Three hundred people gathered at the Ben Franklin Building in Wilmington on Wednesday for Delaware Technology Forum’s 2015 Top Technology Trends event.
Attendees had the opportunity to experience live demos from a handful of Delaware’s emerging tech startups and innovators, including Cnverg, CD Diagnostics and a Google Glass collaboration between Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the Digital Vikings.
“Delaware is playing an important role in driving these trends forward, yet in a surprising way,” said Rick Sommer, president of the Tech Forum. “Today, innovation is coming from not only the corporate R&D departments, but it is being created in our universities, the regional incubator programs and from small and mid-sized businesses.”
But first, Delaware futurist Jim Lee took the stage with WDEL’s Rick Jensen to talk about seven of the top emerging technologies in Delaware right now. And Lee would know — he founded Strategic Foresight Investments after studying foresight at the University of Houston.
Here are the trends he’s keeping tabs on:
1. Incubating Innovation
Lee gave a nod to some of the spaces in Delaware where startups are created and nurtured, including 1313 Innovation, coIN Loft, Delaware Technology Park and Wilmington University.
“I think of these as sort of social fusion and reactors,” said Lee. “Because if you put a lot of smart people together in a small space, you get a lot of energy and lot of really interesting ideas coming out.”
2. Digital Finance
“Half of all Americans carry less than $20 in cash,” said Lee. “We’re quickly moving towards becoming a cashless society.” He shouted out Capital One (also the event’s sponsor) and former Delaware crowdfunding startup USEED.
3. Additive Manufacturing
Also known as 3D printing, or what Lee calls the “democratization of the means of production.” Lee referenced Delaware 3D print shop Sovereign Air and founder Joe Otto.
4. Healthcare Advances
These are the technologies that allow us to better care for our growing aging population. “When you go to the hospital, the most common source of joint failure is something called paraprosthetic joint infection,” said Lee. That’s where CD Diagnostics comes into play. “They’ve taken a nine-stage test for joint infection, got it down to one with a 98 percent successful detection rating.”
5. Clean Tech
Clean and sustainable technologies like hydrogen power and fuel cells are “near or already here,” said Lee. That includes DuPont’s work with biofuels, fuel cells, energy efficient displays and solar panels, as well as the fuel cell research coming out of the University of Delaware.
6. High-Altitude Technology
ILC Dover has made five or six generations of NASA space suits, but Lee is most excited about their work with engineered inflatables. “They have something called a buoyant airborne turbine that can lift wind turbines into the strong consistent winds well above the reach of any tower that can currently be built,” said Lee.
7. Internet of Things
“If you think about it, over the last two decades we’ve connected five billion people to the internet,” Lee said. “Over the next ten years we’re going to have 50 billion objects on the internet.” We’re reaching the point, he said, where our appliances are going to have solutions of their own. Lee praised the giant touchscreens created by Delaware startup Cnverg, as well as the Google Glass work the Digital Vikings are doing for Nemours EMTs.