Post 22 -by Gautam Shah


Proposed workshop-lecture on 15 OCT 2016, Saturday, Morn at 1000 Hours, for Post Graduate students of Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.


Emerging technologies are innovations that represent competitive advantage, simultaneously in several fields. In the past we had eras defining phrases such as Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Steel Age which succinctly tell a story. Emergent technologies of modern eras are relevant on following counts:

1 Materials Technology of formations as geometries or structures.

2 Technologies of processing that reduce the movement of materials or equipments.

3 Design deployment methods to reduce time to manufacturing or processing including multi-tasking, automation, bionics and robotics.

4 Synergetic systems that lead to size compaction, energy usage and human involvement

5 Termination Processes for recycling and recovery management.

Since history of mankind basic drivers for innovations have been:-

  • Local and seasonal availability,
  • costs of acquisition or production,
  • transportation and warehousing logistics
  • efficiencies of mass versus weight,
  • strength from a mass,
  • calculated risk taking associated with new things

‘It is advantageous to move over to new technologies, then to waste time and effort in fine tuning the current ones’.

Emergent Technologies are operative as:

  1.        Miniaturization
  2.        Auto-regulated processing with feed forward mechanisms
  3.        Use of fuzzy logic for Multi lateral or functional operations
  4.        Convergent technologies
  5.       Quantum jumping
  6.        Systems thinking
  7.       Specificity and Localization
  8.       Generality and Universalization
  9.        Tools, Handling, Reach capacities
  10.      Cross over absorption of technologies

1 Miniaturization : It works primarily as mass versus weight factor resulting in energy versus benefit ratio. In buildings it results as a space saving and handling factor. In certain circumstances the loss of the second (width) and third (depth or height) dimension makes an entity of nearly zero mass (embedded transistors in a printed circuit, CCDs, metalized film, etc.).

2 Regulated processing : Regulated processing conditions the response time, and in many circumstances recovery time. These technologies were used in controlling the reverse action, bounce back or impact absorption, but are used in transfer systems such as elevators, walkways, conveyers, controls for gadgets, vibratory conditions, acoustics, climate control, etc. Regulated processing was once upon a time on simultaneous or synchronous movement control. One movement system (like a turning shaft) turned several sub systems through sprockets, gears and levers. This is now being changed with thyristor controls resulting in nearly no-movement devices.

3 Multi lateral or Multi functional operations : Multi functional processes have faster throughput, accurate and consistent output. Such plants save space, often operate in inclement environmental conditions, isolation, hazard prone situations and require no ergonomic considerations. Some of the known Multi Functional technologies are CNC machines, work stations, Robotics, Fewer components, Nonmoving or passive operations, Distributed and Localized control systems, Integrated feed forward and feed back systems.

4 Convergent technologies : We add on technologies to existing systems as these are realized or become viable. Here there is an inherent sequencing of processes or layering of applications. Convergent technologies combine several such time and space relevant technologies. The singular offering has efficiency of integrated working, fewer components, and a compact design. As this is conceived as a replacement for existing set, it obviously has a neat and self-sufficient form. Convergent technologies are deficient in the sense that the solution offered is local, specific and still only a component-relevant (yet a larger component replacing several small ones).

5 Quantum jumping : Quantum Jumping is often called a ‘disruptive technology’. It is a radical concept that replaces one or several technologies. A quantum jumping technology must become effective very fast. Wireless telephony or mobiles have made a substantial change

6 Systems thinking : Systems consist of elements, relationships and a structure or pattern. System thinking allows one to seamlessly transit from one to another type of system, and develop a common concept or an inclusive system. It is not a physical entity but helps in assimilating diverse technologies and orders.

7 Specificity and Localization : There is always a debate, should one be specific and locally relevant? By being so one saves on effort and redundancy of diversity. It saves on transport and negates the scope of communication. The former has turned costlier but the later has become faster, efficient, cheaper and multi mode. Specificity and localization have a tendency of creating closed ended systems or holistic architecture. The owner is omni present here and so there is a resistance to change such as alteration or enhancement. Most arts and crafts are intrinsically specific.

8 Generality and Universalization : These concepts develop when the creator, or producer is distanced in time and space from the user. These entities are designed as open ended systems for wider acceptability (markets-clientele) and longer relevance. Another cause for this is to create ‘windows’ or slots for upgrades and expansion. A pyramid is not an extendible form, a cylinder has limited scope for enhancement, but a cubical form has several sided options. A step further to this thinking is to create potential nodes where connections can occur as in case of space stations or Internet.

9 Tools, Handling, Reach capacities : Tools, handling systems and reach capacities have made it possible to deploy new designs. Last century some amazing tools like under water and argon welding, flexi drills, pneumatic tools and medical scopes. These capacities and Robots, Scopes, MMR, sonar and other imaging tools, Flex hand tools, pneumatic super speed tools, Spark erosion, Automation, control devices, Remote processing, material removal and mass building linked to 3D modelling.

10 Cross over absorption of technologies : Innovations in a field have more takers in other fields. Space travel innovations have been very extensively adopted in life sciences, fine chemicals and agriculture. Advances in Bio-sciences have inspired builders to design bio-metric architecture. Digital imaging, remote sensing and global positioning have collectively opened many new avenues of knowledge. Miniaturization has brought in drones, bugs, spiders are not just espionage tools but monitors for conditions inside the body, pipes, atomic reactors, mines and architectural models. These are some examples how different technologies overlap to generate a new entity, which in turn is employed in never conceived form. A technocrat needs to be aware of emergent technologies in other fields. Otherwise by the time these percolate to their own field, the developments outdate them.

 A list of Popular conception of emerging technologies (with far-reaching effects) covers many different of fields: Ref Washington Post

  • Non living structural materials with capacity to heal themselves when cut, torn or cracked
  • Photo-synthetic bacteria to turn waste CO2 into liquid fuels or chemicals
  • Superior osmosis or solar-thermal geothermal installations for efficient water purification of industrial waste and sea water
  • Molecular level design for enhanced nutrition
  • Precise drug delivery through nano scale engineering
  • Remote sensing personal health parameters
  • Organic electronics with printed using low-cost, scalable processes such as ink jet printing
  • Spent-fuel recycling technology for converting nuclear waste into reusable products
  • On Line Electric Vehicles (OLEV) delivering power in line
  • Wireless charging of devices like mobiles
  • Nano structured materials with tailored properties, designed and engineered at the molecular scale
  • Advances in areas such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics for nutrition, medicine and disease prevention tailored for every individual


Emergent Technologies on Door Step

  • .◦ Eye interface display systems◦ Mind Machine interactive systems
  • ◦ Self learning and correcting systems
  • ◦ Feed forward management systems
  • ◦ Multi cell -pixel image capture (compared with lens-focussing)
  • ◦ Fabrics with electro sensitive nodes
  • ◦ Electronic nose and enzyme-odour formatter
  • ◦ Neuron based multi nodal or distributed computing
  • ◦ Solar energy absorption modalities: concentrating heat energy or direct conversion to electric energy, Locations and forms for these to occur.
  • ◦ Speech recognition and Language translators
  • ◦ Command based language without semantics
  • ◦ Conductive polymers
  • ◦ High temperature conductivity (compared with very low temp technologies)
  • ◦ Unmanned micro vehicles for surveillance, observation and repair
  • ◦ Scopes and miniature sensing devices as Design aid
  • ◦ Atmospheric carbon scrubbers
  • ◦ Extra large Domes for cities
  • ◦ Large zero gravity production zones
  • ◦ Micro nutrient delivery systems
  • ◦ Magnetic refrigeration
  • ◦ Autonomic healing of polymer composites


Published by

Gautam Shah

Former adjunct faculty, Faculty of Design CEPT University, Ahmedabad and Consultant Designer

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