Covering a diverse list of areas, Fleming talked Friday about what technologies will be making headlines in 2013 during his session on the final day of the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce’s Confluence conference.
He covered topics such as creating components of jet engines in an office, carrying around a powerful seismograph in the form of a cell phone, and wearing a computer on the bridge of your nose.
“This sounds incredibly geeky,” Fleming said when discussing the buzzed-about Google Glass glasses. “This is going to be incredibly normal in about five years.”
On stage at the DeSoto Theatre, Fleming, who is the vice president of economic development and technology ventures at Georgia Tech, reinforced conference keynote speaker Chris Anderson’s talk on computer construction programs.
“This is the year of 3D printing,” Fleming said.
Three-dimensional printers can build solid objects from design specifications entered via a computer program, and they’re already able to produce components of complicated machines, such as jet engines.
“This is the sort of technology that is going to be bringing manufacturing jobs back to this country,” Fleming said.
“We’re no longer going to be making decisions about where to find cheap labor … but (about) where can you find the people who know how to design and program these devices.”
He also said sensors are becoming tools available not just to engineers but to a large portion of the population, since smartphones have sensors in them that can perform a number of tasks.
For example, the accelerometer in some cell phones can be used in conjunction with the free application iShake to measure earthquakes.
“It is a more accurate seismometer than most universities’ geology departments because of the accelerometer,” Fleming said.
And electronic medical records are being brought up by both health professionals and politicians more and more.
Companies are working towards making medical records mobile — so people can take them wherever they go and they’re more easily transferred between physicians and hospitals.
“This is being built into some federal legislation for what physicians and hospitals are going to have to do to get Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement,” Fleming said.
Also, some universities now offer most — if not all — of their curriculum online and for free, leaving many wondering how financially feasible online education will be.
“I hope colleges are thinking about what this is going to do to their business model, because they can’t just count on kids showing up after their senior year of high school and spending four years on campus,” Fleming said.
“The disruption that we have to worry about is, is there a way to start paying for this?” he continued. “Otherwise a lot of colleges and universities, especially second-tier or third-tier, will just go away.”