Battelle Probes the Future

May 08, 1995

Battelle Labs, one of the nation's most respected technical organizations
and one with wide ties to industry, recently asked 11 of its finest minds to
predict the top 10 "strategic technologies" of the next decade. Their choices
were based on three criteria. Would the technology benefit the customer? Would
it give the company that developed it a competitive advantage? And, lastly,
would the technology support the business goals of that company. Here's
Battelle's list, in order of importance:

1. Genetic mapping. Progress in this technology would allow early treatment that could stave off certain diseases.

2. Super materials. Computer-based design and manufacture of new materials at the molecular level will lead to high-performance materials for such fields as communications, energy development, and transportation.

3. Compact, long-lasting and highly portable energy sources, including batteries and fuel cells.

4. Digital high-definition television. This will be a major breakthrough for U.S. manufacturers, with additional payoffs for advanced computer modeling and imaging.

5. Miniaturization of electronics for personal use. Interactive wireless units the size of a pocket calculator will serve as a combination fax, telephone, and computer.

6. Smart control systems. Cost-effective systems that integrate power, sensors, and controls will orchestrate the manufacturing process from beginning to end.

7. Anti-aging products and services. This technology will range from genetic code manipulation to new cosmetics.

8. Targeted medical treatment. With highly accurate sensors, problem locators, and drug delivery systems, such procedures as chemotherapy would affect only cancer cells, reducing side effects and damage to healthy tissue.

9. Hybrid fuel vehicles. Smart vehicles will handle several fuels, selecting the appropriate one for specific situations.

10. "Edutainment"-the marriage of educational games and computerized simulations. Many people who have grown up with video games don't find old-fashioned teaching methods to be very appealing or challenging.

Design News readers are already working in one or more of the technologies cited by Battelle. As these predictions come true, we're going to see a parade of exciting products that will transform the way we live and work.

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