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Innovation ahead: 4 key fields to watch out for in 2023 


Green tech, new virtual experiences, robotics automation, and space exploration will eventually impact our lives


The innovation landscape will change significantly as the world moves forward throughout 2023. From the rise of new technologies to the increasing importance of sustainable practices, companies and business developers must stay ahead of several key trends in order to seize opportunities and ensure the continued relevance of their operations and projects. We have identified four emerging and transformative fields that will have a massive impact on our lives in the future: green tech, new virtual experiences, robotics automation, and the new era of space exploration.   

A greater emphasis on sustainability is underway as industries become more aware of their impact on the environment and human life. Companies will need to boost all of their innovation efforts to meet the goal of a more sustainable economy. In the future, companies will be under ever-increasing pressure to promote well-being and sustainable development. To succeed, they will need to develop innovative solutions that successfully address environmental and social problems while also creating value.

We believe these will be the most notable fields of innovation to keep an eye on:


Green tech

In short, green tech is any technology designed to reduce the negative impact of human activity on the environment. Today, some of the most significant trends in the field include: 

  • Green energy systems

A new global energy system is emerging, accelerated in part by the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While many countries will need to invest in fossil fuels in the short term to ensure security, they will adopt green policies committed to a renewables build-out in the long term. McKinsey estimates that fossil-fuels demand will peak sometime between 2023 and 2025. According to the International Energy Agency’s  Electricity Market Report 2023, green energy will become the largest global source of electricity by 2025. 

And there’s more: research from BloombergNEF revealed that investment in low-carbon energy technologies (such as renewables, electric vehicles, energy storage, etc.) reached $1.1 trillion in 2022—matching investment in fossil-fuel power generation for the first time. In the transition to green energy systems, we’ll need to efficiently store ever-increasing amounts of energy for long time periods at a minimal cost. Thus, the demand for energy storage technology will significantly rise.

  • Carbon offsets, capture, and storage too

Adopting carbon offsets has become a necessary step in the fight against climate change. However, reducing or removing carbon emissions to compensate for emissions made elsewhere will not, on its own, keep the global 1.5°C threshold goal in reach. For that, we’ll need to remove existing carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon capture and storage technology remain expensive, but a 2021 Stanford University study indicates that costs could be reduced to make the technology, which is used to produce synthetic fuel, more scalable. 

  • Hydrogen-powered engines

Many people are already familiar with battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs), but another kind of electric car is gaining momentum: the fuel cell vehicle. They don’t run on electricity but on hydrogen. As a result, their exhaust gas consists of pure water vapor, making them emissions-free —Evs don’t emit anything from their exhaust, but electricity still has a carbon footprint. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are already available in many countries, and similar technology designed for aircraft was successfully tested on the ground in 2022. The year 2023 will move aviation closer to its first hydrogen-powered engine flight tests. 


New virtual experiences

We will see long-established and emerging tech companies doubling down on new virtual experiences throughout the year. Three related digital advances are likely to be available to wider audiences: 

  • Extended reality (XR) modes, such as virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) are expected to become more widely used in 2023, particularly in the gaming, entertainment, and retail industries. Meta will release new products following the Meta Quest Pro, its latest headset, and Apple is likely to launch its much-anticipated first AR/VR device later this year. Other companies like Sony and Microsoft will also release upgraded VR headsets and accessories for their gaming consoles, Playstation and Xbox. The launch of Apple’s product is expected to excite a market whose sales fell 12% in 2022, but there might be a problem: high prices for new equipment can slow VR’s growth.
  • Another topic linked to virtual experiences is the metaverse, which is still in its infancy but remains largely elusive. This has to do with the lack of technical standards that could enable the interconnection of different platforms, an issue addressed by the Metaverse Standards Forum, which commits tech organizations and companies to cooperate and build an interoperable metaverse so that users can transport their avatars, digital identities, and goods through different virtual worlds. If the Metaverse Standards Forum’s efforts succeed, the metaverse might actually become a reality sooner than later.  
  • Recent technologies focusing on the human experience and prioritizing emotional connection will be accessible to more people in 2023. One of the most exciting new platforms for digital interaction is Emerge Home, the first product to bring bare hand touch to virtual experiences. Developed by Emerge, a 2Future portfolio company, it uses ultrasound technology to create touch sensations that users can physically feel, enabling immersive, tactile experiences in virtual reality. 


Robotics automation

Robotics-based automation is evolving quickly, poising it to shape the technology landscape in 2023. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have seen significant growth in the past few years to meet the demand for automated solutions that can process large amounts of data. The time has come for companies to explore how they can incorporate AI and ML into their business processes, either to automate tasks, make predictions, or provide insights.

Automation will not change everything overnight. There is still a lot to improve. But make no mistake: AI and ML solutions will likely become more and more sophisticated, leading to a fundamental transition in how many businesses operate. Take, for example, two of the most trending applications: 

  • Visual assistants that use computer vision and AI algorithms to process visual information and provide users with actionable insights. These digital tools can be integrated into several industries—such as health care, retail, content creation, and manufacturing—to help improve decision-making, accelerate processes, and increase productivity. They are designed to find information and communicate more effectively by using visual representations, such as graphs, charts, images, or animations. Moreover, they can be used for data analysis, project management, educational purposes, etc… Examples of visual assistants include AI art generators like Midjourney and DALL-E 2 and business data analysis services as offered by Microsoft PowerBI and Tableau.
  • Another trend already gaining momentum in 2023 is the growth of natural language processing (NLP) and conversational AI. NLP allows computers to understand and respond to human speech, making it possible for users to interact with AI-powered systems in a more human-like manner. The popularity of the new chatbot ChatGPT has demonstrated the ability of AI to generate text and hold conversations, making it a useful tool to engage in customer service and perform tasks such as writing reports, composing emails, summarizing information, and translating texts more accurately.

It also raises concerns about AI taking over jobs and how it already impacts the education sector. However, we should ask, “what happens when natural language processing and conversational AI begin to be widely used in workplaces and schools?” ChatGPT and similar technologies are useful and will improve productivity, but they have flaws and evident limitations. For example, the answers to factual questions can be repetitive, misleading, or simply wrong. From now on, authentic thinking and innovative ideas will stand out more. Now is the time for companies and professionals to differentiate themselves.


Space exploration

Our last stop on this journey into key fields to watch out for in 2023 takes us to space, which offers exciting new opportunities for humanity. This year the latest phase of space exploration will be more solid, machine-based, and focused on increased commercialization. More private companies are investing in the field, with a focus on space economy. In mid-2023, lunar landers built by Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are expected to land on the Moon’s surface. These will be the first two lander deliveries of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.

Intuitive Machines’ mission, known as IM-1, is set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and plans to land with five NASA science experiments that will help pave the way for astronauts to return to Earth’s natural satellite. It will also deliver private payloads to the Moon’s south pole, including a proof of concept of the first data center to be installed on the lunar surface. The project is being conducted by Lonestar, a 2Future portfolio company. It aims to safeguard data from natural disasters and cyberattacks, create an outside-of-Earth backup of human knowledge, provide edge computing for future space missions and seamless broadband connection in space, and foster the data center industry expansion with no environmental impact on our planet. 

Ultimately, SpaceX—another space tech company in which 2Future invests—is expected to launch its Starship aircraft on top of the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, SpaceX’s Super Heavy. Collectively known as Starship, it represents a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth’s orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In early February, SpaceX completed its first test to ignite all Super Heavy engines. NASA plans to conduct its first mission with a Starship sometime in 2023. The space agency selected the spacecraft to serve as the lunar lander for the Artemis program, which aims to send astronauts back to the Moon by 2025.

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