Visions of the Technological Future
As technology evolves at an ever-increasing rate, the future draws nearer. An 11-year-old today is expected to see a 64-fold increase in computing power by the time they finish high school. From global internet connectivity to smart phones, the incredible innovations from the last few decades have become building blocks to transform life as we know it. Now, as society grows increasingly smart and connected, new possibilities are accessible for pioneering minds to shape the future.
At Waters, our focus has always been on pioneering innovations for the benefit of human health and well-being. As the world continues to evolve in 2020 and beyond, the application of fit-for-purpose analytical technologies will be imperative, and at Waters, innovation continues to be our focus.
So, what is next? Let’s take a closer look at some of the technologies that promise to shape the next 10 years.
Enhanced imaging technologies emerging onto the market
In the medical industry, imaging technologies save lives by helping to diagnose diseases and aid the development of new therapies. In the future, advances in 3D imaging and improvements in the speed of image acquisition are expected to take off. The progress achieved in imaging technology will assist scientists in putting together a more complete picture of diseases and ultimately benefit patients worldwide. The field is also expected to shift toward increased portability of medical imaging instrumentation, with smaller ultrasound devices already on the market that can provide Color-flow Doppler imaging powered solely by batteries. [2-3]
Waters is the sole source provider of Desorption Electrospray Ionization (DESI) Imaging technologies. Combined with MALDI Imaging and ion mobility mass spectrometry (IMS-MS) techniques, our Full Spectrum Molecular Imaging capabilities allow the visualization of a wider range of molecular ions and provide key insights into the underlying mechanisms of cancer, cardiovascular and neuro-degenerative diseases.
Technology evolving to keep up with food fraud
With the food supply chain growing increasingly global, issues arising from food fraud and food adulteration – the process of incorporating cheaper additives into products to drive costs down – are not expected to go away. Following widely publicized investigations into occurrences of food fraud (including the 2013 horse meat scandal in which supermarket beef across the EU was found to contain horse meat) consumers are demanding higher food safety and authenticity standards. With this in mind, the field is expected to go increasingly digital, phasing out paper-based checks and records. Automation of monitoring is a further advancement on the horizon that is expected to increase efficiency and reduce human error. Blockchain, effectively a “digital ledger”, is also expected to be adopted more widely in the industry to improve traceability of food products. [4-7]
Food fraud and authenticity are also growing focus areas in analytical testing. As the food supply chain becomes more complex, tracing the sources of adulteration and/or contamination pose a significant challenge for the food industry. Waters provides effective solutions including chromatography, mass spectrometry, column & sample prep chemistries, and data management software for the determination of food adulteration, authenticity, and origin to combat this growing concern.
Organoids will revolutionize drug development
The progress made in the development of stem cell-derived organoids was a defining feature of the 2010s. Circumventing the need for animal testing in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, organoids mimic human organs to provide highly accurate results during drug R&D. Supported by advances in 3D cell culture techniques to further reduce expense and the need for preclinical testing procedures, the market growth for organoids is consequently predicted to surge in the coming years. Organoids may even replace conventional research and drug discovery methods, changing the face of R&D in the pharmaceutical industry irrevocably. [8-9]
An industry shift towards sustainability and improved durability
In the wake of increasing environmental awareness, it is expected that in the coming decade green technologies will help accelerate the rate of change. Innovations predicted to take off in the future are varied, including regenerative and recyclable batteries. Further trends in the technological industry include finding new ways to capture and store carbon waste and increasing efficiency to reduce environmental toll.
Perhaps most significant however, are changing attitudes within the manufacturing industry, moving away from petroleum-based polymers to those of biodegradable bio-based polymers. Increasingly, in order to eliminate waste, recycling and recirculating materials will shift design principles towards easier disassembly and manufacturing products with greater durability. [10-12] At Waters, we take pride in developing the tools which accelerate these new technological advancements and our commitment to sustainability is rooted in how we Deliver Benefit.
Facing the future with clear vision
With the pace of technological change increasing exponentially, it is important for industry leaders to clear their vision and find the path to innovation.
Whether it’s discovering new pharmaceuticals, assuring the safety of the world’s food and water supplies, or ensuring the integrity of a chemical entity in production, the scientific experts at Waters are constantly working with our 40,000+ customers to change the world. In this new decade as in all others, we are prepared to work with innovators to meet new challenges and grasp opportunities to develop the next-generation technology the world needs.
With clear understanding and foresight, together we can take one step closer to achieving our visions of the technological future.