Chicago, Ill. – The top three priorities for technology and innovation should be in the areas of healthcare, energy and the environment, according to a new survey released by element14. The key finding of the survey of 3,500 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, China, France, Germany and India, reveals that 59 percent of people identified healthcare as a top priority for technology and innovation, followed by renewable energy (56 percent) and the environment (47 percent).
However, these findings vary considerably by region, said element14. “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.”
More than four out of five people (86%) agree that clean energy and being environmentally friendly are important, with Asia leading the pack. In Asia, 93 percent of respondents believe that being environmentally friendly was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’. Global respondents (91%) also want energy to be affordable.
“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,” said Dianne Kibbey, Global Head of Community, element14, in a statement. “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 survey also revealed specific technologies that consumers would like to see become a reality in 2015, including universal high speed Internet (68 percent), flexible or foldable screens (40 percent), self-driving cars (37 percent), and space tourism (15 percent).
The study, Engineering a Connected World, also looks at consumer interest and adoption of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), driverless cars, robotics and gesture control. Surprisingly, the IoT is “may not be quite as adventurous and glamorous as we might have hoped. In fact, it appears to be functional applications such as connected burglar alarms, automatic engine maintenance and real-time speed adjustment that are going to be core drivers behind this trend,” according to the report.
The biggest thing consumers want to connect to the Internet is themselves. Two thirds of the respondents said that they would like to connect themselves directly to the Internet, and 23 percent would like to connect to their kids.
Wearables are expected to lead the charge. A few findings reveal that consumers are interested in wearables - 64 percent of respondents are interested in fitness tracking, 37 percent said they would buy a smart belt if the price was right, and 32 percent would like to see smart glasses become a reality. However, 64 percent of respondents are still worried about privacy issues around wearable technology.
In addition, transportation is expected to play a big role in IoT with 61 percent of respondents either owning, or planning on owning, an Internet connected car. Their biggest concerns in automotive are improved efficiency, passenger safety, lower upfront costs, reducing emissions, and increased performance.
The study is part of element14’s “Engineering a Connected World” initiative that 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.
The first challenges are already underway including “Enchanted Objects” that call for engineers to re-imagine everyday objects using embedded IoT technology, and “Sci Fi Your Pi,” sponsored by Raspberry Pi creator Pi Trading, which challenges engineers and enthusiasts to use the Raspberry Pi 2 to design applications inspired by science fiction.
New challenges are planned around vertical farming and smart vehicle technology. Newark element14 will oversee the development of more than 100 engineering concepts and prototypes, and provide support in the form of parts, tools, software, and advice.