The unknown can be scary, and as technology continues to rapidly evolve, it’s taking us into some uncharted territory. But it’s also improving the way we live, learn and impact our planet.
From our health to our homes, here are five ways tech is shaping our world for the better.
Impactful, personalized education
In today’s diverse classrooms, teaching to the middle can do students a great disservice. It’s one reason personalized education is so important.
To more effectively meet the needs of students with different backgrounds, cultures, interests and skills, teachers are leaning on technology to help refocus their energy and attention on what they do best.
Teachers are leaning on technology to help refocus their energy and attention on what they do best.
But it’s not about replacing teachers with tech. It’s about reducing the time they spend on administrative tasks, so they can have more capacity for relationship building with their students.
With daily tasks like grading, attendance-taking and test-creating off their plate, educators can think critically about which learning tools and education technology gives students more meaningful experiences with the curriculum.
Technology also helps teachers provide students with their individuated attention and empower them to become an active partner in their own learning. Instructors that spend less time teaching by the book can concentrate on developing student’s social-emotional skills and helping them gain access to plentiful content that best captivates their individual interests.
Groundbreaking health advancements
Technology has made all variety of remote work possible, even healthcare professions that used to rely exclusively on in-person interactions. Now, 5G is taking things to a whole new level, providing medical professionals with a hands-off approach for the first time ever.
Last year, the first successful remote surgery took place over a distance of 1,900 miles. And while surgical procedures are rarely considered simple, conducting brain surgery from halfway around the world would have been unfathomable just a short time ago.
Conducting brain surgery from halfway around the world would have been unfathomable just a short time ago.
But thanks to a substantial latency reduction, 5G networks make it possible for devices to instantly communicate over great distances. Suddenly, the potentially fatal two-second lag time that used to exist for medical devices on a regular wireless network has now been compressed into an almost imperceivable two milliseconds.
This evolved technology could ultimately enable specialists all over the world to confer and treat a patient simultaneously. 5G will likely also provide patients in remote areas more options for care and may reduce surgery costs over the long-term.
Coupled with advances in artificial intelligence, medical technology is harnessing its ability to diagnose early and treat more accurately, improving our overall health.
Livable smart cities
What if your neighborhood could automatically monitor and adjust the air quality and noise pollution while using subterraneous robots to deliver the mail and hail you a self-driving electric car?
For “sensing” cities, like Toronto’s Quayside, these are only the beginning.
The project, piloted by Sidewalk Labs, may be the future of urban design. Powered by emerging digital technology and a far-reaching sensor network, this urban-systems planning software aims to rethink the modern metropolitan and build customizable neighborhoods that center on the latest technologies.
The broader goal is to do so while ensuring smart-city communities are also affordable, accessible, and keep an eye on the environment.
Sidewalk Lab’s already maintains a list of future smart-city hopefuls that include Los Angeles, Denver and Boston.
3-D printed tiny homes
Though the technology itself isn’t new, as 3-D printing becomes more cost-efficient and widely available its many applications are making a deep impact on how we manufacture everything from products to entire homes.
Now, 3-D printers capable of creating more substantial materials are entering the market at the $100K price point.
It was once too cost prohibitive to produce anything outside of plastics on a meaningful scale. However, that capacity is quickly changing. Now, 3-D printers capable of creating more substantial materials are entering the market at the $100K price point.
With metals and concrete now on the docket, well-meaning housing initiatives are popping up all over. As Freshome reports, “Icon has partnered with New Story, a charity dedicated to ending homelessness by providing shelter in distressed and poor communities, to print 800-square-foot houses in under a day for roughly $4,000.”
Other homes have been printed using sustainable bio-plastic that can be moved, recycled or reused again and again, making them ideal for post-disaster temporary housing.
Smart sprinklers that help conserve water based on rainfall. Digital devices that can learn your habits and power down appliances when not in use. Text communication from your fridge telling you to order a replacement part instead of sending the whole thing off to a landfill. These are but a few of the positive environmental impacts tech can tackle.
Technology also enables the data collection needed to help curb food waste and get fresh produce into the hands of those who need it.
On an individual level, a smart fridge could warn the household as products are approaching their sell by date and suggest a recipe.
On an individual level, a smart fridge could warn the household as products are approaching their sell by date and suggest a recipe. Thinking larger scale, the analytics collected from grocery stores and restaurants could be used to combat food insecurity by communicating to charities and community partners that a surplus is available. Biofuel digesters are also evolving rapidly, providing renewable energy from discarded organic waste.
The world is a complicated place. But used right, tech can be really simple. The more thoughtfully we apply it, the more meaningful the results will be. And we’ve only just scratched the surface of how good it can get.