List of emerging technologies

This is a list of emerging technologies, in-development technical innovations with significant potential in their applications. The criteria for this list is that the technology must:

  1. Exist in some way; purely hypothetical technologies cannot be considered emerging and should be covered in the list of hypothetical technologies instead. However, technologies being actively researched and prototyped are acceptable.
  2. Have a Wikipedia article or adjacent citation covering them.
  3. Not be widely used yet. Mainstream or extensively commercialized technologies can no longer be considered emerging.

Agriculture

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Agricultural robotics[1] Research and development, trial projects Automation of agriculture Agricultural drone
Closed ecological systems Research and development,[2][3][4] working demonstrators (e.g. Biosphere 2) Agriculture, scientific research, space colonization Greenhouse, Eden Project, Bioshelter, Seawater greenhouse
Cultured meat Research and development[5][6] Humane, resource-efficient, healthier, and cheaper meat[6] New Harvest
Vertical farming Research, development, experiments, and diffusion[7][8][9] Space-efficient farming[8]

Construction

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Active structure Research, development, commercialization Adaptive structures that respond to different conditions, or supermassive buildings and infrastructure (e.g. space fountains)
Arcology Research, development, commercialization
Domed city Planned feature for Mall of the World[citation needed] Weather-controlled city, colonization of other celestial bodies

Electronics, IT, and communications

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
6G cellular communications[10] Conceptual Mobile phones
Artificial general intelligence Hypothetical, experiments[11][12][13] Creating intelligent devices and robots; AI can counsel (or even take charge) in scientific projects, government, army, corporate governance, film and books creation, inventions etc. Progress in artificial intelligence, technological singularity, applications of artificial intelligence
Biometrics Diffusion
Carbon nanotube field-effect transistor Research and development Future miniaturization of transistors
Civic technology Research and development, projects Smart cities, more responsive government Smart city, e-democracy, open data, intelligent environment
Digital scent technology Diffusion Smell-O-Vision, iSmell
DNA digital data storage Experiments Mass data storage
Electronic nose Research, limited commercialization[14][15] Detecting spoiled food, chemical weapons, and cancer
Emerging memory technologies

(T-RAM, Z-RAM, CBRAM, SONOS, RRAM, racetrack memory, NRAM, phase-change memory, FJG RAM, millipede memory, Skyrmion, programmable metallization cell, 3D XPoint, ferroelectric RAM, magnetoresistive RAM, nvSRAM)

In development
Emerging magnetic data storage technologies

(SMR, HAMR, BPM, MAMR, TDMR, CPP/GMR, PMR, hard disk drive)

In development (HAMR, BPM); diffusion (SMR) Greatly improved storage density compared to current HDDs, can be combined
E-textiles Research, diffusion[16] Wearable technology
Exascale computing Projects
Exocortex Diffusion of primitive amplifications; working prototypes of more; Hypothetical, experiments on more substantial amplification
Flexible electronics Research, development, prototypes, limited commercialization (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Fold) Flexible and/or foldable electronic devices, and flexible solar cells which are lightweight, can be rolled up for launch, and are easily deployable Nokia Morph, Flexible organic light-emitting diode
Fourth-generation optical discs (3D optical data storage, Holographic data storage) Research, prototyping[17] Storing and archiving data previously erased for economic reasons Blu-ray Disc, Optical storage
Hybrid forensics[18] Research, commercialization Digital forensics, electronic discovery, malware detection, IT compliance
Li-Fi Demos, requires standardization
Machine vision Research, prototyping, commercialization[19] Biometrics, controlling processes (e.g., in driverless car, automated guided vehicle), detecting events (e.g., in visual surveillance), interaction (e.g., in human–computer interaction), robot vision Computer vision, pattern recognition, digital image processing
Magnonics Research Data storage
Memristor Working prototype[20][21] Smaller, faster, more energy-efficient storage, analogue electronics, programmable logic,[22] signal processing,[23] neural networks,[24] control systems,[25] reconfigurable computing,[26] brain–computer interfaces[27] and RFID,[28] pattern recognition[29]
Molecular electronics Research and development
Multimodal contactless biometric face/iris systems Deployed at various airports and federal security checkpoints[30] Unimodal facial recognition scanners
Nanoelectromechanical systems Research and development
Nanoradio Research and development, diffusion
Neuromorphic engineering Research and development
Optical computing Hypothetical, experiments; some components of integrated circuits have been developed[31] Smaller, faster, lower power consuming computing
Quantum computing Experiments,[32] commercialization[33] Much faster computing for some kinds of problems, chemical modeling, new materials with programmed properties, Hypothetical of high-temperature superconductivity and superfluidity
Quantum cryptography Commercialization[34] Secure communications
Quantum radar Prototypes
Radio-frequency identification Diffusion of high cost[35][36][37] Smartstores – RFID based self checkout (keeping track of all incoming and outgoing products), food packaging, smart shelves, smart carts. See: potential uses
Semantic Web or answer machine Research, limited use Making the web machine-readable by annotating data on the web based on its meaning Corporate Semantic Web, Semantic Web Services, Semantic Web Stack, Web 3.0
Software-defined radio Development, commercialization Cognitive radio, Mesh networks, Software defined antenna GNU Radio, List of software-defined radios, Universal Software Radio Peripheral
Solid-state transformer Development, prototypes
Speech recognition Research, development, commercialization
Spintronics Working prototypes[38] Data storage, computing devices
Subvocal recognition Research, development, commercialization
Thermal copper pillar bump Working prototypes in discrete devices Electric circuit cooling, micro-fluidic actuators, thermoelectric power generation Ultra high definition holographic disc, Metal–insulator transition
Three-dimensional integrated circuit Development, commercialization Memory and data processing
Twistronics Development

Entertainment

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Immersive virtual reality Hypothetical, limited commercialization An artificial environment where the user feels just as immersed as they usually feel in conscious reality. Virtusphere, 3rd Space Vest, haptic suit, immersive technology, simulated reality, holodeck (fictional)
Synthetic media Research and development Films, photos Deepfake, StyleGAN, DeepDream, DALL-E

Optoelectronics

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Laser video display Limited commercialization (e.g. Mitsubishi LaserVue TV in 2008) Displays with a very wide colour gamut Laser TV, Comparison of display technology
Holography (holographic display, computer-generated holography) Diffusion[39][40][41][42]
Optical transistor Some prototypes
Screenless display (Virtual retinal display, Bionic contact lens, Augmented reality, Virtual reality) Experiments Virtual tools and entertainment in a real-world environment, aids for the visually impaired Head-mounted display, Head-up display, Adaptive optics, EyeTap, Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens, AR cloud[43]
Volumetric (3D) display Research, working prototypes, commercialization[44] Television, computer interfaces, cinemas, 3-dimensional imagery Autostereoscopic display, stereoscopic display, volumetric display, Holographic display, Light Field display, Nintendo 3DS, Swept-volume display

Energy

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Airborne wind turbine Research[45][46][47] Wind power generation at higher altitudes, increasing efficiency KiteGen
Americium battery Estimated working prototype in 5–10 years from 2019[48] Energy storage
Artificial photosynthesis Research, experiments,[49] growing interest in a macroscience global project[50] Photosynthesis-like energy and oxygen production from artificial structures Sustainocene, Renewable energy, Nanotechnology
Concentrated solar power Growing markets in California, Spain, Northern Africa[51] Electricity generation DESERTEC, BrightSource Energy, Solar Millennium
Double-layer capacitor Diffusion, continued development[52] Faster-charging, longer-lasting, more flexible, greener energy storage (e.g. for regenerative braking)
Energy harvesting Experiments Constant energy source for mobile, wearable and ubiquitous devices Humavox
Flywheel energy storage Limited commercialization Energy storage
Fusion power Research, experiments Electricity and heat generation, fusion torch recycling with waste heat ITER, NIF, Wendelstein 7-X, Magnetic confinement fusion, Dense plasma focus, Muon-catalyzed fusion
Generation IV nuclear reactor Research, experiments Electricity and heat generation, transmutation of nuclear waste stockpiles from traditional reactors
Gravity battery Small-scale examples Energy storage
Green hydrogen Limited use, commercial diffusion Emissions-free vehicle transport, replacement of natural gas for heating, production of ammonia, mitigation of climate change
Home fuel cell Research, commercialization[53][54][55] Off-the-grid, producing electricity in using an environmentally friendly fuel as a backup during long term power failures. Autonomous building, Bloom Energy Server
Lithium–air battery Research, experiments[56] Laptops, mobile phones, long-range electric cars; storing energy for electric grid
Lithium iron phosphate battery Commercialization Energy storage
Lithium–sulfur battery Research and development Energy storage
Magnesium battery Early commercialization Energy storage
Molten salt reactor Research, experiments Electricity and heat generation
Nanowire battery Experiments, prototypes[57][58] Laptops, mobile phones, long-range electric cars; storing energy for electric grid
Nantenna Research[59][60][61] Electricity generation
Ocean thermal energy conversion Prototype Electricity generation
Solid-state battery Niche uses Reliable, power-dense energy storage (particularly for electric cars and wearable technology)
Smart grid Research, diffusion[62][63][64] Advanced grid power management Smart meter, SuperSmart Grid
Space-based solar power Early research Electricity generation
Thorium nuclear fuel cycle Research started in the 1960s, still ongoing Electricity and heat generation
Vortex engine Power generation
Wireless energy transfer Prototypes, diffusion, short range consumer products[65][66] Wirelessly powered equipment: laptop, cell phones, electric cars, etc. WiTricity, resonant inductive coupling
Zero-energy building Expansion Energy-efficient homes Passive house

Materials and textiles

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
4D printing Research and development
Aerogel Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses[67] Improved thermal insulation (for pipelines, aerospace, etc.), as well as insulative "glass" if it can be made clear
Amorphous metal Experiments, use in amorphous metal transformers Armor, implants
Bioplastic Limited commercialization (e.g. polylactic acid in 3D printing) Disposable packaging and single-use items
Conductive polymers Research, experiments, prototypes Lighter and cheaper wires, antistatic materials, organic solar cells Jacquard weaving
Cryogenic treatment Research, experiments, prototypes Significantly stronger metal components
Electric armour Prototypes Better protection for warships and armoured fighting vehicles from shaped charge weapons
Fullerene Experiments, diffusion Programmable matter
Graphene Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses[68][69] Higher-specific strength structural components, higher-frequency transistors, lower-cost mobile displays, automotive hydrogen storage, biosensors,[70] more efficient batteries[71]
Lab-on-a-chip Limited commercialization More efficient laboratory analysis
High-temperature superconductivity Cryogenic receiver front-end (CRFE) RF and microwave filter systems for mobile phone base stations; prototypes in dry ice; experiments for lower temperatures[72] No-loss conductors, frictionless bearings, magnetic levitation, lossless high-capacity accumulators, electric cars, heat-free integrated circuits
Magnetic nanoparticles Development Cancer treatment,[73][74] wastewater treatment[75]
Magnetorheological fluid Research and development, limited magnetorheological damping applications Seismic damping for earthquake resistance Electrorheological fluid
Microfluidics Research and development
High-temperature superfluidity Superfluid gyroscopes already exist but work at very low temperatures High-precision measure of gravity, navigation and maneuver devices, possible devices to emit gravitomagnetic field, frictionless mechanical devices
Metamaterials Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion[76] Microscopes, cameras, metamaterial cloaking, cloaking devices
Metal foam Research, limited commercialization Space colonies, floating cities
Multi-function structures[77] Hypothetical, experiments, some prototypes, few commercial Wide range of applications (e.g. self-health monitoring, self-healing materials)
Nanomaterials: carbon nanotubes Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses[78][79] Higher-specific strength structural components Potential applications of carbon nanotubes, Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers
Quantum dot Research, experiments, prototypes,[80] commercialization[citation needed] Quantum dot lasers, quantum dot displays, faster data communication, laser scalpels
Silicene Early research Nanoscale electronics
Superalloy Research, diffusion Significantly stronger metal components (particularly in aircraft jet engines)
Synthetic diamond Research, commercialization Electronics
Time crystal Research experiments[81] Quantum computers with stable qubits
Translucent concrete Commercialization Construction of buildings and sculptures (e.g. Europe Gate)

Medicine

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Artificial uterus Hypothetical, research Space travel, extracorporeal pregnancy, reprogenetics, same-sex procreation
Body implant, prosthesis Trials, from animal (e.g., brain implants) to human clinical (e.g., insulin pump implant), to commercial production (e.g. pacemaker, joint replacement, cochlear implant) Brain implant, retinal implant Prosthetics, prosthetics in fiction, cyborg
Cryonics Hypothetical, research, commercialization (e.g. Alcor, Cryonics Institute) Life extension
De-extinction Research, development, trials Animal husbandry, pets, zoos Revival of the woolly mammoth
Electronic medical records Deployment Paper medical records
Human DNA vaccination and mRNA vaccination Implementation in 2021 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic Disease vaccinations, cancer therapy
Enzybiotics Successful first trials
Genetic engineering of organisms and viruses Research, development, commercialization[82][83] Creating and modifying species (mainly improving their physical and mental capabilities), bio-machines, eliminating genetic disorders (gene therapy), new materials production,[84] healthier and cheaper food, creating drugs and vaccines, research in natural sciences, bioremediation,[85] detecting arsenic,[86] CO2 reducing superplant,[87] Biopunk, Genetically modified food, superhuman, human enhancement, transhumanism, gene doping, designer baby, genetic pollution
Hibernation or suspended animation Research, development, animal trials[88] Organ transplantation, space travel, prolonged surgery, emergency care
Life extension, strategies for engineered negligible senescence Research, experiments, animal testing[89][90] Increased life spans Immortality, biological immortality
Nanomedicine Research, experiments, limited use[91][92]
Nanosensors Research and development
Omni Processor Research and development; some prototypes
Oncolytic virus Human trials (Talimogene laherparepvec, reolysin, JX-594), commercialisation (H101) Cancer therapy, imaging Oncolytic virus
Personalized medicine, full genome sequencing Research, experiments[93] Personalized medical procedures, genome sequencing during drug trials Personal genomics
Phage therapy First trial uses
Plantibody Clinical trials
Regenerative medicine Some laboratory trials[94] Life extension
Robotic surgery Research, diffusion[95][96][97]
Senolytic Under investigation
Stem cell treatments Research, experiments, phase I human trial spinal cord injury treatment (GERON), cultured cornea transplants[98][99] Treatment for a wide range of diseases and injuries Stem cell, stem cell treatments
Synthetic biology, synthetic genomics Research, development, first synthetic bacteria created May 2010[100][101] Infinitely scalable production processes based on programmable species of bacteria and other life forms BioBrick, iGEM, synthetic genomics
Tissue engineering Research, diffusion[102][103][104][105] Organ printing, tooth regeneration
Tricorder Research and development Diagnosing medical conditions Medical tricorder
Virotherapy Research, human trials Gene therapy, cancer therapy Virotherapy, Oncolytic Virus
Vitrification or cryoprotectant Hypothetical, some experiments[106] Organ transplantation, cryonics

Neuroscience

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Artificial brain Research[19] Treatment of neurological disease, artificial intelligence Blue Brain Project, Human Brain Project
Brain–computer interface Research and commercialization Faster communication and learning, as well as more "real" entertainment (generation of feelings and information in brain on-demand) and the control of emotions in the mentally ill[107] Experience machine, Neuralink, Stent-electrode recording array
Brain-reading, Neuroinformatics Research[108][109]
Electroencephalography Research, diffusion[110] Controlling electronic devices via brain waves BrainGate
Head transplant Success in animal experiments, including 2-headed result Treatment of debilitating diseases or severe disfigurement Brain transplant, hand transplantation, organ transplantation
Neuroprosthetics Visual prosthesis, brain implant, exocortex, retinal implant, neurograin[111]
Memory erasure Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder

Military

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Caseless ammunition Field tests and limited commercialization Lighter and cheaper ammunition; the lack of a case may also simplify the design of firearms Lightweight Small Arms Technologies
Cloaking device Successful experiments cloaking small objects under some conditions[112] Stealth Metamaterial cloaking
Directed-energy weapon Research, development, some prototypes[113] Laser Weapon System
Electrolaser Research and development
Electrothermal-chemical technology Research and development Tank, artillery, and close-in weapon systems
Force field Hypothetical, experiments[114] Military and law enforcement, space travel Plasma window
Green bullet Development Environment-friendly ammunition
Hypersonic cruise missile Development Avangard, Kinzhal, Zircon, BrahMos-II, Prompt Global Strike, DARPA Falcon Project, DF-ZF, Boeing X-51 Waverider
Laser weapon Research and development, trials Tracking and destruction of rockets, bombs, drones etc.[115] Advanced Tactical Laser, High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System
MAHEM Research and development A formed penetrator using molten metal in place of self-forging explosives Explosively pumped flux compression generator
Precision-guided firearm Research and development Increased accuracy by marksmen EXACTO, Smart bullet
Railgun Research and development[116][117] Cheaper and safer ammunition Coilgun
Stealth technology Research and development Electronic countermeasures Plasma stealth, Stealth aircraft, Radar-absorbent material
Telescoped ammunition Research and development More compact cartridges
Lightweight Small Arms Technologies Research and development

Space

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Artificial gravity Research and development Space travel Spin gravity
Asteroid mining Conceptual; NASA has announced plans to capture and redirect an asteroid[118] Commerce, resource supply
Starshot Research Uncrewed interstellar probes[119]
Stasis chamber Research and development, experiments[120] Interplanetary space travel, interstellar space travel, medical
Inflatable space habitat Development, prototypes built and tested Space habitats Bigelow Aerospace
Reusable launch vehicle Development by several companies, including Blue Origin and SpaceX Circumvention of the cost of expendable launch vehicles outside of national government or military missions New Glenn, SpaceX Starship

Robotics

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Android, gynoid Research, development, prototypes, diffusion, commercializing[121] Disabled, infant and older people care, housekeeping, sex-worker, flight-attendant, model, hostess, waiter, security guard
Gastrobot Prototypes Robots fuelled by digesting organic matter
Molecular nanotechnology, nanorobotics Hypothetical, experiments[122] Machines that can make anything given the materials, cheap planetary terraforming Rotimatic
Powered exoskeleton Research, development, prototypes, diffusion, commercializing[123] Heavy lifting, paralysis, muscle-related diseases, warfare, construction, firefighting, care for the elderly and disabled LOPES (exoskeleton), ReWalk, Human Universal Load Carrier, fictional armor Iron Man's armor, Future Force Warrior
Self-reconfiguring modular robot Hypothetical, experiments, early prototypes As a universal physical machine, SRCMR may change the way many physical structures and machines are made Robot, swarm robotics, autonomous research robot
Swarm robotics Hypothetical, experiments[124] Autonomous construction, space construction Swarm intelligence, autonomous robotics, nanorobotics, particle swarm optimization, multi-agent systems, behavior-based robotics
Uncrewed vehicle Research and development, diffusion, commercial Transport of goods, surveillance, oceanography, wildfire mapping, pipeline security, home security, anti-piracy, border control, pursuing criminals, oil, gas and mineral exploration and production, geophysical and geomagnetic surveys, exploration of hazardous areas, firefighting,[125] military and peacekeeping operations, search and rescue, bomb disposal, police raids Unmanned aerial vehicle, AeroVironment, AeroVironment Global Observer, AeroVironment Nano Hummingbird, Unmanned combat air vehicle, Unmanned ground vehicle, Unmanned space vehicle, Unmanned surface vehicle, Unmanned underwater vehicle, Autonomous underwater vehicle

Transport

Emerging technology Status Potential applications Related articles
Airless tire Research, development, early prototypes[126][127] Safer tires Tweel
Atmospheric satellite Experimentation More widespread communications
Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit Commercialization, diffusion Reducing air pollution, decreasing oil consumption Electric vehicle
Flexible wings (X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing, Adaptive Compliant Wing), fluidic flight controls Experiments, prototypes[128][129][130][131][132] Controlling aircraft, ships Aircraft flight control system, BAE Systems Demon, fluidics
Flying car Early commercialization, prototypes[133][134] More effective transportation Terrafugia Transition, Moller M400 Skycar, Urban Aeronautics X-Hawk, AeroMobil
Fusion rocket Research, development[135] Fast interplanetary travel, with limited interstellar travel applications
Ground-level power supply Standardization,[136][137] commercialization[138] Reduction of required battery size and weight for battery electric vehicles Trafikverkets Program för Elvägar
Hoverbike Working prototypes, early commercialization Package delivery, search and rescue
Hovertrain, Ground effect train, Ground effect vehicle Research, development[139][140] Faster trains Aérotrain, Duke Hospital PRT, Hovercraft
Ion-propelled aircraft Research, development, prototypes[141][142] Better flying transportation, efficient propulsion in air Electrohydrodynamics
Jet pack or backpack helicopter Early commercialization, prototypes[143] More effective individual transportation
Maglev train Research, early commercialization[144][145] Faster trains Transrapid, Shanghai Maglev Train, Linimo
Magnetic levitation Research, development, Commercialization (Maglev Train) High temperature superconductivity, cryogenics, low temperature refrigerators, superconducting magnet design and construction, fiber reinforced plastics for vehicles and structural concretes, communication and high power solid-state controls, vehicle design (aerodynamics and noise mitigation), precision manufacturing, construction and fabrication of concrete structures,[146] maglev car, maglev based spacecraft launch Vactrain, Levicar
Mass driver Prototypes
Orbital propellant depot Research, development Deep-space missions with larger payloads, satellite life extension, lowering cost per kg launched to space
Personal rapid transit Early commercialization, diffusion[147][148] More effective transportation Morgantown PRT, ULTra
Physical Internet Research[149]
Scooter-sharing system Commercialization Increased density[150] Bird (company)
Vactrain Research, development[151] Faster way to get somewhere ET3 Global Alliance, Hyperloop
Plasma propulsion Research and development Spacecraft propulsion
Pulse detonation engine Research and development; one prototype flown in 2008[152] Higher-efficiency propulsion
Self-driving car Research, development, early commercialization Reducing concerns of tiredness while driving and also looking outside in the car. Helpful in countries where employment of personal drivers is expensive. Waymo, Tesla FSD
Space elevator Research[153] Non-rocket spacelaunch Orbital ring, Sky hook, Space fountain
Spaceplane Research, development[154][155][156] Hypersonic transport A2, Skylon
Vehicular communication systems Research and development, some diffusion Traffic management, automatic accommodation of emergency vehicles, driver assistance systems, automated highways Artificial Passenger, Dedicated short-range communications, Intelligent transportation system

See also

  • Technology and applied sciences portal

References

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Further reading

  • Ten Breakthrough Technologies in 2015, MIT Technology Review
  • Ten Breakthrough Technologies in 2016, MIT Technology Review
  • Ten Breakthrough Technologies in 2017, MIT Technology Review
  • Ten Breakthrough Technologies in 2018, MIT Technology Review
  • Ten Breakthrough Technologies in 2019, MIT Technology Review
  • Ten Breakthrough Technologies in 2020, MIT Technology Review