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Study shows healthcare, energy, environment top consumer tech priority

element14's Engineering a Connected World Study examines attitudes toward IoT, wearables


Healthcare, renewable energy and the environment should be the top priorities for technology and innovation according to a global study of 3,500 consumers released by element14, the global online network of more than 325,000 engineers and technology enthusiasts. The study, Engineering a Connected World, also explores consumer interest in and adoption of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), driverless cars, robotics and gesture control.

The results of the global consumer research, carried out in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, China, France, Germany and India, reveal that 59% of people identified healthcare as a top priority for technology and innovation, followed by renewable energy (56%) and the environment (47%). Opinions vary considerably by region, however. For example, education is more of a priority in India than elsewhere, space exploration and aerospace is almost three times more important in China than the rest of the world, and those living in Germany are most interested in advancing entertainment via technology.

The study also reveals some specific technologies that consumers would like to see become a reality in 2015, such as universal high speed Internet (68 percent) and flexible or foldable screens (40 percent). Of those surveyed, 37 percent would like to see self-driving cars become a reality this year, and space tourism appeals to 15 percent of those questioned.

The study is part of element14’s broader “Engineering a Connected World” initiative which includes a series of global design challenges set to launch over the next 24 months. The challenges will focus on innovation in energy efficiency, food production and medical technology, and in leading them Newark element14 will oversee the development of more than 100 engineering concepts and prototypes.

“As the world’s largest community of engineers and technology enthusiasts, we wanted to know consumers’ perspectives on where engineers should apply their abilities in design and innovation,” says Dianne Kibbey, global head of community, element14. “Our broader ‘Engineering a Connected World’ initiative is designed to reflect those priorities and will connect engineers to powerful new ideas, the latest technologies and to each other to create innovative solutions to everyday problems. Through our design challenges, our Community can actively explore technology that will make people’s lives better, more fulfilling, more exciting or make a difference in how they live and work.”

The first “Engineering a Connected World” challenges are already underway. “Enchanted Objects” tasks engineers with re-imagining everyday objects using embedded IoT technology. “Sci Fi Your Pi,” sponsored by Raspberry Pi creator Pi Trading, challenges engineers and enthusiasts to use the Raspberry Pi 2 to design applications inspired by science fiction.

New challenges are also planned around vertical farming and smart vehicle technology. Specialist experts from each field have been enlisted to judge entries and mentor finalists, and element14 will provide support in the form of parts, tools, software and advice.

For more information on “Engineering a Connected World” and to download a copy of the report, visit element14.com.