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2019

Recovering water out of thin air

Fog catchers have been providing water to people in dry, mountainous regions for decades. Due to climate change, more regions get drier, pushing the need for this technology.

The end of Moore’s law reign

Since the 1960s, Moore’s law has guided the production of processors and transistors. However, the continuous shrink of silicon chips approaches physical limits.

The perils of ranking

Global lists are a key source of information for students choosing a university. But how relevant are they to the learning experience?

Using data to make cities greener

As politicians stall when it comes to dealing with climate change on a national level, local data-based projects are trying to reduce carbon emissions on their own doorsteps

2018

Bringing tech to the farm

Technology is helping farmers feed the world. It can also make agriculture more environmentally friendly – for conventional and organic farmers alike.

Where does
my food come from?

Consumers want to know where their food comes from, but most of the time they still don’t know – a major problem in the event of contamination. Various solutions could make supply chains more transparent.

Europe’s answer to GPS

When Galileo is fully functional in 2020, it will provide the most precise navigation ever, even at the North and South Poles.

Riding the EdTech wave

Start-ups are moving into educational technology. Some offer university courses while others advance company training by designing video games.

Drones designed like bugs

Hundreds of millions of years of evolution have given insects the ability to fly efficiently and robustly. Roboticists are taking note.

Plastics under fire

As environmental pressure increases, industry is responding with innovative products made from organic sources and more responsible use of plastics derived from petroleum.

Finally, intelligent dolls

The days when Barbie thinks only about what to wear are over. Smart-Gurlz has designed a doll to teach young girls about computer programming.

Displays of the future

From LCD televisions to the latest force-sensitive touchscreen technology, electronics and photonics are pushing the envelope ever outward.

Building circuits of light

Move over, electrons. Ton Backx and his team are putting photons front and center as they lay the groundwork for the coming era of photonics.

Sharing artfully

WeTransfer is a Dutch start-up expanding into the US and into mobiles, while remaining faithful to its user base: the creative scene. The new CEO explains his strategy.

2017

The German cloud

The country is getting a lot of attention for its strict privacy laws. But is it the only option for a data-safe harbor in Europe?

Patch me if you can

To spread viruses and malware, hackers take advantage of loopholes in IT system. Vulnerability fixes exist, but users download them all too rarely.

Search for rigour

While the scientific method strives for objectivity, experimental results are still prone to unconscious bias and error.

Team players

Machines are getting much better at learning from humans and interacting with them. The next challenge: getting robots to talk to each other.

Life-saving lessons

Linking engineering and medicine has led to better diagnostics, drugs and treatments. But it’s not always easy to collaborate successfully.

Europe sees the light

To reach their full potential, the most innovative European start-ups often have no choice but to let American giants buy them. But this is changing.

The electronic biped

Humanoid robots are finally learning to charm us. Can French-founded SoftBank Robotics stay ahead of the competition after a decade at the forefront?

Flying the “big science” flag

Europe is once again on the hunt for emerging research and development trends that will spawn radical social and economic rewards in years to come. Discover three of the candidate projects.

Focus on Russia

Russia has produced an array of new tech companies since the late 2000s. But these start-ups remain virtually unknown outside the country’s borders.

War without humans

Lambèr Royakkers of the Eindhoven University of Technology analyses the dangers of having machines make life-or-death decisions.

The power of nudging

Gently swaying people to act differently is a trick long known to advertisers. Several initiatives have proven its benefits for implementation of private and public policy.

It’s time to eat better

If 10 billion people are to be fed we need to drop fashionable, damaging diets that have no evidence base and get behind rational advances in food science.

Challenging innovation

A study has questioned the benefits of robotic keyhole surgery for prostate cancer, so why are some experts still championing the technique?

2016

Labs without borders

Designers working with biologists and engineers: not so long ago such collaboration would have been unusual. Now it is at the heart of European Science.

All eyes on Eindhoven

Once dominated by light-bulb manufacturer Philips, the Dutch city is now home to a dynamic university and its circle of start-ups.

Power to the people

Citizen science relies on the public’s curiosity and enthusiasm – not to mention computing capacity – to supplement the work of scientists.

All Eyes on Ireland

Dublin’s “Silicon Docks” may be known as a welcome destination for U.S. tech giants, but the Emerald Isle has plenty of native innovation to shout about .

Our weighty new view of the universe

The recent discovery of gravitational waves has given us a completely new tool for observing the sky. Technologist spoke to some of the scientists listening for the miniscule ripples in space-time.

The connected athlete

Amateurs can now enhance their performance and their health by using wireless devices and biosensors that monitor behaviour, environment and physiology.

Ending the pain

Computer simulations and data analysis can now help prevent injuries, while individual prostheses hasten the recovery process.

Lights out over Ukraine

Hackers were most likely behind a power outage that affected 700,000 people in western Ukraine in December 2015. What actually happened?

Clearing congestion

It can be difficult to effect behavioural change in large cities, but Stockholm and London have shown that a well-conceived nudge will deliver results.

Bikes are back

Cycling is healthy and good for the environment – so no wonder bicycle use in some European cities has doubled since the early 2000s.

The Vizzualiser

Relying on attractive and informative data visualisations, Craig Mills is on a mission to use hard evidence to bring environmental issues to life.

2015

Keeping the data safe

What if Estonia’s system is hacked? And what if an unsavoury government, domestic or foreign, got hold of Estonia’s information?

Life after Skype

Estonian programmer Jaan Tallinn helped create the file-sharing application Kazaa and then the famous video-call system. Now he wants to save the world.

The russian legacy

As the big neighbour to the east rattles its sabre once again, Estonia is confident that its technology will allow it to survive, no matter what

The land of e-everything

From medical records to taxes to ID cards, Estonians rely on – and trust – information technology more than any other nation in the world.

Year of the light

Everywhere you turn, optical engineering is at the heart of new technologies. No wonder 2015 has been named the Year of Light.

The shades of grey

The vision of a world in which everyone lives longer and better is attractive – but for societies the changes will be over-whelming. An ethicist and a sociologist discuss the implications.

Sending a signal

Computer-science wizard Frederic Jacobs creates a new app that makes cryptography seamless and freely available to millions of mobile users

The sins of peer review

More than one million scientific articles are published every year. The process that was established to control their quality is increasingly being called into question.

Master of fragrances

The exclusive creator of Hermès perfumes Jean-Claude Ellena revisits his brilliant career, revealing a glimpse of his perfumer’s palette.

The DNA gold rush

Thousands of labs and hospitals are eagerly awaiting the portable sequencers that will make bedside genetic analysis a reality.

The high price of inaction

For more than 40 years – ever since the Great Oil Crisis of 1973 – scientists, governments and media have been warning that the world must reduce its dependence on fuels derived from hydrocarbons. Initially, the main worry was supply – would the world run out of oil and gas before we found alternatives? But by the 1980s, an even greater danger came to the fore: climate change, aggravated by the massive amounts of CO2 being spewed into the atmosphere by oil-derived fuels.

2014

Think yourself healthy

The vagus nerve, which connects the brain to various organs, plays an essential role in the mind-body relationship. Can you train it to make you happy?

The invisible killers

With its horrible symptoms and 80% mortality rate, Ebola fever is especially frightening. The cases in Spain and the U.S. served as a reminder that procedures for strict disinfection, while simple on paper, are less so in practise. Even the Western health system cannot entirely protect us from this virus.

The content hunter

Martin Stiksel, founder of Last.fm, is back with an even more ambitious project: to organise the entire web according to each user’s behaviour.

Beating the Superbugs

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise, but the pipeline for new drugs is drying up. Researchers are developing new strategies to avoid a resurgence of illnesses that once seemed easy to cure.

Attack of the clones

Annoying to some but completely normal to others, copying has become an established business model in the world of start-ups and smartphone apps.

Take it, use it, change it, create

You no longer need to be an electronics wizard to build sophisticated devices. “Makers” like the four profiled on these pages are unleashing their creativity thanks to Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards.

The audiophile

Four Danes have created award-winning upmarket headphones. One of them describes the challenges of fusing design and audio engineering.

Power from thin air

Mobile devices need energy – lots of it. Instead of focussing only on improving battery performance, some scientists are looking at the ambient energy that is all around us.

To frack or not to frack

Can America’s shale-gas revolution be repeated in Europe? The furore over earthquakes and chemicals has obscured more important issues.

The power of thought

An amazing project may enable paralysed humans to walk again, with the help of an exoskeleton controlled directly by their thoughts.