Battelle Site Predicts the Future of Technology

By: Charles Bowen

January is when newspapers try their hands at prognostication. And since nowadays our future is so largely tied to technology, I’m predicting a new site on the Web will help you de-fog your crystal ball.

The site comes from Battelle Memorial Institute, which works with the federal government and assorted industries to develop new technologies and products. In the course of this work, Battelle has compiled several technology forecasts that can help you speculate about what will be common in the years and decades to come. Online are predictions for the period from 2005 to 2020 and covering such things as nanomachines, personalized public transportation, and genetaceuticals. Supporting material discusses each development’s use in society and sometimes its political implications, if any. The result is material that could find a home in your op-ed page columns or in feature stories in your news section.

To check it out, visit the site at http://www.battelle.org/forecasts/default.stm, where an introductory page asks, “What advances in technology will you see in the next 10 years?” The site goes on to say, “Perhaps you will carry your personal computer in your jacket pocket, diabetics will receive insulin, as needed, from an imbedded sensor-delivery system, and store shelves may stock anti-aging creams that actually work. These are just a few of the possibilities that were compiled by researchers at Battelle, producing lists of top strategic technologies.” Scroll the page to reach the site’s links to its:

* Top 10 Technologies by 2005. A resulting page lists topics such as human genome mapping, high-definition digital TV, anti-aging products, and hybrid fuel vehicles.

* Top 10 Most Innovative Products by 2006. Come here for talk of cyber cash, smart maps, tracking devices, and home health monitors.

* Top 10 Breakthroughs for Household Products by 2007. The talk on the resulting page is of virtual reality products, better home waste management, and personal security systems.

* Top 10 Challenges and Opportunities by 2008. Click on this link for discussions of improved human-machine interfaces, the upgrading of mobile energy, and the convergence of technology in the home.

* Top 10 Healthy Home Trends by 2010. The discussion here turns to baby boomers fighting old age, drudgery-free housecleaning, and cleaner water and air.

* Top 10 Drivers of Consumer Value by 2010. Brand names “will still be important by 2010,” says the resulting report here, “but not if products fail to meet the first eight value points. Buying decisions on brand identity alone will decline as consumers face the multiple buying options provided by both virtual and physical shopping.”

* Top 10 Energy Innovations by 2010. “The convergence of the electric, gas, telecommunications, and water industries likely will result in one-stop shopping,” says Battelle Vice President Henry Cialone, general manager of energy products, in a report in this section.

* High Tech Haven: Forecast Predicts the Top 10 Innovations in Home Comfort and Convenience in 2012. “If you’re not accustomed to carrying around your master DNA blueprint on a piece of jewelry that doubles as a house key, get ready to by the year 2012,” says the introduction to the report in this section. “It’s one of the 10 advances in Home Comfort and Convenience being forecast by Battelle.”

* Strategic Technologies by 2020. And we wrap up with talk of microscopic cancer-eating machines, cloned human organs, designer foods, and “computers everywhere, maybe even embedded in your clothes and under your skin.”

Other considerations for using the Battelle site in your work:

1. The forecasts are just one section of a much larger Battelle site, and you can search the larger resources online. Enter a keyword or phrase in the data entry box at the top left side of the main screen and click the “Go” button.

2. For background on the company, which has been around since 1926, click the “About Battelle” link below the data entry box.

3. You also can browse an eight-year collection of news releases from the firm by clicking the “News” link in the same area of the introductory page.




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