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The world’s top 10 emerging technologies revealed

From electricity storage to smarter drugs, the Council selected the innovations with input both form experts within the network and industry leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting.

“These breakthroughs show the boundless potential for technology to have a positive impact on society, from finding cleaner energy to new cures for disease,”  said Noubar Afeyan, chair of the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies and CEO of Flagship Ventures

“For these gains to be realized, we need the right regulatory frameworks, strategic alliances among innovators and market leaders, investment capital, as well as greater public awareness.”

The list of top ten technologies:

1. Body-adapted wearable electronics

Worn on the body or embedded in clothes, these devices can track information, such as stress level or heart rate and give people real-time feedback about their health

2. Nano-structured carbon composites

Cars made from carbon-fibre reinforced composites are as much as 40 per cent lighter than older models, stronger and easier to recycle, offering huge energy savings

3. Mining metals from desalination brine

New chemical processes have enabled large-scale desalination, which is becoming economically feasible for the first time, allowing the mining of metals from waste water or brine

4. Grid-scale electricity storage

This would allow the saving of surplus energy from fluctuating renewable sources such as sun and wind within the electricity grid

5. Nanowire lithium-ion batteries

New batteries based on tiny silicon nanowires could have a longer life, charge more quickly and hold up to three times the power of existing ones

6. Screenless display

A 3D image projected into space can convey information that a 2D image could not and is close to becoming a practical reality

7. Human microbiome therapeutics

Drawing on knowledge gained from the Human Microbiome Project in 2012 and other research, human microbiome technology is increasingly seen as an important source of treatment for serious diseases as well as for improving health.

8. RNA-based therapeutics

Just like DNA, RNA plays an important part in protein synthesis and the transmission of genetic information. Scientific advances are combining to enable a new generation of RNA-based drugs that could help find new treatments for cancer and other infectious diseases.

9. Quantified self

Using data and specialised machine-learning algorithms, building detailed and predictive models about people and their behaviours is now a reality. This can help in areas such as medical diagnosis and urban planning

10. Brain-computer interfaces

As technology advances, it could be possible for people with disabilities to operate wheelchairs using only their thoughts.

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