Some technologies that have become popular this year, like solar power, were discovered several decades ago. While we have not even heard of others before (for example, quantum teleportation). So, here are the 10 best technologies of 2014.
1. Solar cells
2014 has become a significant year in the history of solar energy use. Several giant solar farms have been launched in America alone this year. The largest of these, located in the California desert, produces about 392 megawatts of power, which provides 140, 000 residential homes with electricity.
2. 3D printing
Over the past year, 3D printing technology has been used to create things from almost all areas: from furniture, clothing, aircraft to cars, houses and parts of the human body.
Also, 3D printing began space exploration. Last summer, the first space printer was delivered to the ISS, and in November it printed the first part.
3. Augmented reality
Add additional graphics, sounds, virtual prompts, touch sensations and even smells to the usual perception - all this is possible with augmented reality. A striking example of the use of technology is Google Glass glasses.
Land Rover has developed a technology for displaying additional graphics on the car's windshield. Moreover, not only navigation information will be displayed, but also data on the presence of nearby pedestrians and other vehicles.
4. Human-computer interface
This year, scientists have learned to better interpret brain signals and convert them into messages that a computer can understand. Not so long ago, a way was developed by which a person managed to control the cursor on a computer screen with the help of the brain. But now science has advanced even further.
In May 2014, a team of scientists developed a technique that allows pilots to precisely control the movements of an airplane simulator without touching any controls.
Several impressive exoskeleton designs have surfaced this year. The US Army has developed a prototype of the TALOS tactical assault suit that protects its wearer from bullets and helps him with tough physical tasks.
Daewoo shipbuilders have created their own version of the exoskeleton - designed to help lift and carry heavy loads for warehouse workers.
6. Wearable electronics
Wearable electronics or activity trackers have grabbed a significant chunk of the consumer market this year. Devices that collect information about the condition and physical activity of their owner have become a real trend.
If earlier, in order to get at least part of the data on how people move, scientists had to weigh the subjects with sensors, now it has become much easier to collect an impressive amount of statistics. We are looking forward to the results of the analysis of this information.
7. Quantum computing
Research in quantum computing is still in its infancy. But in 2014, we already felt that a quantum computer is only a matter of time.
The documents released by Edward Snowden earlier this year told us that the US NSA was building a cryptological quantum computer. Such a computer will be an order of magnitude faster than any existing supercomputer. In addition, it will be impossible to hack, thanks to some laws of quantum physics.
Also in 2014, we learned that the NSA isn't the only one working hard to build a quantum computer. In September, Google hired physicist John Martini and his team at the University of California to develop a chip that uses quantum computing.
Other news comes from a group of researchers at the University of Geneva and a NASA laboratory - they managed to teleport the quantum state of a particle of light to a distance of 25 kilometers.
8. Thermonuclear energy
Thermonuclear energy has always been unattainable and it seemed that its synthesis would not become a reality for many decades to come. However, it was in 2014 that we got closer to fusion energy as never before. Lockheed Martin researchers have demonstrated the possibility of creating a reactor that will fit in the back of a truck and generate 100 megawatts of electricity.
Scientists claim they can build a prototype in a year and a fully working model in 10 years.
Cloaking technologies have long been used in science fiction. However, for real research laboratories, this technology is still quite new.
Until this year, most scientists who succeeded in camouflaging could boast of hiding an object from magnetic waves, a cloak of sonic invisibility, or even the ability to make an entire city immune to seismic waves.
However, it was only in 2014 that what we wanted was achieved. Researchers from Rochester have used special components to hide an object from the visible spectrum of light. Professor John Howell of his team used optical lenses to redirect the "light". Their method is not yet perfect and needs some work, but it is quite simple.
10. "Floating" architecture
News of melting glaciers and an imminent rise in global temperatures has spawned many architectural designs based on a "floating" ideology. A floating farm for collecting melt water, a floating beach in New York, a water power plant that is not afraid of tsunamis or even an underwater city are just a few of them.