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» » 2016 Technology Trends
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China passes the USA in PPP

Under Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), China's economy expanded from $11.2 trillion in 2011 to $19 trillion in 2016. Meanwhile, the size of the US economy rose from $15.2 trillion to $18.8 trillion. This has reduced America's share of the world output to 17.7%, its lowest in modern times. China's share has reached 18%, and is continuing to rise.*

us china ppp 2016 future trends economy purchasing power parity

Euro 2016 is held in France
The 2016 European Football Championship is hosted by France. This year, the tournament is expanded in size from 16 to 24 teams, following a plan unanimously agreed by senior officials of all 53 UEFA member nations. The format of the final tournament consists of six groups of four teams, followed by a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. The top two from each group will qualify in addition to the four best third-ranked sides, the same system as was applied in the World Cups from 1986 to 1994. This format generates a total of 51 games, compared with 31 prior to 2016, played over a period of 29 days.

euro 2016 timeline football sport france future

Rio de Janeiro hosts the Olympic Games
Rio becomes the first South American city to host the event.

2016 rio de janeiro summer olympic games

Apple Inc. achieves a market capitalisation of one trillion dollars
Since it entered the market in the late 1970s, Apple has continually supplied the consumer electronic industry with innovative and revolutionising products. From the original Macintosh, released in 1984, to the latest generations of handheld devices, Apple has been at the forefront of advancing the technology available to consumers.
Recently, the company's devices had begun to set the curve for new markets. The iPhone, released in 2007, triggered an explosion in touch-screen smartphones that spawned countless models by other companies, each more impressive than the last. In 2010, the iPad began the now-booming tablet market, acting as the middle-ground between smartphone and personal computer. Indeed, by the time competitors introduced their own models, Apple was already releasing its generation two tablet, the iPad 2.
This dominance over innovation in the industry, together with strong loyalty from its customers, greatly raised the value of the company. Despite lagging behind in the PC market, Apple's market cap surpassed that of Dell in 2006, its stock price having jumped from $6 to over $80 since 2003. By 2010, Apple's stock shares were valued at a record-high $300 dollars, with the company itself valued at almost $280 billion. Stock maintained an average growth rate of 59% up to 2011.
Despite the departure of founder and long-time CEO Steve Jobs, who was largely credited with Apple's success, the company continued a period of rapid growth, just at a slower rate.* Affecting this was the worsening global financial crisis. However, the demand for and quality of products pushed the company's value to sustained record high levels. By 2016, Apple reaches a market capitalisation of over $1 trillion,* becoming only the second to do so after the oil giant PetroChina briefly achieved it in 2007.*
Global economic depression has taken hold, finally putting the brakes on Apple's growth somewhat. The corporation remains at the top of the value list for several more quarters, however, and continues to produce innovative new products and technologies for years to come.

apple technology timeline 2015 2016 trends predictions apple campus one infinite loop
Apple Inc. headquarters complex, California. Credit: Coolcaeser

US vehicles are becoming more fuel-efficient
New standards enacted by the Obama administration have boosted the fuel efficiency of light duty vehicles (cars, crossovers, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks) to an average of 34 miles per gallon (MPG).*
This will reduce CO2 emissions by almost 1 billion metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil. In addition, the average buyer is saving around $3,000 over the lifetime of the vehicle - even after the higher initial purchase costs are taken into account.
These efficiency gains have come from smaller, more efficient engines with direct injection and/or turbochargers; more sophisticated automatic and dual-clutch transmissions (DCTs); hybrid-electric systems; clean diesel engines; tires with lower rolling resistance; more aerodynamic vehicles and lighter-weight materials.
The US still lags behind the rest of the world, however, and has lots of catching up to do. New vehicles in Europe and Japan, for instance, are reaching 50 MPG on average, and the majority now feature "start-stop" technology.

miles per gallon future graph fuel economy efficiency 2015 2016 2020

India's first manned space flight
India becomes only the fourth nation - after Russia, the US and China - to independently launch humans into space. The rocket used is a variant of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 2, operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This carries a largely autonomous 3-ton capsule, with a two-person crew on board. They remain in orbit around the Earth at 248 miles (400 km) altitude for seven days, before splashing down in the Bay of Bengal. The total cost of the project is about 124 billion rupees ($2.67 billion USD).*

india manned space mission 2016
Credit: GW_Simulations

India launches its second unmanned lunar probe
In addition to sending its first man into space, India conducts its second unmanned lunar exploration this year.*Chandrayaan-2 is a probe which includes an orbiter as well as two rovers: one lander/rover built by Russia, and a second smaller rover built by India. The wheeled rovers move around the surface, picking up soil and rock samples for on-site chemical analysis. The data is relayed back to Earth via the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. The team is headed by Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai, who was behind the success of the previous mission (Chandrayaan-1).

Chandrayaan-2 2016 india russia moon mission lunar space probe

The first hotel in space
Energiya - a Russian space group - launches the world's first space hotel, in a partnership with Orbital Technologies, a US hi-tech firm. Capable of housing up to seven people, it offers spectacular views of the Earth and includes a menu crafted by celebrity chefs. It can also function as a possible emergency refuge for astronauts from the ISS.

InSight touches down on Mars
InSight is a probe launched by NASA to Mars, arriving in September 2016. The name stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. A stationary lander is placed on the surface of Mars, equipped with a seismometer and heat flow probe that drills 5 metres (16 ft) below ground - deeper than all previous arms, scoops, drills and probes. InSight's primary objective is to conduct an advanced study into the early geological processes that shaped Mars. The rocky inner planets share a common ancestry that began with a process called accretion. As each body increased in size, its interior heated up and evolved to become a terrestrial planet with a core, mantle and crust. Despite this common ancestry, each of the terrestrial planets was later shaped and molded through a poorly understood process called differentiation. InSight's goal is to improve understanding of this process. It will confirm whether Mars' core is solid or liquid, and determine why the crust is not divided into tectonic plates that drift like Earth's.*

insight mars 2016 nasa probe

The Juno probe arrives at Jupiter
Launched in 2011, this becomes the second probe to orbit the gas giant, the first being Galileo in 1995. It is equipped with a camera, infrared and microwave radiometers, particle detectors, and an ultraviolet spectrometer. The mission objectives are:
  • Determine precisely how much water is in Jupiter's atmosphere, to help confirm which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed).
  • Look deep into Jupiter's atmosphere to gain a better understanding of its composition, cloud motions, temperature and other properties.
  • Map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields - revealing its deep structure, core mass and overall dynamics, helping to further explain the planet's origin.
  • Explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter's northern and southern lights – providing new insights into how the planet's enormous magnetic field affects its atmosphere.
Juno's mission concludes in October 2017, after a total of 33 orbits.* Like its predecessor, Galileo, it is crashed into the outer atmosphere of the gas giant, where it compresses and then melts as it falls.

juno probe 2016 timeline
Credit: NASA/JPL

Agricultural robots are appearing on farms
The first significant numbers of robots are appearing on farms.* These have been in development for over 20 years and are now cheap and sophisticated enough for mainstream use. New scanning and imaging technology has solved the primary problem of allowing robots to handle the varying shape of individual fruits and vegetables. The on-board computers are now able to differentiate between an object and its shadow and between green fruits, their leaves and vines. This is accomplished using an array of cameras, each picking up a different spectrum of light and creating a perfect picture of the obstacles and topography in the robot's surrounding environment.
Complex algorithms allow robotic workers to "learn" the longer they are on the job, so they become more adept as time goes on. This helps the computer to recognise a fruit that is partially covered by a leaf or similar obstruction, for example. The grasping tools themselves are based on human movements and are programmed to apply the correct pressure.
The advantages of this technology include much greater accuracy in spraying pesticides (cutting its use by 80%), uninterrupted output, and, as the technology improves, greater efficiency and speed. Initially, these robots are present on a small number of farms, often working alongside traditional human workers. However, as the years go by and the technology proliferates, more and more farms begin to adopt robotic workers. By the following decade, entire farms are becoming fully automated.
The increased output helps to alleviate the food shortages caused by rising global populations. Despite these gains, agricultural robots prove controversial. They exacerbate the ongoing unemployment crisis, with the potential of putting many thousands of workers out of a job. Mechanisation continues its unending progress, however, as another industry begins to be handed over to machines.

Laser guns are in naval use
First trialled in 2010, laser weapons are now in use by a number of warships as part of their short-range defence. "Solid state" 32-megawatt beams of directed energy can be fired to a distance of more than two miles, hitting a target moving at over 300mph. This exceptionally accurate system can protect against anti-ship missiles, as well as shooting down drones and other flying vehicles.*

High-definition CCTV cameras are ubiquitous
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) has improved hugely in recent years with a shift from analogue to digital equipment. The vast majority of cameras now record footage in high definition, with some capable of gigapixel resolution. Although discouraging crime and helping to identify more offenders (made easier with facial recognition software), this mass proliferation of security is raising a number of privacy and civil liberties issues, due to a creeping sense of "Big Brother". For instance, governments are using them to keep tabs on people to stifle protest, free expression and assembly.*
 This is especially notable in the UK – a country renowned for its surveillance culture – with more CCTV cameras per capita than anywhere else on the planet, and where the average person can expect to be filmed over 300 times each day. In 2012, there were around 1.85 million CCTV cameras in the UK, of which 129,000 were high definition. By 2016, there are 3.7 million HD cameras, a 29-fold increase.*

future cctv technology hd high definition 2016

Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) supersedes Blu-Ray
These ultra-high density discs are capable of holding 1Tb of data - equivalent to over 200 DVDs. They work by analysing micro-holograms in 3D, rather than just markings on the surface. This allows data to be far more densely packed than conventional optical technology.
The price of storage per gigabyte is plummeting - from around $1 per gigabyte in 2006, to less than 10 cents now. This is an example of the trend of exponential progress (rather than linear) seen in forms of information technology.
HVD itself is in danger of becoming obsolete, before it has even been properly established. Solid state flash drives are increasingly being used for digital transfer, some with even higher capacities, along with read and write speeds faster than any optical disc. The new SDXC card format specification has already reached the 2TB mark.
2016 holographic versatile disc disk replaces bluray blu-ray

New drug delivery methods for brain-related conditions
The main issue preventing effective treatments of many brain disorders had for years been the blood-brain barrier. This helps to protect the brain from dangerous bacteria, but it also blocks drugs from entering, prohibiting effective medical treatments. In 2011, however, a major breakthrough was made through controlled tests on mice. It was found that the body's own exosomes – tiny vesicles just 30-90 nanometres across, which are naturally used to carry material between cells – could be fused with genetic material and sent directly into the brain. A piece of genetic code, siRNA, was made to bypass the blood-brain barrier. Inside, the genetically modified exosomes succeeded in shutting off a gene, BACE1, which is involved in Alzheimer's disease.
This development opened the door to numerous advances in the treatment of brain-related conditions. It was also determined that the method could be used in other parts of the body, such as muscles, and could be specialised for an individual patient. Clinical trials begin this year, in which the method proves effective in humans. In the 2020s, radical new treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, brain tumours and other serious neurological conditions begin to appear on the market.*

exosomes drug delivery cancer 2011 2015 2016

A pill to prevent sunburn
In 2011, British researchers who analysed coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef made a remarkable discovery. Algae living within the coral were found to produce a special compound that was transported to the coral, then modified to protect both the algae and the coral from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Not only that, but fish feeding on the coral were also found to benefit, so it was clearly passed up the food chain.
After establishing how this compound was created and passed on, it was biosynthetically developed in a laboratory, creating a sunscreen for human use. Following tests conducted on skin samples, this is now available in tablet form and provides sun protection for the whole body.
Further research on this compound is underway, as it has the potential to create sun-tolerant plants that could boost world food supplies. Genetically engineering food crops to use the coral's biochemical pathways could make it possible to grow temperate crops, such as wheat and potatoes, at high yields in the tropics.*

pill to prevent sunburn

Completion of the i5K project
i5K is a five year project to sequence the genomes of 5,000 insect and related arthropod species.* It aims to identify the vulnerable regions of insect DNA, which could then be targeted with pesticides and other treatments. This could reduce the $50 billion spent globally each year to control the many diseases transmitted by insects.
It could also aid the search for suitable compounds for use as pesticides: ones that kill a targeted pest, but leave the beneficial pollinating insects unharmed. This may help in reversing colony collapse disorder, for example, which has ravaged bee populations for decades. On current trends, honeybees had been expected to go extinct by 2035 - potentially resulting in global famine.* The project could also be useful in combatting malaria, one of the world's most common infectious diseases and responsible for 2.2% of all deaths globally.
The costs of genome sequencing have fallen exponentially in recent years - making it feasible to cheaply sequence huge numbers of animals and plants.*

5000 insect genomes i5k Completion of the 5000 Insect and Other Arthropod Genome Initiative

The Strait of Messina Bridge is completed
The world's largest suspension bridge - the Strait of Messina Bridge - is completed this year, connecting Sicily with mainland Italy for the first time.* Some 3.3 km in length and 60m wide, the bridge is supported by two 382m pillars, higher than the Empire State Building in New York. There are two motorway lanes and one emergency lane in each direction catering for 6,000 vehicles per hour, a two-track railway for up to 200 trains a day and two independent lanes for service traffic and pedestrians.

The Strait of Messina Bridge 2010 2016 Sicily Italy future transport suspension bridge
Credit: NASA

China completes the largest environmental cleanup in its history
The rapid growth of China in recent decades led to some truly appalling environmental conditions in the country, particularly the developing urban areas. Since 2006, China had been the world's largest producer of CO2, a result of coal power supplying 70% of the country's energy. Smog became a major problem in cities, with lung disease affecting many millions of their inhabitants. By 2011, 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities were located in China, with Linfen, Shanxi Province the most polluted overall.* Numerous rivers and aquifers were being endangered.*
To rectify these conditions, the Chinese government in 2011 began an ambitious Five Year Plan to stem the flow of pollutants and clean up the damage done.* A tax was applied to heavy polluters, based on the output of hazardous chemicals and sewage. The goal was to fix the situation caused by the previously unregulated industrial growth, which had first attracted the polluters to the country. The resultant revenue primarily went towards restoring damaged environments. Many non-profit groups aided in the cleanup during this time. New regulations were also introduced, putting a cap on energy use. Targets were set to lower carbon emissions significantly. This went along with China's long term goal of green energy dominance.
Though some progress has been made over this five year period, the entrenchment of dirty industry and the explosive growth of the country makes it very difficult to turn the environmental situation around. It will take decades of further work before China has transitioned to a truly green economy.

china pollution future climate environment

US presidential election
The 58th US presidential election is held in November 2016. This takes place amidst unprecedented challenges - both domestically and abroad - as the global depression worsens.

US presidential election 2016

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is completed
After 20 years of construction, the first trains are now running through the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.*With a route length of over 57 km (35 mi) and a total of 152 km (94 mi) of tunnels, shafts and passages, it is the world's longest rail tunnel.
Running directly through the Alps mountain range - at depths of up to 2500m - it cuts the 3.5-hour travel time from Zürich to Milan by an hour, while the journey from Zürich to Lugano is reduced to 1 hour 40 min. Passenger trains operate as fast as 250 km/h (155 mph) through the new tunnels.

gotthard base tunnel diagram map 2017 switzerland future transport megaproject

Launch of the Titanic II
More than 100 years after the ill-fated voyage of RMS Titanic, an exact replica is built and launched by the Australian billionaire Clive Palmer. The boat sails from China – where it is constructed – to Southampton in England ahead of her maiden passenger journey to New York. Guests include leading U.S. business figures, who are treated to a dinner from the same menu as Titanic passengers on the day it sank.*

titanic 2 2016
 Source: Futuretimeline

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