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Op-Ed: Digital recap: 2018’s top technology stories

Forecasting the future of technology is a tough task and many inventions are born in the laboratory and never make it into the consumer market; however, others succeed and become mainstream. Time will tell what happens with Digital Journal’s big pick of 2018’s top technology news stories.

Robot inspired by origami

In January we posted news about a new millimeter-scale robot built by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. The robot is a type of “Delta Robot”, having three individually controlled and lightweight arms. The key design feature is the use of parallelograms in the arms, inspired by origami. The development is set to up new avenues for microsurgery, microassembly, and micromanipulation.

Toronto takes the tech lead

Toronto s talent is booming.

Toronto’s talent is booming.

We’ve run a few stories about the technology boom in Canada and Toronto specifically. In February, as an example, we featured a string of recent developments that are re-invigorating the city. Over the past five years, the technology scene in Toronto has expanded rapidly. This is partly the outcome of the policies of the Canadian government, which has sought to lay the foundations for a startup ecosystem, plus support from universities and industry. You can read about these here.

IoT is helping to build the smart city

A depiction of a smart city  created on November 22  2015.

A depiction of a smart city, created on November 22, 2015.
Capankajsmilyo

2018 has seen a number of Internet of Things innovations and some of these are helping to channel the smart city concept. In March we looked at an alternative approach to city security based on an Internet of Things smart city video security solution, which offers a ‘security solution without surveillance’.

Remote working

A man using his laptop PC

A man using his laptop PC
Ed Yourdon

The world of work continues to change, and one example is remote (and by implication, flexible working. This form of working is particularly attractive to millennials. With the use of remote technology comes the need for new ways to structure the working day and to keep motivation levels high. During April we took in some important tips around setting objectives, defining expectations, and maintaining employee-manager relationships.

Blockchain can reduce the cost of medicines

Blockchain marketing platforms are on the way

Blockchain marketing platforms are on the way
energepic.com / Pexels

If there is a technology buzzword for 2018 it is ‘blockchain’ and numerous examples were featured in Digital Journal articles. In selecting one, as featured in May, we’ve looked at something that can assist with the collective good. This is how blockchain can help with the lowering of the cost of medicines, through enabling greater transparency and minimizing the entry of counterfeit goods into the market.

Smart cities

A Smart Car in Belfast  Northern Ireland.

A Smart Car in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Slabby

Do we need smart cities? There is emerging research that says that the true ‘smart city’ will improve the quality of your life, through greater connectivity (provided privacy concerns can be addressed). In June we took in a survey from INFINITI Canada, which found that most Canadian millennials believe in the potential of smart cities, especially with technology like electric vehicles, autonomous driving, and ridesharing that could improve their daily lives.

Fintech

The Revolut card pictured alongside the app in action.

The Revolut card pictured alongside the app in action.
Revolut / Business Insider

The year has seen a number of innovations with fintech, some of which are deploying artificial intelligence. As an example of this for July we looked at how several Indian banks, including state-owned SBI and Bank of BarodaNSE, have begun deploying artificial intelligence in order to improve efficiency and predict customer behavior.

3D imaging technology

Archaeologists digging at the end of the tunnel that may lead to a royal tomb under the city of Teot...

Archaeologists digging at the end of the tunnel that may lead to a royal tomb under the city of Teotihuacan.
Cosmos news

With August’s pick the story is about how computational photographic methods are being used by archaeologists to help capture the past, where digital process reveal more detail than is possible using conventional equipment. Such a finding can help to protect sites of special interest.

Bionic eye

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have fully 3D printed an image sensing array on a hemisph...

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have fully 3D printed an image sensing array on a hemisphere, which is a first-of-its-kind prototype for a “bionic eye.”
University of Minnesota, McAlpine Group

Medical technology is the selection from September. Here we reported how scientists from the University of Minnesota used a custom-built 3D printer, and a base ink of silver particles, as the basis for successfully 3D printing an array of light receptors on a hemispherical surface to be used with bionic eyes.

Smart glasses provide subtitles for theater goers

Man using Google Glass

Man using Google Glass
Kārlis Dambrāns

For those with impaired hearing subtitles for movies and television programs open up a rich stream of entertainment. Going to the theater has been challenging, until now. As we reported in October, at the U.K.’s National Theater, smart glasses are being tested to assist the hard of hearing to enjoy the stage by screening dialogue.

Facial recognition

A member of the Los Lobos inmate rugby team scores a try against the rival Tatuyes during the Penite...

A member of the Los Lobos inmate rugby team scores a try against the rival Tatuyes during the Penitentiary Rugby Tournament in Venezuela
Yuri CORTEZ, AFP

We’ve run several stories looking at facial recognition technology – a technology that has its supporters and detractors. For November’s selection we found out that facial recognition technology is to be used at the 2019 rugby world cup supplied by NEC, for security purposes.

Environment

For December we’ve picked an environmental technology story, looking at how technology can assist with smart carbon capture. Researchers from Tokyo Institute of Technology proposed an innovative way to achieve carbon capture using a rhenium-based electrocatalytic system. This could potentially enable the direct utilization of carbon dioxide in exhaust gases from heavy industries.

For 2019 Digital Journal will continue to run technology stories, with a focus on how technologies fit with digital transformation initiatives across a range of business, industrial and health related fields. Be sure to check out Digital Journal’s technology page.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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