Societal problems arrive quickly and change our way of life in what feels like an instant. Of all the lessons learned in 2020, one of the most imperative was that to meet these challenges we must be nimble, innovative, and open minded. But, where can we start and where should we look for guidance?
As a society we need to focus first on the health of our fellow citizens. All of the greatest innovation is useless if we do not have a healthy citizenry. We must once and for all put an end to food insecurity in America. As the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind why do we still have children going to bed hungry? Next we must ask, do we need simply more healthcare, or to focus first on smarter healthcare? Once we have secured a plan for the health of society, we need to innovate our entire educational system.
Here we will showcase four examples of innovations that are meeting these needs of society, and the companies who are leveraging this technology for the betterment of us all.
Sustainable technology and Food production to solve resource scarcity
Americans have to rethink the future sustainability of our food supply. Many companies are moving from the farm to the lab, exploring new food and beverage production techniques that are more sustainable. As growing demand for food poses additional risks to planetary health and strains the globe’s resources, lab-made food offers a more sustainable alternative.
Global demand for protein continues to increase. Lab-grown meats will become more and more of a reliable alternative as the 21st century progresses. Additionally, innovation brings animal-based substitute products which will soon become the “new normal” as consumers progressively choose food options that meet their moral principles.
Companies to watch
MycoTechnology uses mycelia from mushrooms to convert plant-based protein into nutritious protein blends.
Air Protein is a meat substitute made out of thin air. Their goal of feeding the planet’s ever increasing population through seemingly endlessly sustainable air-based protein rooted in NASA research from the 1960’s.
Natural Machines developed a 3D food printer they have dubbed Foodini. The printer uses open capsules that users enable with foodstuffs of their choice. Science fiction is once again close to becoming science fact. Captain James T. Kirk would approve of this technology.
Creator has developed a fully autonomous burger-bot that can slice toppings, grill a patty, assemble and bag a burger without any human interaction. If this tech is scaled for other meals as well it could be leveraged into cooking safe and nutritious meals for people that are now in either food deserts and/or impoverished.
Advanced Healthcare through Regeneration and Bio Printing
Bioprinting enables the creation of living biological tissue and organs through the layering of
living cells and supportive biomolecules. Along with regeneration, bio printing has the potential to address the organ transplant crisis in the US, opening the door to on-demand human organ creation for organs that won’t be rejected by the immune system.
Companies to watch
3D Systems recently made a breakthrough in lung regeneration “combined with United Therapeutics’ renowned expertise in regenerative medicine has enabled advances in lung modeling, 3D printing, as well as material formulation using a unique rhCollagen, and material handling to yield significant capabilities in bioprinters and biomaterials for lung manufacturing.”
3DBio is a 3D bioprinting company focused on creating personalized living tissue implants based in Brooklyn, NY. With their focus on bio printing whole tissue living implants one can easily take the leap in their mind to how many lives can be saved once this technology is perfected for organs and other tissues.
Prellis Biologics is developing technology to 3D print engineered human tissues and organs. They boast that they have sped up the process itself stating they “can print 240,000 voxels (3D pixels) per second. Printing a cubic centimeter with 1-µm resolution and a 1% fill factor takes us 11 hours compared to about 3 years for other similar technologies currently on the market.”
Ambient Intelligence to aid patient care and an aging population
Electronic smart environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people in healthcare spaces like ICUs and clinics that are more difficult to monitor could be invaluable. This emerging discipline brings intelligence to our everyday environments and makes our environments sensitive to us. As the population ages at an ever increasing rate remote patient monitoring capability is needed at a higher rate than ever.
Not only that, ambient intelligence in healthcare would increase efficiency in clinical workflows and improve patient safety in ICU’s and operating rooms.
Companies to watch
Surgical Safety Technologies is developing an AI platform that records data from cameras, microphones, and sensors installed in operating rooms. The system then uses this data to identify inefficiencies and errors in patient care. This instant feedback and data will allow our healthcare professionals to better themselves and in turn the care of us all.
Stanford University published a study showing how “hospital rooms could be equipped with AI systems and sensors to monitor proper hygiene measures. Other AI tools could be implemented to predict potential medical emergencies based on behavioral signs in patients. Combined, these solutions could help reduce pressure on hospital staff” reducing overhead and healthcare costs. How will hospital systems implement this technology at scale is to be seen. But, this technology will only become smarter and more effective.
Intelligent Education to accelerate virtual learning
Intelligent education solutions enable more adaptive, personalized learning plans to improve impact on students and educators. Use of cognitive agents have the potential to give teachers and parents the ability to create a personalized education experience for their child based on individual needs and strengths. This type of AI solution can provide quality education in remote settings like those our youth have had to weather during Covid-19.
Though the Covid-19 pandemic has made digitalization a new norm and drastically accelerated the adoption of eLearning, which comes with natural merits such as efficiency, easier accessibility to high-quality teachers, interactivity and affordability etc, we have seen negative effects on our children’s mental health and well being. Intelligent AI driven education can be an answer.
Companies to watch
Tenopy based in Singapore offers virtual learning workshops and uses artificial intelligence to make teachers and courses accessible to students across countries and income levels. They base their mission of education on the idea that they “understand every child has their own learning pace and aptitude.” They the use data analytics to pair teachers with students “to proactively identify and correct individual learning gaps, while cultivating a love of learning”
Korbit based in Canada has a mission of transforming education by guiding the student with personalized, interactive AI-powered tutors that help determine the right path for each individual learner by using applied content, interactive programming exercises, and personalized curriculum.
If we can help promote and foster the above technologies to reach their full potential, America will be transformed for the betterment of us all. These advanced innovations will provide solutions to some of the most urgent societal issues in the US to improve our health, education, nutrition and quality of life. We will better educate our youth creating a brighter future, we will better care for the sick through ambient intelligence in nursing homes and healthcare settings. All of this while revolutionizing the food creation and distribution systems of the nation. We need to have a sustainable and resilient society. To get we must grab a hold of our present and create the future we want. The future we need.