2017 has been another ground-breaking year for technology. From the consumer popularity of voice technology to innovations in mobile, such as wireless charging and facial recognition, technology sits at the heart of an evolving society and is increasingly vital to its future.

As fascinating as the technology itself is the fact that, rather than tech growth being solely driven by companies wanting to sell their kit, it is also consumers who are feverishly wanting to push technological boundaries, with studies showing that consumers and businesses increasingly rely on and love using technology every day.

Responding to this, there a huge amount of tech out there that’s about more than shopping or gaming. It’s about truly changing the world and demonstrating the kind of societal progress consumers want to see.

It’s this technology – often working behind the scenes – that is paving the way for us all to live better lives. Here are just three that we think are truly groundbreaking:

Tech to cure the blind

Second Sight has been at the forefront of technology to tackle blindness for a while and was behind the world’s first commercial artificial retina, to provide partial sight to people with a certain form of blindness.

Well, hold on to your AI-enabled hats because that same company has just announced that it’s launching a clinical trial for a brain implant designed to restore vision to more patients.

I won’t even attempt to explain the science behind this; instead I encourage you to read the above article for more detail. But this device, the Orion, could help millions of blind patients worldwide, including those who have lost one or both eyes. Incredible – and important – innovation.

Tech to save the environment

Just over a decade ago, GE launched Ecomagination, a renewable business strategy designed to enhance resource productivity and reduce environmental impact through commercial solutions for its customers and through its own operations.

GE invested $17billion in clean tech R&D while generating $232 billion in revenue from its products. In 2016, GE Transportation began manufacturing its Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive, which will reduce emissions by more than 70% from the previous model.

The company also launched a concept called the Digital Wind Farm, which boosts a wind farm’s energy production by 20%.

You can read more here but needless to say, after a decade, the impact has genuinely been huge.

Tech to give us all a fair start

2016 saw people with haemophilia and certain forms of inherited blindness being successfully cured by gene therapy. This is already an incredible achievement in medicine and medical technology, led by the likes of Spark Therapeutics, but now it’s going into hyperdrive.

Scientists and several companies are currently exploring the use of gene therapy for other hereditary diseases including Parkinson’s, heart disease and various forms of cancer.

While it’s impossible to say when these treatments will be ready to go to market, over the years scientists and technologists have perfected gene therapy to a point where some believe “Gene Therapy 2.0” will be commonplace within the next 5-10 years.

Truly incredible stuff that makes me wish I’d stuck with biology at school.

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These are just a few examples of the impact technology is having, or is going to have, on the world in which we live. It’s mind-blowing and awe-inspiring. But it’s also our reality.

These innovations are very real and are already making a hugely positive impact on many, many lives – sitting at the heart of society and changing the lives of the public within it.

Photocredit: Boegh, used under CC BY.

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