Five tech trends ‘set to transform lives’

Artificial intelligence, bionics, blockchain, autonomous vehicles and virtual reality are set to transform lives for the better – and are already doing that across the world – a new report just out from Nominet Trust demonstrates. 

reportcover300Transforming Lives with Tech: A Global Conversation sets out key insights from five years of Nominet Trust’s influential NT100 social tech research, highlighting what it takes for tech ventures to deliver social impact at scale.

The new report offers compelling evidence to counter the tech trust deficit that survey after survey shows now exists. At a Nominet Trust event in November, UK government digital chief Matthew Gould warned industry that it needed to prove tech was a force for good in the world, to maintain public trust.

The new report – designed to trigger “a global conversation” – highlights the technologies that it says are transforming people’s lives for the better.

For the past five years, the NT100 has been an annual campaign that champions the most inspiring examples of social tech from around the world.

The report is based on an analysis of 400 NT100 projects and 10 in-depth case studies. It sets out five emerging trends:

1 Blockchain to bring inclusion to billions
The rise of blockchain secure, decentralised and transparent system is set to continue, with socially motivated ventures harnessing its potential to improve financial systems and bring inclusion to billions of people.

2 Ai to scale up key services
Artificial Intelligence (Ai) is already a part of our everyday lives, from Google search rankings to iPhone’s face ID. AI will help us handle ever more complex data to transform how we deliver key services including healthcare and education.

3 Broadening the boundaries of bionics to deepen impact
Developments in neuro-tech and smart contact lenses will take bionics to a whole new level.

4 Immersive tech to reimagine healthcare
Although best known for their use in immersive gameplay, virtual reality and augmented reality “have huge potential to transform our lives, from delivering healthcare to changing the way we learn, understand each other and navigate the world”, says NT.

5 Autonomous vehicles to accelerate access
With trials already taking place, it won’t be long before unmanned and autonomous vehicles become mainstream.

Nominet Trust director Vicki Hearn said: “We firmly believe that, when social needs are baked into the very early stages of tech development, the transformational effect on people’s lives is multiplied.

buffalogrid750“During the five years we’ve been curating the NT100, we’ve amassed a rich bank of knowledge which we’re sharing to help accelerate the growth of socially-motivated tech around the globe.

“The insights and trends brought together in our new report aim to inspire the next generation of innovators, and to encourage those who have the resources and expertise to create an environment in which socially transformative tech can grow and scale.”

The report also offers five key insights – ingredients for success – to achieve social impact at scale through technology, with two great examples of digital innovation for each:

1 Collaboration breeds success
Quipu – giving a voice to Peru’s indigenous population
Black Girls Code – giving young black girls skills for the future

2 Commercial model, social mission
BuffaloGrid – power to the people
Open Bionics – 3D-printed bionic hands

3 Innovation plus infrastructure
Zipline – drones delivering medical supplies to remote communities
Aid:Tech – blockchain technology keeps track of aid distribution

4 An ecosystem for growth
Wefarm – sharing life-changing solutions to farming challenges
Fairphone – smart, ethical phones

5 Social leads, tech follows
Peek Vision – the portable eye examination app
what3words – mapping the world through a unique three-word address

To explore the themes of the report in greater depth, Nominet Trust launches a new podcast series this month. Our Lives + Tech will discuss developments in social tech including big data, blockchain and bionics, and their potential to transform lives for the better.

Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading social tech investor. It is the headline sponsor of DigitalAgenda’s Impact Awards, taking place in London on Wednesday March 7,  in association with Berenberg.

Download Transforming Lives with Tech: A Global Conversation.