Disruptive technology examples - what's beyond the horizon?

16 May 2019

In our report, Tides of Disruption: How to navigate business transformation, we explore the five disruptive technology examples which are set to cause a seismic shift globally. AI, blockchain, hybridity, autonomy and 5G are triggering a shift which will see businesses being disruptive and disrupted into making bold strategic decisions over the next ten years.

To reach these five forces of disruption, we analysed a range of emerging technologies through an extensive literature review of publicly available analysis and forecasts, together with examining the development of these trends over a 10-year horizon scan to identify the key disruption points and landmarks on a digitalisation timeline.

However, while it is important that businesses pay close attention to the identified five technological forces in the here and now, it is equally important that they also keep an eye on the innovations that are just beyond the horizon.

In this article, building upon the "Beyond the Horizon" chapter within our report, we delve into the workings of three more future technologies which, while not predicted to have a significant impact on businesses across the next ten years, are set to make their mark on the world post 2030.

Examples of disruptive technology that will impact businesses in the future

Biometric and Human Augmentation Technologies

At their most basic level, biometric technologies will allow for better measurement of the processes going on within our bodies. Applications for these technologies are widespread.

Within healthcare, biometric measurement could better indicate risk factors for disease or provide early indication of sudden, emergency events like heart attacks or strokes. Combined with the Internet of Things (IoT) and ubiquitous connectivity, you could be diagnosed with an imminent heart attack, an ambulance dispatched and be under medical care before you have even had it.

There are similar applications for the insurance industry; telemetry is already in use to adjust car insurance premiums, but biometric technology, which could monitor consumption and exercise, could revolutionise how health and life insurance is bought and sold.

Augmentation, whether through cultured or artificial tissue, smart prosthetics, or Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) further in the future, will be driven by research in the scientific and medical community. There will be commercial applications that emerge from these technologies. BCI technologies are potentially capable of allowing voice, gesture or touch-free instructions to IoT networks, allowing humans to communicate wirelessly with their networked infrastructure.

Augmentation, in particular, could contribute to the blurring of the boundaries between the biological and technological realm, and IoT will gradually fade into the background of our daily lives - a sign of its sophistication and proliferation. Meanwhile the technological augmentation of human beings could see the binary distinction between humanity and technology disappear entirely.

Smart Dust

Smart Dust devices are small, wireless, microelectromechanical sensors that can detect miniscule state changes in light, temperature and vibration and transmit them throughout a wireless network by combining sensing, computing and power supply within just millimetres of volume. Better informing digital replicas by combining visual representation with information on temperature or revolutions per minute. Beyond these industrial applications, theorised applications for Smart Dust include 'virtual keyboards' where a dust node on each fingertip renders the keyboard and mouse redundant, enabling product quality monitoring and inventory control.

4D Printing

3D printing - or additive manufacturing - takes a digital blueprint and transforms it into a physical object by adding layer upon layer of plastic in a volumetric printing process. 4D printing represents the next step in the development of this technology, using special materials and sophisticated designs which are programmed to prompt printed shapes to change based on specific criteria, triggered by water, heat, wind or other forms of energy.

The concept is relatively simple and the applications are very broad. Logistics companies transporting vast quantities of boxes may require humans to break down and store the boxes for the next time they're needed. In the dark factories of the future, temperature-controlled environments inhabited only by robots could raise or lower temperatures in order to automatically fold and reassemble boxes, removing one human-led stage of the current logistics process. 4D printed valves could open or close as the speed of liquid travelling through it changes, preventing oil spills like that of Deepwater Horizon - 4D printed clothing could change composition with the weather, and the soles of shoes could change in their firmness depending on the type of activity you are performing.

To learn more about the five forces of disruption and the technologies which are set to further disrupt businesses beyond 2030, download our report Tides of Disruption: How to navigate business transformation.

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