There have been many inventions and innovations in the last year that might intrigue you and surprise you. Technology is producing some gadgets and machines that can do what has been impossible until now. Many of these are still in the development and testing phases, but we can expect to see more new and exciting inventions either as direct consumer products or incorporated into our phones, computers, and cars in the coming months and years. Here is a look at four exciting technology inventions from 2018 picked from a range of industries.
Synapses in the body allow nerve cells or neurons to pass signals to other cells. A recent innovation looks to create an electronic synapse that is much more efficient and faster than natural ones. In fact, these artificial synapses might be able to send signals about a few million times faster.
You may be wondering what applications these electronic synapses could have. The inventors are looking at utilizing this technology to construct artificial neural networks. These could support low-power artificial intelligence (AI) chips, among other things. While still under development, these chips could have many applications.
The technology was built by researchers at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. Besides the impressive firing speed, these magnetically controlled synapses also use a small amount of energy—1000th of the energy used by synapses in the body and much less than other artificial synapses.
Group Brain-to-brain Communication
Technology has been making communication simpler and more efficient. While the magical ability to communicate with other people directly through thoughts has not been proven scientifically, researchers have come up with a very close approximation.
In 2015, a group of scientists from the University of Washington in Seattle designed electronic gear to enable two people to communicate directly, brain-to-brain. The technology used tools to read the electronic activity in the brain and then transmit it to the next person. Their tests proved successful, and they didn’t stop working to expand the gear’s capability.
Just last year, the same Seattle team brought out an updated device that allows three people to communicate brain-to-brain. Although this still in the emerging technologies category, it could be instrumental in future applications of group communication.
We are now more aware of how valuable a resource energy is. We can expect more innovations to help conserve energy, reduce energy losses, and generate additional energy from unlikely sources. One of the technologies hoping to do this comes in the form of electricity-generating boots.
Different players are toying with this idea of having our shoes create electrical energy with each step. Considering that energy cannot be created from nowhere but can only be transformed from one form to another according to the laws of thermodynamics, this makes a lot of sense. People use stored chemical energy from the food they eat to power their movements. As they walk, energy is used and lost. Finding a way to use the repeated movements to generate even a small bit of electricity could be the beginning of something big. The electrical energy generated could be used to power small communication devices.
Electric Planes with No Moving Parts
Last year, the first electric plane with no moving parts made its first flight. Usually, planes are designed with many moving parts. These include turbines and propellers and are crucial for the plane to maintain its flight. The new design was created by MIT researchers. The 5.4-pound test plane uses a high-voltage electric field and aerodynamics to give it thrust. The design can be built upon to create quieter, low-emission planes.