Barely There Tech: Innovative Ideas too Small to See!

Google is making contact lenses. Yup, you read that right.

But they’re not just fancy eyewear – the project is an attempt to take on diabetes. Inside the lenses, a sensor will measure glucose levels, with a tiny RFID transmitter to send that data to a nearby device. Mind blowing? A little bit. And that’s only the beginning.

You might not be able to see it, but teeny-tiny inventions in nanotechnology are forever changing the way companies design and develop products – and how we interact with our world.

Clear-Coat’s claim to fame is sitting invisibly on the front of your phone (unless, of course you choose a color or style) – but we thought it’d be fun to share a few other “invisible” bits of tech that stand to have a big impact.

NeverWet: Water? Can’t Touch This!

What if a surface literally couldn’t get wet? NeverWet has accomplished just that with a super hydrophobic coating that repels water to the point that items that have been coated have been submerged in seawater for over a year and emerge completely dry.

The excitement comes when you consider the applications: Homes and roofing that can never freeze, car parts and industrial machines that will never rust, jackets that completely repel the rain. You can apply NeverWet to work gloves, boots, downspouts, snowboard bindings, satellite dishes, oil rigs… the list only goes on. It’s seemingly simple innovations like these that can cut massive costs in industry and save consumers loads of cash in maintenance costs.

Nano-Tech Sprays: The Future Solar Tech

One of the most exciting uses of nanotechnology on the market today can already be seen at work in the field of solar power.

Nanovations

Australia’s Nanovations has created a new multi-functional, ultra hard, hydrophobic coating for the glass surfaces of solar panels that is designed to greatly improve power output by reducing the buildup of dust, while giving a four-fold increase in resistance to scratching. Oh – and it also protects whatever you spray it on from the rain, just like NeverWet.

Some potential markets that Nanovations has slated their product for include the automotive and farming industries, but the spray could easily see military applications as well. Just imagine a world without windshield wipers, or a house with windows that never need cleaning – and you’re on the right track to a Nano-enhanced future.

Check out this video of Nanovations in action: The windshield on the left hasn’t been sprayed, the one on the right has.

The inorganic composition of their spray also translates into UV-resistance and a rock solid 10-15 year lifespan. In any case, we wouldn’t be surprised if every major skyscraper on the planet is coated with this stuff one day.

SolarWindow Arrays: The Future of Solar, Period?

Unlike Nanovation’s sprays that simply protect and improve the hardware or the glass surfaces they are sprayed with, New Energy Technologies has developed aerosol coatings that can turn any glass surface into a solar panel. It’s called, “SolarWindow”.

Solar Window

Making use of the energy of natural sunlight and artificial light sources such as fluorescent and LED, SolarWindow technology uses the world’s smallest functional organic solar cells (measuring less than 1/4 the size of a grain of rice) to generate electricity. Imagine being able to print a solar panel on a sheet of paper or by spraying a coating on your windows – you’d sure cut down on your electricity bill! More exciting still – imagine what millions of New Energy-coated windows could do for a city like Los Angeles!

Ice, Ice, Baby! Ice-Cold Nano-Engineered Metal Alloys

We’ve taken our refrigerators and freezers for granted for the last few decades. The tech that powers the cooling process has historically been rather… well, enormous and clunky. Not anymore.

Magnetic Refrigerator

Scientists at General Electric have discovered a new method of cooling that uses Nano-engineered metal alloys and magnetic force. The tech delivers an ultra-small-scale solution to refrigeration, with a projected increase in overall efficiency of 20-30% over conventional fridge technology while being up to half the size of the average compressor.

As GE says, “[we] hope this new magnet-based technology will become the refrigeration and freezing method of choice for the next 100 years.”

We think it’s about time. What’s so “cool” about all this? The tech cold completely redefine how the planet stores its food, giving huge portions of the developing world access to the modern kitchen conveniences that so many of us enjoy without thinking.

It could also be used to reduce overall energy consumption on the planet by a hefty margin – and in a world where global warming seems to be public enemy #1, that’s a great thing.

Thinking Small for A Great Big Future

These are just a few of the tiny innovations sparking huge revolutions – there are also microchips that can help restore damaged brain functions, nano-engineered glass nearly as tough as a diamond, carbon fiber alloys that make transportation lighter and faster, ultra-strong cables spun on a molecular level and so much more.

If you want to see the future of tech, you’re going to have to look close.
Really close.

What do you think?