Emerging technologies outlook: Chapter-3
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
In this chapter we will review emerging technologies into energy, finance and healthcare sectors:
Alternative battery tech
Alternative battery technology is an industry based in the development of improvements or alternatives to the traditional, lithium-ion battery. Companies in this space are typically working on improvements and alternatives that involve new materials incorporating advances in chemistry and material sciences.
Batteryless IoT sensors
Batteryless Internet of things (IoT) sensors draw power from their environment—either through electromagnetic signals or small solar cells—and enable IoT sensing in low-power environments. Companies in this space are developing batteryless and no-maintenance sensing solutions for the fundamental limitations of batteries.
Carbon capture and removal
Carbon capture and removal refers to the process of actively capturing carbon atoms and removing them from the atmosphere via storage or utilization in other forms. Technologies in this category are centered on climate change mitigation and include afforestation, biochar, carbon sequestration and direct air capture.
Example: CO2 Solutions
Energy storage technologies improve our ability to store energy for use on-demand, especially as sources of energy expand into renewables. Companies in this space use many approaches, like batteries, thermal, pumped hydropower and other mechanical storage methods.
Fusion energy is a proposed form of power generation that would use heat from nuclear fusion reactions to generate electricity. It has the potential to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels, but the core technology is still theoretical and many startups in the space are focused on finding pragmatic applications of the underlying theory.
Companies in this space are developing methods, machines and materials to harness the power of hydrogen to generate energy. Its zero-emission output and high energy density make hydrogen a promising energy source, but companies are still looking for a way to reduce the cost of production.
Example: Plug Power
Lithium extraction technology
Companies in the lithium extraction technology space are developing novel solutions to the problem of mining lithium. Historical approaches are too slow and use an unsustainable amount of water, but newer solutions propose to mine at greater yields with less water and often in areas previously considered inaccessible.
Example: Lilac Solutions
Renewable ocean energy
Renewable ocean energy describes efforts to generate electricity from the ocean using waves, tides, salination and temperature differences. The movement of water in the world’s oceans offer an untapped source of kinetic energy that companies in this space hope to capture. Currently, companies are testing competing iterations of technologies while working toward bringing costs of ocean power down to compete with wind and solar.
The smart grid refers to digital technology that allows for two-way communication between power utilities and their customers, enabling the more efficient transmission of electricity.
Example: Power Ledger
Small modular reactors
Small modular reactors (SMRs) are nuclear reactors designed with modular technology using module factory fabrication, pursuing economies of series production and short construction times. The small size of these reactors makes them easier to construct, safer and more easily deployed to remote areas that have intense energy needs.
Example: Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises
Banking as a service
Banking as a service (or BaaS) encompasses technologies that enable non-banks to offer core banking services like deposits, checking and savings accounts or loans to end-users. BaaS companies allow third parties to connect with banks’ systems via application programming interface (API) to build banking offerings on top of already regulated infrastructure.
Conversational banking includes platforms that facilitate consumer interactions through voice, text or other visual interfaces—typically with a non-human—to conduct banking queries and transactions.
Decentralized finance encompasses conventional financial tools and services built on blockchain. Companies in this space develop open lending protocols, insurance and investing platforms, decentralized prediction markets and other blockchain-based alternatives to traditional finance.
Microinsurance providers offer flexible, consumer-centric insurance products. Traditionally, modes of microinsurance—like microloans and microcredit—is thought of as a product for people in developing areas, but this space also encompasses companies innovating in personalized, micro-policy plans that cover international travel, cycling, fitness, mobile and other niche policies.
Anti-aging companies research and develop restorative treatments to combat the effects of aging and increase lifespan. Research areas include genomic instability, epigenetic alteration, stem cell exhaustion and more.
Example: Scholar Rock
Assistive technologies are equipment, software, or products used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. A new wave of companies in this space are using emerging technologies like VR/AR, AI and robotics to jumpstart innovation.
Fertility technologies are creating tech-oriented medical solutions for couples struggling to conceive. These technologies include sperm and egg freezing services, hormone testing systems and monitoring platforms.
Example: Future Family
Gene therapies insert sections of DNA into a patient’s cells to correct damaged or abnormal genes. Gene therapies are an exciting advancement because researchers in the space could eventually lead to cures for cancer, HIV and heart disease.
Medical exoskeletons and prosthetics
Medical exoskeletons and prosthetics companies develop mechanically powered prothesis and exoskeletons to be used for medical purposes.
Example: ReWalk Robotics
Medical robotics are robots used in healthcare settings with the benefit of providing services more precisely or consistently than human doctors could. Applications include surgeries, rehabilitation, telepresence, transportation and general patient care.
Example: Intuitive Surgical
Mental health tech
Mental health technology companies develop software and hardware solutions to help individuals take better care of their mental health and enable practitioners to better monitor the mental health of their patients.
Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology—from the medical application of nanomaterials and biological devices to nanoelectronic biosensors.
Neurotechnologiesseek to improve or modify our understanding of cognitive function, including consciousness and thought. In patients, its distinct technologies—including brain-machine interfaces, neural implants, neuromonitoring, neurostimulation, and neuroprosthetics—are used to restore, improve, or alter typical brain function.
Sleep technologies encompass a variety of technologies whose goals are to improve the quality of a person’s sleep. Examples of sleep technology include tracking sensors, smart mattresses and sleep-monitoring headbands.
Companies in this space use virtual reality (VR) to provide innovative therapies and treatments to various healthcare issues. Uses of VR in healthcare include education, therapy, rehabilitation and even mindfulness.