Some positive 2020 innovations
Updated: Aug 28
Thankfully, among the global world issues dominating 2020 there are groups of passionate and committed people. Those that are driven to solve problems and make change through their experience in technology, innovation and design.
To share good news and inspire hope, below are 10 significant innovations from our own backyard and all over the world that are working towards a better future.
Hydrogen cars - in the last couple of weeks there has been talk of hydrogen cars being manufactured in Australia. It is understood that these cars are to only emit water vapour unlike fuels like petrol similar to pre-existing cars like the Toyota Mirai. The first car from the Australian-based manufacturer will be an SUV - the Snowy, named after Australia's hydro scheme, with plans of 25,000 cars produced per year by 2025. Upon mass adoption, this would help countries all over the world reduce vehicle emissions, especially as they start to rapidly rise again.
A pea-sized device that helps fix holes in babies’ hearts - otherwise known as an Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder, this tiny device has been approved in the U.S for fix holes in premature babies’ hearts. The device has already delivered promising results with some of the babies being treated being taken off ventilators days after their procedure.
The potential to combat bushfires with sound. While this is a small-scale trial in the U.K, there is hope that this technology could be scaled to drones, that would direct loud noises and fires below. As sound is made up of pressure waves, it can be used to disrupt the air surrounding a fire - cutting off oxygen to the fuel. Apparently bass frequencies work best. After experiencing historically damaging bushfires in Australia this past Summer, and extremely sever droughts, the potential to fight fires without water is promising.
Farmhouse Direct - perhaps not the newest enterprise, but certainly a significant one. Farmhouse direct is an Australian online marketplace that connects the public with farms to buy ugly and surplus produce that supermarkets don’t purchase to fight food waste.
Eco packaging - Single-use packaging was a contentious topic prior to COVID-19, but as a result of an increase in online shopping due to the pandemic, there is been an increase in the packaging waste that comes with purchases. Cardboard, plastic and microplastic waste have become rife with online orders, and many businesses and consumers are keen to find more sustainable options. Businesses such as Living Packets create a reusable, light packaging ‘shell’ that will then be returned and reused via a sharing system to allow for 0 single use packaging. Eliminating 100 billion cartons each year.
Impossible Pork - meat-free-meat alternatives have been increasing year-on-year, however, one meat that doesn’t seem to have a huge alternative market is Pork. Impossible Foods, most notably known for their Impossible Burger have introduced a Pork-style product. The company won the 2019 UN’s Global Climate Action award for their work in providing sustainable alternatives to meat due to the company’s claims that their plant-based burgers require up to 96% less land and 87% less water to produce than its meat equivalent.
Invest Your Values - A US service which won Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards, for Impact Investing. It provides too and information to help investors find mutual funds that invest in companies they believe in. We now live in a time where many companies we purchase from and invest in are expected to be transparent and ethical. By people have access to this information it will require companies to shift and will enable investors to make a better choice.
Water recycling. Water on earth is decreasing and supply is unreliable. As we are set to face more natural disasters as a result of climate change, water has been theorised to be the currency of the future. Hydraloop has patented, game-changing water treatment technology that ensures clean, clear and safe water that can be reused over again, and will assist people with being able to live off the grid. The technology can be implemented at home, buildings and hotels and is hopefully able to increase in scale so that the one day, has an infinite source of water.
5G - Somehow this has become even more controversial due to conspiracy theories surrounding the alleged correlation between COVID-19 and 5G. While 5G mobile data networks became available for the first time in 2019, they were mostly still expensive and limited to functioning in confined areas or major cities. 2020 is likely to be the year when 5G really starts to fly. The increased bandwidth will enable machines, robots, and autonomous vehicles to collect and transfer more data than ever which will be key to innovating for the future and solving many problems we face.
AI as a service - AI applications will continue to be done through providers of as-a-service platforms, which allow us to simply feed in our own data and pay for the algorithms or compute resources as we use them. Companies such as Google & Amazon are developing ways to make this AI powered service technology as accessible as possible throughout 2020. However, these are typically far more costly. As such, it is expected that a large pool of new businesses will come to market offering more cost-effective access and create a more competitive industry.
Zoe Jarousek and Kitch Catterall