From light bulbs and television to cell phones and GPS, modern advances in electrical engineering have illuminated, informed, and connected the world. Indeed, advances in computer and electrical engineering have been revolutionary over the past few decades, changing the way we live, work, and play. As the 21st century progresses, the technological innovations that seem like the stuff of science fiction today will be fully integrated into the lives of future generations.
Some of these innovations are practical on a personal level, poised to further shape the way we communicate, connect, and function. Other advances carry the potential to create paradigm shifts in a specific industry, which could ultimately have an impact on the public. Regardless of where the tech is coming from, it’s important for electrical engineers to understand its projected place in society
The Future of Electrical Engineering: The Personal Impact
Advances in engineering equate to advances in society, to the point where we almost take them for granted. The light bulb and the television are now part of everyday life but were once inventions that bordered on the incomprehensible. It’s important to remember that the following items may end up falling in the same category, which is exciting because that means even more innovations are ahead. For now, these advances are more than sufficient to capture the imagination.
The Flexible Smartphone with a Holographic Display
The concept of beaming a holographic image from an electronic device such as a smartphone or a smartwatch has been in development for a few years and could be a communications game-changer. The image projected from the screen can be seen by the naked eye, without the use of 3D glasses and other devices. This image can be watched by several users who are on different sides of the gadget.
The Future Smartwatch
Smartwatch technology is currently part of our everyday lives, but it continues to evolve as new innovations are added. The smartwatch of the future does not require the user to touch the screen or any part of the device. The development, dubbed SkinTrack, consists of a special ring and sensitive receiver in the form of a bracelet, which together can convert contact with the user’s skin into signals.
Currently being used for photography, reconnaissance, and warfare, drone technology is becoming more commonplace both at home and in the military. The innovations in drone technology are impressive. For instance, wall-climbing drones can approach any type of structure by flying and sticking to the target, changing its pose using a perching mechanism.
Nanotube transistors have been a huge game-changer in computing, but even they are beginning to evolve from their silicon-based design. Researchers have developed the first computer chip that uses carbon-nanotube transistors, which are smaller and more efficient than their silicon counterparts. This can lead to further supercomputing advances.
Nanoscale devices are another tiny element with big ramifications. Ranging from one hundred to ten thousand times smaller than human cells, these devices are small enough to manipulate matter molecularly, something that could make DNA sequencing substantially more efficient.
Of course, not all advances in electrical and computer engineering are microscopic. Electric cars are quickly gaining on their gas-guzzling counterparts in speed, horsepower, performance, and battery life. For instance, cars that can go more than 300 miles on a single charge have begun to hit the market.
Advances in prosthetics tech are also making controllable limbs a reality. Some of these advances use nerve-to-muscle interfaces. Others use brainwave tech to control movements through thoughts.
Additionally, the building blocks of quantum computing continue to be laid. While its applications are years away, its ability to push beyond binary language is predicted to have a profound impact on climate change, chemistry, finance, and more.
Advances in engineering have also furthered the possibilities of 3D printing. Thanks to increased precision and efficiency techniques, it’s predicted that the concept could potentially produce a broad range of biomedical and thermoplastic materials.
Electrochemical Energy Technology
Finally, electrochemical energy technology continues to evolve into a more efficient process. Scientists project the clean energy it produces can have positive, cost-effective ramifications on agriculture and other key industries.
Advances in computer and electrical engineering have been revolutionary over the past few decades, changing the way we live, work and play. From new advances in medicine to automotive technology and biotechnology, electrical and computer engineering has made great strides when it comes to improving the overall quality of life.
The advances in nanoscale devices have changed the game when it comes to diagnostics. In DNA sequencing, for example, advanced technology has created a cost-effective means for diagnosing and treating neonatal patients in a clinical setting. This represents a huge breakthrough in the way that common conditions are diagnosed and treated.
With the emergence and increased popularity of electric cars, there have been advances in electrical engineering geared toward making these cars more efficient. The current battery is less than optimal, limiting the usefulness of electric-only cars. Tesla has been digging into the problem and has created new battery systems that recharge quickly and store more energy than their current counterparts.
Electrical engineers have made impressive strides in improving the lives of those that depend on prosthetic limbs. Scientists are developing technology that syncs brain waves with the prosthetic. Now when a patient thinks he wants to move his arm, the brain sends the signal to the prosthetic which moves his arm intuitively. With more than two million Americans living with lost limbs–1,600 of them U.S. troops, this represents a major breakthrough in the quality of life of amputees.
Major advances in electrical and computer engineering mean a better quality of life and greater productivity across the globe. To learn more about recent electrical and computer engineering advances, check out the infographic below, created by Ohio University’s Online Masters in Electrical Engineering degree program.