11 Technologies to Watch

May 8, 2019

The following 11 technologies to watch may have the next technology that changes how we live. It is old news that technology changes every year. However, sometimes those changes are incremental improvements. Other times the technology can change how we live our daily lives. At any given time, there may be an emerging technology that is about to change our lives. The cell phone's evolution is a great example of this.

You may recall having a telephone landline at home and perhaps even a time before cell phones changed our lives. Here at NTI, the eldest of us can remember having a single home phone. It was a rotary phone which required placing your finger in the hole of a circular dial and pulling it around clockwise to dial. It was moored to the telephone jack on the wall… and the telephone receiver was connected by a spiraling cord, which limited your mobility while using the device. That same man also remembers that he would rely on payphones to call someone when he was not at home, going about a normal day. And if he thought he might be in a position to take a picture of anything at all, he better remember to take his camera (and an extra roll of film). Contrast that with NTI's youngest employee, who graduates from college this month. He cannot remember a time when cell phones did not have a camera.

As technology consultants, we see many promising technologies, such as these 11 technologies to watch. We report to our clients on those technologies that might make a difference in any given projects' technology design. Over the years, this had included preparing for the future by planning the technology before the building began. We've alerted our clients to the technologies that would be necessary in the near future. Planning ahead takes a different level of vision than hindsight, which is famously 20-20 vision.

11 Technologies to Watch

We recommended a robust Wi-Fi design to answer the demand for wireless access before owners knew it was predicted to skyrocket. We helped prepare clients for new government regulations to protect an owner's rights to video content before the law made it mandatory. When cell phone use exploded and the required bandwidth for each phone with it, we worked with clients to ensure cellular coverage in facilities. We often still present a GPON solution alternative to traditional copper cable for hotel guest rooms, with a cost analysis of the total cost of ownership. And most recently, we are discussing Low Voltage LED Lighting (click the picture) and the internet of things (IoT).

The following is a list of 11 technologies to watch. It was compiled by the self-described "futurist, Christopher Barnatt. Most of these technologies do not directly impact the design and use of technology in a new building; unless the building is a research think tank or a science lab at a medical university. The list of 11 technologies is for your reading pleasure. But note that while a couple may have been considered science fiction a decade ago, one is likely to impact your future projects, perhaps by the end of this year.

3D Printers

These were new a few decades ago but have become more functional over time, having crept into many facets of business as we go about our day. These printers create real, solid objects from digital data by building them up in layers. Before Y2K, they amazed us by creating prototypes. Still, by 2020 the majority of 3D printed objects will likely be final products or parts.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The term has been thrown around for decades, but the reality of a "Cognitive Computing Age" in which any digital technology will be able to possess, or remotely access, some form of cognitive capacity is now a foreseeable reality. This technology is already being discussed as relevant to guests, employees, customers, and students' learning habits to improve quality of life.

Augmented Reality (AR)

This is a way to use technology to assist with learning by compiling and then adding information and content to a visual presentation to learn more about it. It is in use today, continuing to advance in its functionality. For example, a company using it to show what your future home might look like with different furniture configurations, different colors of paint on walls, or what carpet or wood flooring will look, complete with your choices' pricing.

Big Data

This is a way to generates value from the storage and processing of large quantities of digital information that cannot be analyzed with traditional computing techniques.


Bioprinters are a specific type of 3D printer, whose product/output are living cells which might be used to permit the creation of human or other animal tissue and even entire organs.

Cloud Computing

This is where computer software, user data, and processing power are accessed from the Internet "cloud" rather than a local desktop or organizational data center. This allows users to access their data and applications from any device and collaborate more efficiently. This technology is used by many today and by more with each passing day.

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering alters living organisms' traits by changing the information encoded in their DNA. This may involve the creation of genetically modified (GM) plants, animals, micro-organisms, and the development of genetic medicine.

Helium-3 Power Generation

Helium-3 may fuel a new generation of clean, nuclear fusion power plants. Unfortunately, helium-3 is also exceptionally rare on the Earth. However, there is thought to be an abundant supply of helium-3 on the Moon's surface. Some believe that mining lunar helium-3 may also become a large part of our "solution" to the issue of climate change.


Nanotechnology is the science of understanding and manipulating materials on a nanometer scale. A nanometer is just one billionth of a meter or the length of a few atoms placed end-to-end. Nanotechnology is driving IoT (the Internet of Things), which is already beginning to impact the operation of buildings (Smart Buildings, this month's lead article) and business. It adds efficiencies with the ability to have remote access to technology for any electronic device in the facility or across the campus.

Quantum Computing

Rather than storing and processing information using miniature transistors in silicon chips, quantum computers work with data using the quantum-mechanical states of sub-atomic particles. Due to quantum mechanics' peculiarities, each quantum computing 'qubit' can store a value of both '1' and '0' simultaneously, thereby allowing quantum computers to move beyond the limitations of binary processing.

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology applies an engineering mentality to biology. Whereas "traditional" genetic engineers splice a gene or two from one existing species into another, synthetic biologists radically alter existing life for new purposes. They have also started to create new forms of life from scratch using standardized genetic components termed 'bio-bricks.'

Given that the time from concept to opening day can be two years or more, planning for the changes that new technologies demand is critical so that the design of the technology is equipped to handle foreseeable changes. This is why NTI trademarked the phrase, Planning Before Building. It is what we do. Not all changes in technology become worthy of mentioning to our clients. Some never pan out, and many of them never pan out. You may never again hear about some of the 11 technologies to watch listed above. However, it only takes one to start changing our lives in ways we cannot foresee… as the cell phone proved not all that long ago.

by John Davis – Business Development Director – NTI

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