tech.
15 Awesome Disruptive Technologies
These are just some of the disruptive technologies that will shape our present and our future:
1. Battery storage: storing energy generated from renewable energy sources is helpful for homes, business and vehicles. Building this industry will change how all energy systems move into the future. Battery storage innovation gives us the opportunity to leave fossil fuel industries, quite literally, in the dust.
2. Genomics: playing with genes in both plants and animals is going to change how science and medicine is done, for better or worse. Fortune says, “[DNA] Sequencing systems could eventually become so commonplace that doctors will have them on their desktops.” We’re not big fans of the current uses of genomics for genetically-modified foods, but this could potentially be a promising field for other applications.
3. Advanced materials, like nanomaterials and other materials altered on the genetic level, look like they are going to be the next big thing. Fortune says, “advanced nanomaterials show promise for improving health, and even treating cancer. Coming soon: materials that are self-healing, self-cleaning, and that remember their original shape even if they’re bent.”
4. Autonomous (self-driving) cars are changing the way we see driving, shopping, travel and everything else. Learn more about self-driving cars here on Gas2.
5. The internet of fitness: Forbes explains that, “There’s been an explosion since last year of new vendors and new applications that collect, report, and respond to information from the user’s own body, a trend that is sometimes referred to as ‘the quantified self.'” Things like FitBit might not be world changing, but this field includes helpful tech like hearing aids and sleep sensors.
6. Renewable energy innovations: whether its wind turbines, solar power, hydropower or the dozens of other ways to generate electricity without using the polluting fossil fuels, we support it, and are stoked to see it here on Fortune’s list. Learn more about renewable energy here[need new link to PHU stuff].
7. Advanced robots: the idea that robots will take over our jobs has been a collective fear for generations, but perhaps now it might be coming true…? Looks like robots could potentially take over our physical jobs, but also our thinking jobs too as computers become more and more intelligent.
8. Welcome to the virtual (or augmented) world: Forbes explains that burgeoning technologies for augmented reality can change how we (literally) see the world. “Whether in the form of virtual reality goggles and earphones that provide immersive gaming experiences, or superimposed displays that augment the view out a car window, the continued decline in price, size, and power requirements for basic computing components continues to spark revolutionary change in the world of sensory input.”
9. Another technology that’s growing by leaps and bounds everyday is 3-d printing. This has the potential to change everything about how business is done. “[This] much-hyped additive manufacturing has yet to replace traditional manufacturing technologies, but that could change as systems get cheaper and smarter,” says Fortune.
10. The mobile internet: as increasing numbers of people jump online with mobile phones, it is set to change how everything from farming to shopping is handled around the world.
11. The internet of things: a catchy term that means simply our lives will become increasingly connected as our homes, clothing, accessories and cars become connected to the internet, generating data and connecting us to our stuff in unfathomable ways.
12. A life of apps: app usage grew by 76% in 2014, and it shows no signs of slowing. TechCrunch says the growth is not just new apps, but how users are choosing to engage with their mobile devices. As our comfort level grows, we are more likely to shop, bank, travel and plan everything with our devices.
13. Cloud technology: gone are the days of server rooms and floppy disks. Cloud storage of data allows small companies to compete on a more level playing field and gives us the chance to move even more of our lives online.
14. Often seen on lists of disruptive tech is the improved oil and gas technologies that pull fossil fuels out of ever-harder to reach places– but we don’t think this fits the definition of disruptive at all! Oil and gas companies have been exploiting our resources for decades trying to get at harder to reach fuel reserves, and even though the technology is improving, the knowledge that fossil fuels are the leading contributor to climate change is growing faster. We all know that fracking is dangerous for groundwater and is causing earthquakes, and that deep oil drilling has terrible consequences for the land and the ocean. The only ‘disruption’ that improved extraction offers is increased damage to our planet.
15. Which leads us to energy efficiency tech: items like plug-load sensors, which help reduce the amount of ‘vampire power’ used by gadgets and electronics (which make up about 15% of a gadget’s electricity use). Other cool clean tech gadgets include a ‘smart outlet‘ allowing it to shut off power to electronics, the Nest learning thermostat which helps you reduce energy and control your home from afar, and surfaces that help charge your car while you’re on the go, to help us rely less on the outdated electricity grid.
How Can Disruptive Technology Shape the Future?
Not only can disruptive tech change our lives, it’s pretty easy to see how this technology is going to play a huge role in renewable energy and climate change mitigation. And as reported by Tina Casey on Clean Technica, there is big money behind it. She reports that, “To the tune of $125 million, the Department [of Energy] is providing funds to kickstart disruptive technology for next-generation wind solar, wind, and geothermal energy technologies.”
But behind it all is the innovation that forms the basis for the majority of technology we have at our disposal: the internet. According to an article in Time, Ben Bajarin, partner at Creative Strategies and Tech.pinions co-founder, believes that as unprecedented numbers of people get online for the first time within these next few years, it will have “disruptive global implications.” He thinks that, “technology-enabled social change [as] people in repressed countries get more access to information via the Internet. And Internet-connected smartphones could help people conduct commerce and run their businesses, potentially increasing their earning ability.”
As we become increasingly intimate with our internet, our mobile devices, and our ever-more tech based lives, there seems to be truly unbound potential for innovation. What does the future of technology hold for us today, tomorrow and beyond?
lightbulb image from Shutterstock