Building on a series of past collaboration in data visualisation, in January 2018, Wond were approached by Imperial College London’s Tech Foresight team. The brief was to create a visual infographic of emerging technologies that hold the potential to disrupt current industries and business models, as well as to change radically the way humans interact with one other and with the planet.
This visualisation followed research and discussion within the Tech Foresight team between Anna Cupani, then Research Manager, Richard Watson, external consultant on all things future, and a variety of academics from Imperial College and beyond, working on a huge range of subjects, from robotics to energy management, from personalized medicine to astronomical data.
The work was matched by invaluable support by Gaby Lee, who scoped the web to identify companies and governmental bodies investing in each technology.
The Tech Foresight team discussed at lengths the best way to visualise such content in a clear and engaging way. They identified 100 new technologies capable of significant social, economic or political upheaval and after experimenting with paper and post-its, decided that the best format was a table like the one displayed here. An homage to the Periodic Table of Elements by Mendeleev. Drawing inspiration from it, each of the 100 technologies was given a 2-letter abbreviation, followed by a very brief and hopefully self-explanatory description.
The x-axis reports time and the y-axis the potential disruption of the technology, if it was adopted on large scale. Importantly, time relates to common usage or ubiquity, not initial invention. The 100 technologies (99 really) are organized into four groups. Horizon one technologies (green on the table) are new technologies that are happening right now.
Horizon two technologies (yellow) are probable near future technologies (10-20 years).
Horizon three technologies (red) are likely to emerge in the more distant future (20 years plus). The outer edge of the table (grey) contains what has been termed Ghost Technologies. This is fringe thinking territory with some ideas bordering on complete lunacy. However, while each example is highly improbable, very few, if any, are totally impossible as the list of researchers on the right proves.