Change is inevitable, and so is old technology being replaced by a newer, better and cheaper one. This process of displacing an established technology and replacing it with another one is called Disruption. And the new innovative idea is referred to as Disruptive Technology. The change in technology does not only impact the sale of products but also brings about significant changes in the way we live our daily lives. A relevant example would be people not buying newspapers, because now they have smartphones to stay updated, wherever and whenever, they want.
Newspapers and a cup of coffee/tea used to be an important part of the morning But with technology, newspapers have lost their importance, wherein, Tea/Coffee hasn’t been replaced for almost two centuries now.
The process of disruption often begins with the new technology being used only by a handful due to its costs and other limitations. However, gradually several manufacturers across the globe use the technology to provide an affordable product, subject to a wider audience. This new technology, then, slowly becomes a part of our daily lives. One of the most important reasons is the advertisement of the product with a popular celebrity, and the next thing you know is that everyone is using it as it represents some sort of status symbol.
Some of these innovations make life easier, but others enslave you and pose a threat to your health. A fruit juicer does make it easy to cut, chop and squeeze the juice out of the fruits but television has the power to make you sit on your couch for hours. Some of these disruptive technologies of the future may even pose a risk to our lives if misused. It is up to us to determine which technology should be allowed to be disruptive or shunned at the very beginning.
Here are a few examples would help you realize the disruption of technology we have already gone through:
- Automobiles replacing Horses as the primary means of transport. A 1900 Easter morning photograph of New York city shows dozens of horses driven carriages. It would be nothing less than a miracle to see one horse on the streets of New York City today. You would probably want to come as far as India to see a fully functional Horse driven carriage on the street.
- Personal computers, along with printers, replaced the Typewriter. A typewriter is now exclusively available in museums around the world, for the need and value of the once most required product has been nullified by a PC.
- Emails disrupted the Postal Service. There were days without PCs and the Internet which were spent waiting for the Postman to deliver a letter. This has been replaced with emails and instant messengers where responses are received within nanoseconds as almost everyone is online. Don’t believe me! Try sending a “Hi” to some of your contacts on your Facebook Messenger.
- Smartphones disrupted several things. Once upon a time, I had a Fujifilm digital camera, an iPod Nano for music, a pocket calculator, a GPS device in my car, a PDA and a Sony Playstation Portable which was used for watching movies and playing games. Today I just have a OnePlus 7 Pro.
- Cloud computing replaced Physical Storage. Space, time, and resources invested in saving and taking backup your data has been replaced by Cloud Computing which is cheaper and secure.
- Autonomous Vehicles
- Digital Twinning
- Artificial Production of Food.
- Smart Buildings
- Space Colonization (Mission to Mars)
- Renewable energy, energy storage
- High-speed travel (Flying taxis and hyperloop)
- Genome editing
- 3D Printing
Some of the Examples of Current Disruptive Technology Are:
1. Artificial Intelligence
It has been over half a century that we have artificial Intelligence among us, but this potentially disruptive technology was never able to make any noticeable change due to a lack of other resources. To use AI to its maximum potential, we require huge storage space, maximum bandwidth and an unlimited supply of power. These requirements were just a dream 50 years ago but are currently achievable. Due to the enhancement of technology around us, the possibilities of inculcating AI into our daily lives is not possible, making our lives easier and more secure.
AI has now started to become a part of our daily lives without many of us realizing this. The smart assistants we use every day like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri are the best examples of AI around us. Other usages include Chatbots on websites, video games, fraud protection software, spam detection, and many others as well. Food delivery or Hiring a Cab through Uber requires extensive use of AI. The movie suggestions on Netflix and Google Chrome browser displaying what you need, are nor some sort of magic and neither is it some agency spying on you. It is a complex algorithm that calculates what you may like based on your browsing or viewing history.
AI is the backbone of all the disruptive technologies that will develop in the near future. From autonomous cars to robotics, from space exploration to mass production of food, every technology would be based on Artificial Intelligence to function and utilize itself to its full capability.
Blockchain is a disruptive technology that has already created waves in the banking industry. The main aim of blockchain was to digitize currency and making the transactions more secure and at the same time, minimize the fees charged currently by the banks. With the help of blockchain, many cryptocurrencies were created such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. Blockchain technology is much more than buying and selling cryptocurrencies. It is a distributed ledger that can store information about the transactions that have taken place and the final result at the given moment. It, not only records something of the monetary value but can also record other details like copyrights, land ownership rights, etc. With its decentralized, transparent and secure information system; it has become more compatible to create a universal information system, which can be validated and can help reduce time.
Another example of a disruptive industry is the invention of Drones. We have seen drones in a few of the science fiction movies, but they are soon going to be a reality soon. The only issue in using these vehicles is to set up technology and rules to keep each drone under surveillance. If these drones are left unregulated, then they can cause more damage than benefit.
Currently, it is rumored that Amazon is working on drone technology to deliver its goods to remote areas. Drones as generally depicted as flying machines, but the devices can also walk, jump, float or swim. With that in mind, the possibilities of their usage multiply. It may seem that the Drone technology may fuse with Robotics to create better and powerful robots that would improve the quality of life conditions on the planet.
4. Virtual/Augmented Reality
AR/VR has become immensely popular in the entertainment industry today with the gaming industry utilizing more than 50% of this technology. However, there is more scope to the Virtual or Augmented reality technology as it helps to remove the difference between the physical and digital worlds. The best example of AR usage was demonstrated by the number of users playing Pokemon Go and trying to catch an AR=based creature on their mobile. This further can be enhanced by using VR headsets which make you feel that you are not just playing a game but living through an experience that is lifelike.
Apart from gaming, AR/VR is being used in the field of education, construction, and medical science. On a personal scale, AR/VR can be used by people to enrich their memories and improve mental wellbeing.
5. Internet of things (IoT)
Within itself, the Internet of Things is not a disruptive technology but acts as a backbone of the entire disruptive industry. The number of devices connected to the internet today has not just doubled but increased exponentially within the last 3 years. It is estimated that 100 billion devices would be connected to the internet by the end of 2020. IoT will be used in automated cars, Space explorations, artificial food manufacturing, manufacturing industry and much more. This technology will bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds as it can identify objects and create a virtual representation online.
With everything being dependent online, there is always a risk of security as cybercriminals might disrupt any process, thereby meddling with our normal life. If the security measures taken are unbreachable, then IoT can shape the future of our life starting from our homes. With auto-adjusted thermostats and our coffee maker mixing the precise ingredients to suit our taste, it would soon be included in our lives and could be considered as a perfect example of IoT. Moreover, moving in self-driven cars driven on smart roads with smart street lights to smart buildings will make our life more convenient than ever.
Some of the disruptive technology that may disrupt the future are:
One of the greatest inventions that mankind can be credited with is the invention of robots. A Robot is anything that completes a task for you with predefined instructions provided. And the result would be 100% each time. you run the program. It was earlier perceived that this technology would be difficult and too expensive. But with companies across the globe trying to work on robotics, it can soon become a reality. Soon, this device could be a part of our lives, just as coffeemaker and thermostat are.
Robotics is one of the finest examples of a disruptive industry which would cause a lot of our current industries to go obsolete soon. Robots will not only be used in the manufacturing industry to perform tasks, which humans are not proficient in, but also in the medical field like surgical systems, nanorobotics, and prosthetics. You could also have your personal robot which could do your household work and even cook a variety of food for you.
2. Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous Vehicles is one of the finest disruptive technology examples, which not only covers cars on the road but also include vehicles that move on water or on air. Not to be confused with drones, this technology is on a larger scale as it will require communicating with other autonomous vehicles and smart roads. The latest development in the automobile industry is the invention of electric cars which are cheaper to operate and do not pollute the environment. However, once autonomous vehicles arrive, the current petrol and diesel cars along with the electric and hybrid cars would become obsolete. People from all walks of life would use these vehicles, including farmers, doctors, firemen, architects, etc.
3. Digital Twinning
One of the disruptive technology examples includes creating your virtual twin and experimenting on it without actually affecting yourself. You will be able to try out different diets and note the impact those diets would have on your biometric twin. It would also help to observe the reactions of any medication before actually trying it out.
This concept would only become a reality with the advancement of IoT as a lot of data is being collected about ourselves through sensors in the digital devices we wear and carry today, especially watches and smartphones. That data generated will be sufficient to create a digital twin which will also collect data in real-time if required. Many industries have already ventured into the concept of using this technology before releasing their products.
4. Artificial Production of Food
This is one industry where disruptive technology is most needed. With the ever-growing population, the demand for food will increase exponentially. While most of us have four meals a day, there are people living on our planet who haven’t eaten in four days. This is not a statement from an emotional movie, but a fact published by the United Nations World Food Program.
To overcome this problem there are two innovations in the food-producing industry:
- Floating Farms. Multi-layered farms designed on water bodies, not using soil but roots falling directly into liquid and fishes being breed underneath them is the concept of a floating farm. The idea has been successfully achieved by many scientists, and it will be a matter of years when the traditional farming system would be replaced by floating farms which can yield more produce, including fish and vegetables.
- Lab-grown meat. This is an old idea which was realized a few years back but was never made commercial. Scientists have manufactured cheaper, healthier food in labs without actually slaughtering any animal. The food produced by this method is free from diseases, pesticides and ethically moral. Once the regulations are set by the FDA, this clean meat would be available in large quantities to satisfy the hunger problem that is about to come.
5. Smart Buildings/Cities
Smart Buildings which will eventually lead to truly smart cities is the next disruptive technology. It has already paved its way in major cities of the world. This will be possible with IoT becoming more immersed in buildings with the ability to increase or decrease the temperature within the building, adjust lightning based on time and much more. It will also increase security and with products from other disruptive industries combined, one may never have to leave the premises of the smart building. With the advent of AR/VR inculcated, you might be able to hold your office meeting sitting in your home.
Another concept of smart cities will include creating a megalopolis by combining a few nearby cities into one. China is the first country to take this initiative of merging nine cities covering an area of 40,000 square kilometres which is almost the size of Switzerland.
6. Space Colonization (Mission to Mars)
Scientists have been working over a century to unravel the mysteries of our solar system and have been exploring the sky above us. And, that time has come, now organizing a manned mission to Mars will be a reality. Until now, it was just the movies that depicted how space travel and life on other planets would be but with NASA announcing a crewed mission to Mars, we could finally see it for ourselves.
It is predicted that it would probably take more than a decade to start colonizing another planet. But, with numerous private organizations such as Strato Launch and Space X conducting their own space exploration projects; it seems it could happen much faster. Space Exploration and Colonization may not be a disruptive industry itself, but it will give rise to much other disruptive technology as a result.
7. Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is a type of disruptive industry that will eliminate all the current traditional sources like Coal and Petrol. Renewable sources of energy include Solar, Wind, and Ocean Waves etc. Such sources would never diminish and will also minimize pollution and climate changes. However, to utilize energy from renewable sources, we require few technological inventions like turbines that can be placed near the coastal areas to harness tidal energy and Photovoltaic cells to capture and store solar energy. It will not be long before this disruptive technology changes the course of life on our planet.
8. High-Speed Travel
Gradually people are becoming aware of the pollution caused by petrol and diesel cars, and are switching to public transport with extra effort, relinquishing the comfort of their cars. A few health enthusiasts have even started using bicycles as a means of transport to short distances. However, the current means of transportation might undergo a drastic change as a disruptive technology like high-speed travel might take over. This can include flying taxis, super-fast magnetic levitation, and hyperloop system which include pods moving through vacuum tubes with reduced friction. The first Maglev was invented in China and runs only for 30 KM for now.
9. Genome Editing
Innovations in the field of Medicine have always been on a rise, and this trend will perhaps continue until we reach a state of immortality. New disruptive technology in this sector is the process of altering the human genes to prevent diseases and remove other weaknesses from the human body. It also includes creating new vaccines that would alter the genomic structure and help to cure diseases like cancer in an efficient way.
10. 3D Printing
The process of building any object using a machine, which can lay plastic and metals in layers based upon a digital design fed into it is called 3D printing. You might have seen these printers on YouTube, where they are shown creating small objects and toys that appear to be similar to the originals manufactured in the factory. However, 3D printers are being used to build automobile spare parts houses and coral reefs on famous beaches across the globe.
Due to climate changes, oceans are becoming warmer and this has resulted in coral reefs dying and breaking off from the giant reef structure. Scientists are trying to print fake 3D reefs to attract algae and fish which will eventually rebuild the natural reef structure. Another huge development in the field of 3D printing is the creation of buildings in Dubai by 2030. Currently, these printers are being produced in the USA, UK, and China, but soon they will be manufactured all over the world, making this one of the best disruptive technology examples in the years to come.
Your views on Disruptive Technology
The evolution of species and Innovation of technology are processes that can be slowed down but never halted. It is bound to happen someday or the other. As Charles Darwin explained about the Survival of the fittest theory with regards to Evolution on Earth, the same is true with technology. Only those technologies that are easier, safer, and cheaper will prevail, disrupting others and making a place for themselves.
Waiting for your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below, on disruptive technologies listed here and others if I have missed any.