5 TED Talks Envisioning The Future of Technology

I wonder who hasn’t heard of TED. Incase there’s someone who hasn’t, TED is a conference run by Sapling foundation. It was founded in 1984 by Richard Saul Wurman and his partners. While the early focus was on design and technology (TED actually stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design) today it covers a wide range of topics. Technology however still is a hot topic.

This post if basically a list of a few TED talks that showcase some really promising technologies potentially changing the way education, aviation, healthcare. telecommunication and pretty much the entire world will work.

1. Manu Prakash: A 50-cent microscope that folds like origami.

Diseases like Malaria, TB, Giardiasis etc are still prevalent in the world. Especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. A large chunk of diagnosis for these diseases depends upon the use of microscopes. As traditional microscopes are bulky, costly and not built for field tests, it becomes quite a challenge in developing countries. Hence, Manu Prakash and his team, have developed foldscopes – microscopes that are made of paper, are extremely cheap, waterproof, rugged and yet perform all the functions of a tradition microscope. A single microscope cost about 50cents and is as large as an A4 sheet paper before assembly (it gets smaller post assembly).


2. Harald Haas: Wireless data from every light bulb

This innovative concept is based on a technology we have been using for years – the technology used in our TV remotes – transfer data via light. While traditional TV remotes depend upon infrared signals and transfer very little data at a given time. Harald Haas’ concept used traditional LED bulbs that would help transfer data at a very high speed. He calls this technology LiFi . So far it has been able to accomplish speeds of upto 10GBPS.


3. A robot that flies like a bird

A 6:19 TED talk with 2 standing ovations. Markus Fischer and his team have been studying birds to understand and recreate the agility they possess during flight. This study resulted in the creation of “SmartBird” , a robot that’s able to fly exactly like a bird . This invention has helped better understand how aerodynamics and lightweight material and design can be developed.


4. Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

It all started when Salman Khan – A former hedge fund analyst was teaching his cousin mathematics using yahoo doodle’s notepad. As his audience increased he moved to YouTube which then gained even more traction. Eventually he founded Khan Academy and has even been on the list of 100 most influential people in 2012 on the time magazine.


5. New Bionics Let Us Run, Climb and Dance | Hugh Herr

Hugh Herr lost both his legs in 1982 due to frostbite due to mountain climbing accident. He is now a professor and also heads the Biomechatronics research group at MIT. He and his team have developed a range of Bionic Limbs. Artificial Limbs that in some cases are better than their natural counterparts. The best of part of this video is in the end where a girl demonstrates the power of these limbs by dancing using one of them.


6. How algorithms shape our world – Kevin Slavin

Kevin Slavin shows us how algorithms are not only shaping the virtual world, but also the real world. With an example where algorithmic trading and algorithms like the carnival, boston shuffler etc have contributed to reshaping of mountains, he effectively demonstrates how our physical world has been changing because of algorithms.

I believe what we see here, is just the tip of an iceberg. With the way technology is changing, there’s really an infinite list of things we could (reasonably) expect even from the near future.

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