Arts at UW

A World of Opportunity

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The Technology Markets Forecasting Model, based on the methodology described in FORECASTING TECHNOLOGY: FIRST PRINCIPLES , CREATING TECHNOLOGY: FIRST PRINCIPLES and FORECASTING TECHNOLOGICAL OPPORTUNITIES: ESSENTIAL STEPS, generates "vacant fields" that warrant further investigation. The fields are NOT recommended areas to enter; they are areas recommended for further investigation only. Their primary use are as illustrations of the output of the model to assist you in using the procedures to explore your particular interests and priorities.

You should not take action on any opportunity without MUCH more information than that contained herein.

Samples are organized by subject heading, alphabetically.

  1. Architecture - Marketing Design

    Vacant Field: Architectural design, which supports marketing objectives.

    As competitive pressures continue to rise relentlessly, the need to find more effective marketing tools can only become more urgent. The volume of advertising messages is now so great and so pervasive that it is progressively more difficult to communicate through the noise and clutter. Techniques beyond print and electronics are necessary. Structures, of course, have always "communicated" information, not always by design.

    But structural design can convey a wide range of ideas and can do so in a way which transcends the transient media and which can be far more credible. Quality, security, permanence, and excitement are examples of such structural "impressions."

    Unfortunately, response is limited by the fact that many designers fail to appreciate both the dynamic of the marketplace and the power of psychological effect. Architecture continues to undervalue the "utilitarian" aspects of its design, in favour of artistic attributes.

  2. Architecture, Civil Engineering - Structures, General

    Vacant Field: structural design which addresses the psychological needs of users much more fully.

    While this demand is recognized with rhetoric, very little substantive product is actually delivered. This, in turn, limits the effectiveness of other functions and markets.

    The steady shift of the economy toward the production of knowledge-intensive goods and services by motivated, skilled workers will inevitably drive the demand for structural environments which psychologically support these demanding activities. Companies with these kinds of facilities will enjoy long-run competitive advantages which will eventually become clear.

    Unfortunately, response is limited because these benefits become apparent only after a considerable length of time. Moreover, engineers and architects tend to underestimate the psychological effect of "structures", believing that it is someone else's problem.

    Psychology seems unable to demonstrate effectively the value of its insights. This deficiency is exacerbated by the fact some apparently psychological research appears trivial or scientifically suspicious.

    Even the most psychologically sensitive environments, such as schools and R&D facilities, largely ignore the established laws of psychology.

  3. Biology - Computing

    Vacant Field: computer tools to advance biological understanding.

    The distinguishing characteristic of all biology, and of human biology in particular, is its extreme complexity. Moreover, the heart of biology, reproduction, is essentially an information transmission problem. Mastering complex information, of course, requires computer manipulation.

    Response is limited by the lack of experience by parties on both sides of the issue. Of course, a detailed knowledge of biology is not necessary to provide computer platforms for biological analysis.

  4. Biology - Research Tools

    Vacant Field: relatively inexpensive research tools for biotechnological research.

    This demand arises from the great potential of the biotechnology and the scope of its applications. However, advances have been painfully slow, in part because the number of players is limited by expensive, elaborate research techniques. Improved research tools are needed to expand the scale and speed of research.

    Response is limited by the relative failure to recognize research tools as a product in its own right. Moreover, the entire process of research and development is under-appreciated and under-studied.

  5. Biology - Technologies, General

    Vacant Field: biological technologies.

    This demand is driven by the increasingly high priority demand for health care and the scope of non-health applications for biotechnology. Moreover, basic advances in biotechnology will have very broad effects, especially in health care. The potential applications are at least as broad as those for the computer industry.

    Response is limited by the sophistication of the experimentation and the fact that this area remains overshadowed by the glamour of the computer industry. Moreover, it is assumed, with inadequate evidence, that most advances will be made by large pharmaceutical companies. And there have, as yet, been no role model persons or companies.

    Because the domain of biotechnology is so vast, there are selected areas which are accessible to experimentation and are relatively inexpensive.

  6. Civil Engineering - Non-load Bearing Structures, Entertainment

    Vacant Fields: non-load bearing very large structures for the entertainment and recreation industries. With such structures, these industries will be able to pioneer dramatically new services.

    The demand is driven by the strong overall growth of the entertainment and recreation markets and the very large number of applications and iterations of these structures.

    Response is limited by the notorious lack of imagination in the entertainment industry which does not know what to ask for. In addition, civil engineering tends to disregard its applicability to entertainment and recreation.

    The use of new materials is an avenue almost completely unexplored.

  7. Civil Engineering - Structures, Entertainment

    Vacant Field: large structure specifically designed for new forms of entertainment.

    The demand is driven by the general expansion of the entertainment industry and the fact that each new entertainment product relentlessly and rapidly becomes obsolete. Also, structures afford "real" experiences, those of which video games are incapable. And these structures, appropriately designed, should be capable of offering a series of easily changed experiences.

    Response is limited by the classic problem that the demand for structures is waiting for product to be mounted and entertainment product developers await appropriate facilities. The latter, of course, have a very restricted view of what could be constructed. Of course, the relatively high capital cost of such structures slows the response.

    The structures will have to be highly flexible and able to evolve, created in very close collaboration with the entertainment industry.

  8. Computing


  9. Electrical Engineering - Energy Generation

    Vacant Field: energy generation technologies. The majority of the planet's consumers and workers are unserviced by dependable and adequate power supplies.

    The long-term demand for energy is consistently underestimated, in reaction to recent overestimates and other mistaken assumptions. However, rising economic growth throughout an increasing proportion of the world's population will be a very strong stimulus to energy demand.

    The very great scale of many energy generation technologies is the main obstacle to supply responsiveness.

    Scale experimentation merits much more investigation, as do alternative technologies. The applicability of physics is underappreciated in this area.

  10. Engineering - Containment Technologies

    Vacant field: the safe containment of every kind of dangerous material, using every kind of device from storage tanks to dumps.

    The use of dangerous materials continues to grow rapidly both in the number and volume of such materials and in the number of places around the world where they are being used. The emerging economies of Asia are an area of particular need. Moreover, the growing of world trade is naturally increasing the need to transport dangerous materials, a specific technical challenge in its own right.

    Of course, leakage from existing sites, essentially the dumps they were originally called, continue to threaten plant and animal safety. Our increasing understanding of the dangers involved in some materials is also increasing the need (quite apart from instances of unscientific hysteria).

    Finally, an increasing social emphasis on safety adds to the urgency and the pressure for public regulation.

    The lack of response is partly the result of the glamorous ?? nature of dumpsites and partly the unfounded assumption that the technical problems are straightforward and afford no occasion for sharp improvement or innovative solutions. There is also the untested assumption that recycling, reduction, re-use and regulation will in due course reduce the need for containment altogether.

    Of course, the complexity of the containment problem suggests a range of solutions, some of which will surely be proprietary. However, the lack of progress is also explained by a failure to recognize that a successful containment design/service is as much an economic problem, as a technical one.

  11. Engineering - Cost-Saving Technologies

    Vacant Fields: cost-saving technologies.

    As competitive conditions grow ever more stringent, an increased demand for effective cost-saving technologies is inevitable. While the market demand for a new function is always open to question, the demand for a cost-saving technology is almost never in doubt. Fierce competition relentlessly presses profit and cost-saving is usually necessary for economic health, often for survival.

    Response has been limited by the fact that in the inflationary periods of the past cost-saving was not an easy sell. Moreover, the creators of new technology are often by education and inclination more interested in delivering new functions, rather than in making an existing process more efficient. And both customers and suppliers often fail to see cost-saving as a sophisticated process that challenges creativity.

    Cost-saving solutions rarely use a comprehensive approach which integrates machine, software, process and human factor.

  12. Engineering - Diagnostic Technologies

    Vacant Field: non-invasive medical diagnostic devices and procedures.

    The acute need to restrain health care costs throughout the industrial world provides a ready market for any innovation which lowers the cost of an existing diagnostic approach. In addition, there are a growing number of persons who want to monitor their own health, independently of physicians, a logical development in a progressively better educated society.

    Response is limited by the perception that R&D in this area is very expensive and requires sophisticated medical knowledge. The governmental regulatory barriers are also often exaggerated. In fact, the barriers to entry are relatively modest with respect to both capital and knowledge; they are lower, for example, than those for much of software development.

    There are a very large number of unexplored technological avenues.

  13. Engineering - Health Care

    Vacant Field: engineering technologies in the health care industry. Applications involve every aspect of the industry, from diagnostics to home-care.

    A society of increasing affluence will continue to increase its health care priorities; health care expenditures will rise as a proportion of GDP. The effect of public health care policy is profound in all countries in the industrial world.

    Response tend to be uncoordinated and haphazard, relative to the scale of the demand. Companies most frequently pursue relatively narrow product categories and potential entrants, companies and individuals, tend to view this area as "outside" their competence, solely because it involves human life.

    Engineering still fails to see and study the human body in its guise as the most sophisticated of machines.

  14. Engineering, Science - Research Tools

    Vacant Fields: research tools.

    Research and development will be a growth industry in its own right and will command an increasing share of the GDP. Suppliers to this industry will enjoy strong demand.

    The accelerating pace of change both forces the need for new solutions and invites it with more problems. Moreover, without innovation competitive advantage is rarely possible. And even this advantage erodes so quickly that innovation must be continuous. The standard of performance is also rising and the requires each innovation to be more aggressive than before; otherwise no competitive advantage will be provided.

    The response is limited by the number of skilled and motivated researchers, a problem not easily resolved. If doing research is a challenging endeavour, then creating ways, tools, to do research may be the greater challenge. Of course, activity is limited in a somewhat primitive society which does not yet truly believe in the scientific method, in the rigorous pursuit of the truth.

  15. Engineering - Safety

    Vacant Field: safety products and safety features in all product design.

    Safety will become much more a consumer-driven demand, rather than a regulatory one, even as the regulatory requirements rise. Products which cannot afford minimum safety conditions will face mounting disadvantage.

    The steadily aging population is a major factor increasing safety consciousness. This will attract the attention of government which will notice the number of older voters and which wishes to "take action" without significant public expense. Moreover, the limited number of young persons will tend to make society manic about their safety as well. In a tumultuous society, the desire to take refuge in "safety" will be intense.

    Response is limited by the perception that safety often corrupts design and that in the past safety was a difficult sell. And relatively few have specialized in the combination of skills and interests which produce "safety". It is only rarely appreciated that safety is an intangible value, not a clear set of technical specifications.

  16. Geological Engineering - Technology, General

    Vacant Field: geological technologies.

    Demand is driven by such factors as the expected sharp increase in the global consumption of mineral products per person which arises from the continued economic expansion of the industrial world. Also, there will be an increase in the demand for "speciality" minerals for increasingly sophisticated purposes.

    Response is limited by the volatility of the commodity markets which confuses potential suppliers of geological technology and adds to their perceived risks. As well, geology is seen as neither glamorous nor trendy.

    The low cost and accessibility of many experimental techniques produces a surprising lack of response.


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    This page was last updated 21 July 1997.
    Contact the Economics Department with queries about the information provided.