This month Horizon looks at the latest technology to turn on power in places which are off the grid. We learn about solar power tech that's being used to clean water, bring internet to mobile phones and even sustain temporary housing pods after a disaster. We also hear from Michael Gera, who’s investing in off-grid energy companies in Africa, so that businesses can stay open and children can study after the sun goes down.
A new breed of emergency shelter with built-in solar power, a backpack that gives access to mobile charging and a bag that converts manure into cooking gas are among the new generation of emergency response kits that could help people survive in the wake of a disaster that knocks out their energy supply.
Mini-grids, mobile payments and smart meters are all helping to create an off-grid model of electricity provision in Africa, helped by bottom-up funding and low-cost solar power, according to Michael Gera, managing partner and co-founder of specialist venture capitalist firm Energy Access Ventures (EAV).
Robots won’t replace doctors any day soon, but they can already help medical professionals do amazing things. This month, Horizon looks at how robots will someday perform remote physical and ultrasound examinations so doctors can make a diagnosis from a distance, and medical avatars for elderly people that help them stay fit and safe. Plus, we see how computer games could make young people lead healthier lifestyles and how to give self-help apps more scientific merit.
How will we have enough food to feed another 2 billion people by the middle of this century without destroying our planet? Agriculture is already one of the biggest contributors to climate change. This month, we hear from scientists designing disease-resistant crops using gene editing, packing more calcium into finger millet, and resurrecting ancient crop varieties to offset the sector’s environmental impact. Plus, we hear from Dr Manoj Dora about so-called lean agriculture, which is looking to make agriculture more sustainable by eliminating waste from the production process.
Using off-the-shelf technology and innovative economics, lightweight helium balloons have started carrying remote-controlled laboratories to the edge of space and back, offering the business case for new types of science missions.
Floating research laboratories are reaching the fringes of space.
Automated and connected devices can save lives.
EU firms should be brought within ‘innovation ecosystems’ to develop breakthrough technology, according to Prof. Luke Georghiou.