5 Technology and Engineering Trends for 2022

January is the time for new beginnings, New Year’s resolutions and… predicting what’s going to happen in the coming 12 months! Here are the 5 tech and engineering trends, which we predict are set to take off and make an impact in 2022.

18 January 2022

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By Mariusz Bogacki, Researcher and Science Communicator, Edinburgh

Heat Pumps

Heating up indoor spaces is one of the main sources of global energy consumption. Most heating relies on burning coal, gas or oil and therefore also contributes to global warming. Heat pumps offer a promising alternative to this conundrum. The technology transfers thermal energy from a cooler space to a warmer space using the refrigeration cycle. In other words, heat pumps force heat in from the outside, in order to warm a place inside – essentially, refrigerators working in reverse. What’s more, heat pumps double up as air-conditioning systems, capable of cooling down indoor spaces in the summer months. It is argued that because the technology merely moves existing heat around it can be highly efficient, making it a viable alternative to traditional heating systems. 2022 will see a commercial roll out of the technology in the USA.

VR Fitness

Virtual Reality (VR) is mostly known for its gaming or design applications. Yet, developers increasingly look for other applications for this popular technology. One area of particular interests is fitness. This is not surprising, as VR headsets let people play games and burn calories simultaneously, making a workout fun. Accelerated by the pandemic, which closed down many gyms and fitness centres, and coupled with decreasing hardware prices, the technology is set to go mainstream in the coming months. Game developers are taking note as more and more games – sorry, virtual exercise plans – are in the making and due to be released this year.

HIV and Malaria vaccines

Coronavirus is merely one of the many deadly viruses currently in circulation around the world. For years, scientists and biologists have been looking to find treatments for diseases such as Malaria and HIV. Both of these viruses are responsible for hundreds of thousands death globally. However, there are reasons to be optimistic that 2022 might be the breakthrough year in the fight against them. 2021 saw the announcement of a messenger RNA (mRNA) based malaria vaccine that is 77% effective. Drug manufacturers such as Moderna, are currently beginning trials for an HIV vaccine, which also relies on the mRNA technology. One silver lining of the ongoing pandemic might be that it heralds a golden era of vaccine development.

3D-Printed Houses  

3D-pringing technology has been coming of age in recent years and its applications are far exceeding initial expectations. Icon, a company based in Austin Texas, is scaling up their 3D-printing technology to ‘print’ entire houses. Following a computerised blue-print, giant robots are used to construct walls of a building by extracting layer upon layer of concrete mixture. Traditional construction is used for the roof, foundations, wiring and plumbing. Turns out that printing walls is much faster that constructing them from bricks or wood and the company says that the innovative structures are highly energy efficient and can better withstand natural disasters. Some hope that this type of robotic construction is the future and the habitat-building technology might be used one day on the Moon and Mars.

Brain Interface

A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a computer-based system that acquires brain signals, analyses them, and translates them into commands that are relayed to an output device to carry out a desired action. In other words, it is a device that allows brain to connect to and control a computer device using electrical activity of the brain. Neuralink, a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk, made news deadlines in 2021 when it announced the development of a brain implant, which allowed a monkey to play a video game telepathically. In 2022, the company hopes to test its device in humans. The initial trials are intended to enable people who are paralysed to operate a computer device.