Tech Innovation

Top 10 iQ Stories of 2017

Vicky Thompson Contributing Editor

In 2017, iQ readers were most fascinated by smart drones, dumpster diving robots and a 100-year-old VR enthusiast.

For the second year in a row, drones dominated the list of top 10 most popular articles published by iQ. Readers’ curiosity continues to soar — from new passenger drones in Dubai, to artificially intelligent camera drones, to drone-assisted NBA dunks.

In 2017, readers closely followed the growth of 5G, learning how this future wireless network will power more than just smartphones.

The creative side of technology piqued the interest of readers with stories on 3D printed cars and a musical 3D printed wearable bustier.

Readers also were intrigued by centenarian Lyle Becker’s first experience with virtual reality (VR).

Here are the top 10 most popular iQ articles of 2017, according to SimpleReach:

1. Will Dubai Offer First Passenger Drone for Public Transportation?

Rapid innovation in drone technologies could relieve commuter traffic in smart cities as passenger drone services become available.

passenger drone concept

For anyone needing a taxi this summer in Dubai, things are looking up. If all goes as planned, the jet-setting city will offer the world’s first autonomous air taxi service.

Combining autonomous driving (AD) and drone technology, the Ehang 184 passenger drone is an autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) capable of carrying a person weighing less than 220 pounds. With plans to deploy in summer 2017, the AAV is part of Dubai’s smart mobility solutions for reducing traffic congestion.

2. NBA All-Star Aaron Gordon Slams Historic Intel Drone-Assisted Dunk

Tech-savvy basketball star teamed up with Intel to take bounce pass from drone at the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest during the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend.

slam dunk

Growing up in Silicon Valley, Aaron Gordon embraced technology and creativity at an early age. Today, the Orlando Magic forward uses his interest in innovation to push his All-Star basketball career to new heights. Gordon’s latest Intel drone-assisted shot confirmed his position as one of the greatest all-time slam dunk champions.

It happened on February 18 during the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, which was part of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Gordon teamed up with Intel to wow fans with a surprising slam dunk assisted by a drone. Perhaps the most highly-technical dunk ever completed during the slam dunk contest, Gordon’s bounce pass, drone-assisted dunk was a dazzling follow up to last year’s unforgettable aerial-acrobatic slam dunk assisted by the Magic’s furry team mascot, Stuff.

Read the full story.

3. 5G: The Communications Key to Autonomous Driving

As more self-driving cars hit the road in the coming years, sophisticated communications systems will rely on a fast, reliable network that’s capable of being a data superhighway.

connected driving

Self-driving or autonomous cars are a hot topic, but the road to autonomous driving is curvy and complicated. It’s full of blind turns as engineers, automakers, regulators and data scientists map out a radically different future for automobiles.

That future is fast approaching. In January, the BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye said a fleet of about 40 of their autonomous test vehicles will be on roads by the second half of 2017. Intel already has a fleet of vehicles roaming the streets of Chandler, Ariz., as well as autonomous driving garages or “labs on wheels” operating in Germany, Oregon and California.

And those test vehicles will help each other learn.

Read the full story.

4. My Automaker is a 3D Printer

How the rapid expansion of 3D printing capabilities is changing the way cars are designed and manufactured.

3d-printed bus

Before offering tinted windows and fancy rims, automakers gave buyers few ways to customize a new car. But now that’s changing.

According to auto industry experts and researchers, computer simulation and 3D printing technologies could significantly change the way people can personalize their cars — from engine parts to tricked-out hubcaps.

Read the full story.

5. AI Makes Drones Smart, Easy for Photographers

A certified drone pilot and artificial intelligence expert explain how technology innovations are making drones smarter, more capable and easier to fly.

AI drones

Difficult-to-fly, remote control consumer drones from just a few years ago are being superseded by smart, autonomous aerial robots. Powered by cutting edge computer vision and AI technologies, these new drones can see, think and react to their owner automatically, and experts say this is making drones easier and safer for almost anyone to fly.

Drone innovation is skyrocketing as more sophisticated technologies are making drones smarter and increasingly capable, according to Kara Murphy, a photographer turned drone fanatic and a certified Part 107 pilot licensed to fly small unmanned aircraft (UAS) for commercial uses.

6. 5G Networks Are Not Just About Smartphones

Next generation wireless networks are built to connect cars, homes and machines using higher bandwidth and lower latency to power more than just smartphones.

5G network

It’s no longer science fiction to see smart homes automatically control lights or alert owners whenever the refrigerator needs restocking. Already in many cities, smart cars drive autonomously, powered by sophisticated, internet-connected computing technologies.

These and other technologies that rely on intelligence from the internet are exactly what technology leaders have in mind as they build 5G, the next generation wireless network set to become available by 2020.

7. Fashion Tech Designer and Bionic Pop Artist Team Up to Make Musical Wearable

How a bionic pop artist, a fashion tech designer, an architect duo and a prosthetics company teamed up to reshape the future of performing arts.

wearable designer

After years of bringing sci-fi wearable technologies to runways and industry events, designer and Dutch tech-head Anouk Wipprecht decided it was time to create a wearable bustier that turned the body into an instrument. With the help of multi-media performance artist Viktoria Modesta, Sonifica was born.

The name is short for “sonification,” which Wipprecht said is the use of non-speech audio to convey information or “perceptualize” data.

Through the Sonifica project, Modesta and Wipprecht merged art, technology and architecture to create 3D printed interactive sonic wearables, including a sonic bustier and sonified prosthetic leg.

Read the full story.

8. 100-Year-Old Man Experiences Virtual Reality

Centenarian Lyle Becker’s first experience with VR gives a glimpse into how the technology can help seniors virtually explore the world.

virtual reality

Technology can change a lot in 100 years. Just ask Lyle Becker.

In 1917, Woodrow Wilson was America’s president, World War I was in full swing, the toggle light switch was just invented — and Becker, a 100-year-old former air traffic controller and Army Air Corps pilot, was born. Becker grew up in a literal little house on the prairie, a place where his progressive father figured out how to install electricity, introducing a 12-year-old Becker to the light bulb.

He’s witnessed a man land on the moon, the birth of television, and the launch of the personal computer and internet. But he’d never experienced anything quite like the digital world when he donned goggles at Intel’s VR lab in Oregon.

Read the full story.

9. Widgets to Wickets: Cricket Tech Immerses Fans in the Game

A sport steeped in tradition gets a tech infusion, as real-time data helps analyze the action.

cricket player

Lore has it that English shepherds in the 16th century swung their staffs, called criccs, like bats and the game of cricket was born. It has grown into a sport of intense strategy, technique and athletic skill, and today cricket is one of the world’s most popular sports, attracting billions of fans. Its ability to evolve and innovate while maintaining timeworn traditions set the stage for what is being called “the first smart cricket tournament”: the 2017 International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy, played in the U.K. June 1-18.

The ICC is turning to new technologies in an effort to spread that passion for the sport to other parts of the world, and move cricket deeper into the digital age.

Read the full story.

10. Dumpster Diving Robots: Using AI for Smart Recycling

Recycling facilities use robotic sorting stations and object-recognition technology to identify and put garbage in its proper place.

AI recycling

Filled with intricate mazes of high-speed conveyor belts carrying yesterday’s garbage, high-tech recycling centers use sophisticated sensors to sort plastic from paper from aluminum. While this technology may streamline sorting, it’s not smart or nimble enough to finish the job.

Behind the scenes, recycling workers continue to sort the materials, making sure cereal boxes don’t mix with soda cans. And because this isn’t just a dirty job, but a mind-numbingly tedious one, there’s particularly high turnover at modern recycling centers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But the future of smart recycling is looking brighter. Spider-like robotic arms, guided by cameras and AI — think of it as facial-recognition technology for garbage — are helping to make municipal recycling facilities (MRFs) run more efficiently.

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