As we begin the year 2024, our shared history has shown that technological changes will likely be at the forefront of most prominent industries. In addition, we can expect those technological changes will sometimes help companies find solutions to problems that affect only a small part of that company’s interests. However, by allowing the development of these niche technologies, companies can corner the market on prospective clients for the remaining inventory of that company’s technology.
Technology in Building Design
Architecture firms have embraced the need to turn to innovative methods to design for today’s clients. 3D printing has now made its way into the architecture field, enabling project managers to envision a completed building. Computers can construct perfect replicas of buildings, providing an intricate look at buildings of all sizes.
Sustainability is becoming a priority in every important industry, and architecture has begun adopting projects billed as Green Technology. However, architecture has now gone beyond the trend of environmentally friendly design to buildings created with environmentally resilient design. Those buildings use materials that save resources and funds for their users and also adapt themselves to future changes in climate, weather, and usage. Some modern buildings now utilize niche technologies like biophilic design (including elements of nature that are brought indoors.)
Although today’s architects are looking to the future, many clients love some of the building styles of past eras. This desire has led to a practice called Adaptive Reuse. This practice will use the outdoor structure of an older building and make any necessary upgrades and repairs. This will not only fulfill the wishes of clients who want a home with a more aged appearance but will ensure that the home meets modern standards.
Technology in Mill Grinding
One of the pieces of equipment required for mining operations is called a grinder. A grinder is a mechanism that grinds solid materials found in the mine and transforms them into usable materials for clients who need them. Mining equipment companies use mill liners to coat and protect the mill grinders from the impact of grinding the materials.
Mill liner professionals make these liners with steel inserts which include steel or other metals. Experiments have been done using online research to determine the best material for these liners. Calculations have been done to discover the exact amounts of each ingredient that could render composite liners the best possible strength to withstand the actions of grinding. In this way, niche technologies have discovered the suitability of such composites as rubber with ceramic inner supports.
Due to continued searches for the characteristics of the ideal material composition, mill liners can now be created with different capacities and ordered to be used with varying densities of materials. During 2024, according to Marketwide Research, the manufacturing of mill liners is expected to shift to Pacific countries like China and India. The materials used for making mill liners will also likely include more composite materials.
Technology in Patent Law
Patents protect inventions from being used by another person without the inventor’s permission. Patents for physical products or for intellectual property like books or songs can be granted. Technologies can also be patented.The laws that govern patents are known as patent laws.
Technology patent lawyers often determine which ideas or inventions are new and eligible to be patented. According to Up Counsel, Microsoft and Google frequently receive technology patents. The same source reveals Microsoft recently patented niche technologies such as the Diary-free Calorimeter, which can calculate a dieter’s nutritional intake by tracking their weight and exercise. An additional example of a new Microsoft technology is a program that gives users the correct way to pronounce the titles of programs that can transform text into speech.
One of the most significant recent increases in requests for technology patents has occurred with the use of Artificial Intelligence. These technologies have revolutionized the ability of companies to compose content for their websites and social media pages. It can help create advertising posters and create promotional materials.
Technology in Robotics
Robots used to be science fiction subjects, but they’re now in use in many industries. According to the International Federation of Robotics, more than half of manufacturing systems will be utilizing machining robots to produce their merchandise within the next ten years. The same source states that large companies have already harnessed many of the benefits of robotics, while smaller companies have been slower to adopt its use. Part of the reason for this is the cost of establishing systems that use robotics.
Another reason for hesitation is that small businesses often produce small batches of diverse products, and they’ve found it a challenge to acquire a robotic system that can handle multiple product types. According to the Harvard Business Review, newer technologies have been developed to combat this problem. These programs include collaborative robots (nicknamed “cobots”), which can be programmed to perform multiple functions within a single industry.
Because of these adaptations, robotics have found its way into producing niche technologies. Robots have been successfully used in mining operations during the pandemic and in the subsequent years. In addition, they’re now being utilized to manufacture aerospace components, defense department drones, and specialized medical devices.
Technology in Surface Markings
When a driver pulls into a parking garage or other locations with visible parking spaces and directional signals, those markings are protected by vehicular traffic coatings. Years of wear and tear from vehicles and exposure to weather elements make these coatings a must. From the time of their first usage, there have been many changes in the ingredients of the coatings.
Modern development has made it possible for those who need these surface coatings to be selective. They can find coatings specially made for the surface they need to have covered – and then further narrow it down to formulas for pedestrian traffic versus vehicle traffic. According to the blog at Build Meets World, some of the newest solutions contain PMMA/PUMA (Polymethyl methacrylate and polyurethane methacrylate.) These formulas were developed for clients who need a solution that dries quickly.
Some coatings are intended to be decorative, using special color chips, and some can be designed to display corporate logos. Decorative coatings can be used in any commercial setting and are used on commercial helipads to increase branding strategies, or to direct vehicle parking within parking lots. The degree to which decorative coatings can be customized has given rise to niche technologies for companies who want to style their parking lots and walkways with increasingly imaginative patterns.
Technology in Infection Control
Infection control has always been a priority for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. During the 2020 pandemic, although disinfection was even more crucial, the risk of infection for staff members created a need for disinfection done by non-human methods. This dilemma led to the introduction of UV equipment for hospitals. This technology is often applied by roving robots featuring columns of UV light.
According to Adibot, UV light has been shown to clean the air in the room. These UV devices come in several sizes and are typically made as traveling robots. For rooms with a heightened risk for infection (such as isolation rooms and labs), stationary columns are installed. Some patients whose threatened immune systems present a need to be shielded from incoming infection (referred to as ‘reverse isolation’) also require fixed UV columns.
Since the first hospitals began to use these devices, innovative researchers have tried to further perfect them. Some of the niche technologies include UV robots that use cameras for clients who want to add an observation feature to their device. Clients attempting to conserve energy have requested motion-detecting sensors, which activate emission of UV light only upon detection of people in the area.
Technology in Speed Detection
When a driver is coming down the street, there are often police officers hidden on either side of the street. Until recently, these officers used radar to detect speed violations. Modern technology has now evolved to use laser radar guns (sometimes called LiDAR guns), which can be used without being detected by the car being tracked. According to K40, lasers also provide police officers with the ability to target a specific car from a greater distance.
Laser devices emit a short blast of laser light at a reflective surface on the car (like a license plate.) When the light is reflected back onto the gun, the time it takes to return to the gun is recorded. That time is analyzed and calculated to determine the car’s speed. That speed can now be used as evidence for a speeding ticket.
Recent developments in these devices have resulted in niche technologies for officers who frequently work at night. For police officers trying to detect tailgating in addition to speeding, devices can be outfitted with a tailgating mode. In addition, some devices use cameras to film the car they are tracking, so the record of speed is combined with a clear picture of the license plate.
Technology in Water Temperature
In homes and offices, water heaters are used to provide hot water. Many new technologies are being developed aimed to conserve energy (and water) and to increase sustainability. One popular type of new water heater is called a heat pump water heater. These appliances are hybrids; they use electricity to move the heat from the room’s air into the tank.
These heaters are favored by many homes and businesses that want a low-carbon method of heating water. Companies who use these heaters should be aware that this practice will lower the room’s temperature by a few degrees. If you’re considering using heat pump water heaters, you’ll be happy to hear you can get federal tax credits for installing them. These credits – totaling up to $2000 – are given because of energy conservation made possible by these heaters.
According to Fresh Energy, heat pump water heaters can save up to one ton of carbon dioxide per year – equivalent to installing six solar panels. Another modern development in water heater design is the tankless water heater. Tankless heaters make hot water available on demand. For niche technologies with more expansive operating spaces, there are new devices called conversion heaters – which use their larger capacity to harness more heat, which heats water efficiently.
Technology in Mechanical Lifting
When heavy loads must be safely lifted, workers use equipment in actions collectively called rigging. Some vehicles carrying rigging equipment need to operate in difficult-to-reach places, and some loads lifted are irregularly shaped. Recent developments in custom lifting equipment have come about due to new technologies. Tools and devices that could safely handle all sizes, weights, and fragilities when lifting needed to be developed.
For example, one of the most common lifting challenges is not knowing the weight of the load – and, therefore, choosing a lifting sling with the wrong capacity. To combat that problem, new load testing equipment with calibrated weight measurements has now been created. In addition, where the lifting job requires height, niche technologies are now perfecting devices called scissors lifts. These devices can use crossed metal beams to expand and retract as the loads are raised and lowered. These custom lifting equipment to overcome rigging chall are the way of the future.
Technology in Process Serving
Process server service workers present legal documents and summonses. These documents were previously given in person. New technology has made it possible for process servers to submit documents online and for the person served to acknowledge service with an electronic signature. Because of online services, process servers and lawyers can now track a case’s progress easily.
Process servers are also using video conferencing and email in increasing numbers. Privacy and confidentiality are a high priority because of the sensitive nature of documents being handled via process service. Niche technologies have now been developed to encrypt legal documents, which can be penetrated only by customized passwords or fingerprint signatures.
With the rise of technology, it is becoming clear that if something is needed, someone is likely to invent it. With niche technologies, the interest in these products may have started small, but their existence served to spur interest in those new products or ideas. The existence of something unique within an industry can be an inspiration for another person who wants to encourage the creation of something for their niche.