Things that were once only possible in science fiction are happening in the real world today. Science is continuing to combine with engineering to produce consumer goods and other products that are making all of our lives better.

Information technology and engineering

Products that were once made up of only mechanical and electrical components are now becoming more complex, incorporating hardware and software, sensors and storage, and a wide range of connectivity options. This has been made possible chiefly by the process of device miniaturization and wireless connectivity, making the IT marketplace more competitive than ever. Of course, the technology has to be developed before any innovations can occur. One of the key components in all current technology is the load cell, such as those produced by Transducer Techniques. A load cell is a transducer that takes a mechanical force and transforms it into a signal that has an electrical output. Without load cells, technology cannot function, and there are several different types depending on the kind of equipment being developed.

Perhaps one of the most pioneering scientific and engineering feats to come about in recent years is that of 3D printing. The potential applications for this technology are vast, ranging from entertainment to medicine. For example, 3D printing has been used to produce a new handheld computer game controller made of plastic that is able to conduct electricity and contains flexible sensors. This technology could be used in current 3D printers to print electronic circuits, perhaps leading to the creation of entire units, such as remote controls, in one process rather than several. At present, the exterior of a remote control is manufactured in one process and the internal workings in another, and they have to be put together at a third stage. The creators of this new plastic believe its implications are far-reaching. On a consumer, marketable level, they claim such sophisticated 3D printing will lead to the customization of personal electronics but will also have the benefit of reducing levels of waste in manufacturing, thereby helping the planet.

3D printing could also end up saving lives. It may one day be used to print fully workable replacement human organs. Organ replacements are already being produced in developmental labs, and scientists have created prototypes of many body parts, including ears, heart valves, joins and vascular tubes. No longer will organs have to be grown, and this could mean reduced waiting times for people needing organ replacements, as well as lower costs.

Improved technology will lead to smaller and more effective units, which will have a knock-on effect of lowering prices and almost certainly reducing our dependency on the planet’s natural resources. Take nanotechnology as an example. Nanotechnology is being trialed in solar panels, and because they are more efficient than current solar panels at converting sunlight into electricity, these will cost less in the future. They also have the potential to be thinner than conventional panels and flexible, so they will be less obvious on rooftops.

Technology is already moving ahead at leaps and bounds; one day our engineers and scientists can almost guarantee us that the technology of science fiction will soon become science fact.