Big leaps for tiny tech

What was imaginative science fiction just a few years ago is now thriving across the consumer technology spectrum – and ready for you to try.

Particle manipulation on a nano level may sound like something out of Star Trek, but is now a pervasive technology. Nanotechnology – the ability to affect particles at the molecular level – effectively makes materials lighter, stronger, more conductive, more durable and more reactive. This innovation is what enables the better-than-real life picture on your TV, the versatility and resilience of your smartphone and a less invasive but more accurate diagnostic experience at the hospital.

A Better Picture

Sometimes known as nano-crystal technology, quantum dot technology is especially impacting consumer media technology. These tiny dots enable remarkable color, providing a more energy-efficient ability to reproduce images with high color accuracy and contrast.

Powering the Future

Imagine batteries for electric cars and your portable devices that charge up to 10 times faster than today and last years longer. Nanowires and carbon sheets known as graphene are being used in batteries to conquer the challenges of faster charging and ageless batteries. Nanotechnology may even make it possible to avoid batteries altogether. There will be fabrics woven with nanowires that generate electricity to power smart sensors and even skin-powered films that can power wearables.

Nano Treatment

Among the many innovations at CES 2017, one startup showcased 3D printed circuitry – an example of how technological innovations can work together to create something truly amazing. Printing circuits opens new realms of possibility when it comes to flexibility and design.

As nanotechnologies deliver more powerful performance in ever smaller devices, the ways we monitor and improve our daily health will evolve considerably. Tooth sensors could eliminate the need for emergency trips to the dentist. Small enough to fit in an artificial or on a real tooth, nanosensors developed by scientists at the National Taiwan University monitor your oral activity, such as chewing, drinking and coughing. They can be tailored to your individual jaw motion, so you (and your dentist) will know if you’ve been overeating.

Beyond diagnostics, nanotechnology is improving treatment methods. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working on rod-shaped DNA nanostructures to help deliver drug therapies more effectively past the blood-brain barrier, where spherical nano delivery systems are often stopped by white blood cells guarding the barrier. This will have a significant impact on treatment of neurological disorders and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and brain cancer.

The wealth of nanotechnology applications continues to surprise and inspire each year. And I’m very excited to see the array of innovations at CES Asia 2017 that put the promise of tomorrow’s technology right in our hands today.

What I enjoy most about advances in consumer technology is that it’s so personal – the best and most amazing discoveries in technology are the ones that really change your life, in big and tiny ways.