Recent Inventions in the Electrical Engineering Industry
The field of engineering advances with every new technological breakthrough, and new technologies in electrical engineering are particularly exciting. This guide covers some of the most recent new inventions in electrical engineering and why they are so significant.
APPLICATIONS IN DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES
Recent electrical engineering innovations have applications across various industries — we discuss a few key fields below.
Notable recent innovations in medical electronic engineering have come in robotics and augmented and virtual reality.
One of the most significant recent inventions in medical electronic engineering involves robotic surgery. In minimally invasive procedures, robotic tools are useful because they offer precision, flexibility and extreme control. The result is that surgeons can use automated capabilities to perform surgeries that would otherwise be needlessly complex or impossible altogether. Robotic surgical technology is not likely to replace human surgeons — instead, it will assist and enhance their work.
VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY
The development of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) is one of the most influential trends in electrical engineering. In medicine, VR/AR is helpful for providing convalescent patients with an immersive way to participate in rehabilitation exercises. VR/AR is also invaluable in training tools for medical students — students can engage with augmented or virtual scenarios to become familiar with new procedures or see 3D representations of difficult-to-visualize human anatomy.
Many recent innovations in consumer electrical engineering have to do with wearable devices and electric vehicle capabilities.
In wearable consumer devices, wireless technology has been making exciting advances. Smartwatches and similar wearable devices help users monitor their health and athletic performance. Wireless technology — often Bluetooth Low Energy — means these devices can be smaller and more convenient to use because they run on smaller, longer-lasting batteries.
Innovations in wearable devices also have lifesaving potential in industrial applications. Some wearable devices can vibrate to notify engineers if they get too close to high-voltage equipment, and they can provide valuable data without requiring a smartphone for access. Wearable devices also increasingly have the technology to facilitate authentication — if someone approaches sensitive equipment without the right wearable device, the machine will not grant access. These innovations dramatically increase electrical engineers' workplace safety.
Electric vehicles have steadily been gaining in popularity, and they are almost certainly the vehicles of the future because of their energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. Tesla, for instance, recently rose to $100 billion in market valuation — it is the first publicly traded carmaker in the United States to do so — and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Industry experts predict that by the year 2030, the number of electric vehicles on the road in the United States will have ballooned to 18.7 million, up from only about 1 million at the end of 2018. Heavy investments in electric vehicle technology mean consumers have seen — and can anticipate — the emergence of various innovative improvements, including more powerful, longer-lasting batteries; enhanced charging technology; genuinely functional autonomous driving; and solar-powered vehicles. There's even the possibility of electric airplanes.
One area of technology that holds particular promise for expanding the electric vehicle market is wireless charging. Wireless charging has some current applications for personal devices like laptops, smartphones and earbuds, and it will likely eventually become standard for electric vehicles as well. An electric car owner will be able to park on a charging spot without the hassle of plugging in the car. Wireless charging docks will also be smaller, so they'll likely become easier and more cost-effective to build.
In the industrial field, a few different innovative technologies are emerging as game-changers. Here is some of the latest technology in electrical engineering for industry:
Advances in augmented reality are taking place substantially for industrial use — 65% of VR/AR companies report that they are working on industrial applications, while only 37% are working on consumer products. VR is useful in industrial facilities because it allows companies to simulate dangerous industrial scenarios without putting their employees through the actual risks. AR is useful because it superimposes data on a real visual to give engineers and technicians real-time information about the industrial systems they're working with and helps them take more informed approaches to repairs and maintenance.
More and more commercial and industrial consumers can generate their own power and even sell their surplus. This development has changed electrical delivery infrastructure, in part with the advent of smart grids.
Smart grids contain smart devices throughout their infrastructure, including in homes, offices and industrial facilities. These smart devices collect and supply data that allows industrial facilities to analyze trends and make more informed, efficient and cost-effective choices about their electricity use. The devices can predict surges in usage and prepare for the higher demand, and they detect outages at once and notify the personnel who can rectify them.
Perhaps most importantly, the smart grid allows for communication between the power company, distributors and end-users and helps boost efficiency and lower costs by facilitating a quick resolution of any issues.
Supercapacitors store energy and have higher capacitance values and lower voltage limits than traditional capacitors and can function somewhat like rechargeable batteries. Graphene supercapacitors are supercapacitors that use graphene in place of activated carbon in their electrodes.
A supercapacitor, which can often store almost as much energy as a lithium-ion battery, offers the advantages of increased energy storage. Supercapacitors allow for the power density of capacitors — they can deliver a lot of energy in quick bursts — while also providing high energy storage capabilities and charging incredibly rapidly. Graphene helps enhance supercapacitors because it is exceptionally conductive, so graphene supercapacitors are ideal for high-frequency applications, whereas traditional supercapacitors are not. Graphene allows for structuring and scaling down, so it has applications in computer processing units (CPUs) and integrated circuits where standard capacitor materials do not.
Graphene supercapacitors may also be able to combine with carbon nanotubules to help connect the geometrically unique graphene structures into a comprehensive network. This combination might reduce costs and boost capacitance and performance.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can help make electrical engineers' jobs much easier in an industrial setting. They allow for several significant improvements in engineering work, including:
- Constructing AI and machine learning platforms for more complex and capable equipment.
- Crafting complicated algorithms for data analysis.
- Developing new codes or enhancing current code.
- Processing images.
AI image processing, in particular, opens substantial new doors in engineering for industrial applications. Image processing with AI is easier because AI allows for more sophisticated algorithms — they can perform tasks like detecting structural irregularities in equipment and sending feedback to alert facility managers to the necessity of repairs, thereby promoting safety in the workplace.
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