Fast Company's Next Big Things In Tech 2022
Originally published in Fast Company 11-17-22
Next Big Things In Tech 2022
From AR-assisted surgery to smart soybean plants to fairer algorithms, these breakthroughs are shaping the future of multiple industries, in ways that will benefit us all.
It would be nearly impossible these days to find a sector in the economy that isn’t reinventing itself. As technology evolves at an ever-accelerating clip, companies big and small are turning to pioneering approaches in areas such as generative AI, Web3, and automation to create smarter, better, and (increasingly) more sustainable products and services. Yet, even in the crowded world of innovation, a number of brands stand out.
A panel of 22 Fast Company editors and writers selected this year’s 120 Next Big Things in Tech winners and honorable mentions. Including both corporate giants and under-the-radar startups, they span 21 categories, such as Energy and Sustainability, Security and Privacy, Social Good, and Transportation. Even those that are still making their way to the market have already shown tangible signs of success along the way. Ultimately, though, we were looking for efforts with the potential to grow even more significant over the next few years.
Whether it’s a new process for reducing food waste or a platform that automatically dubs movies in additional languages, each honoree reflects fresh thinking and cutting-edge technology in ways that impressed us. This might be the first time you’ve heard of many of them—but we’re betting it won’t be the last.
Small and mighty companies: The 5 next big things, from smart roads to better plastic recycling
Some of the most significant innovations come from small organizations focused on solving a big, persistent problems. These companies have fewer than 50 employees, but are taking on challenges, such as making AI more fair and transparent and creating a fast, reusable COVID-19 test.
The companies behind these technologies are among the honorees in Fast Company’s Next Big Things in Tech awards for 2022. See a full list of all the winners across all categories here.
WINNERS: SMALL AND MIGHTY
Credo AI For creating a platform that enables organizations to deliver trustworthy AI at scale
AI is arguably the biggest game-changing technology to come along in decades, but it’s still risky business operating without much regulation. Credo AI’s platform—launched at the start of the pandemic—is already working with such large enterprises as Mastercard to establish fair, transparent, compliant, and auditable AI systems.
Integrated Roadways For building technological progress right into pavement
With Integrated Roadways’ modular slabs of pavement, the sensors and other tech needed for real-time traffic data—5G wireless, EV charging, autonomous vehicle navigation—and other services are embedded in roads. The modules also promise to help municipalities pay for road upgrades by monetizing all those useful capabilities. The city of Lenexa, Kansas, is an early adopter, putting smart roads at the center of a $250 million 10-year infrastructure plan.
Oma Fertility For using AI to increase the success rate of IVF
As fertility rates continue to slide, estimates suggest that 20% of people will rely on IVF to start families over the next two decades. But even that technology only has a per-cycle success rate of about 30%, due in part to embryologists hand-picking sperm cells. Thanks to new AI, Oma Sperm InSight yields a significantly higher number of healthy embryos in early clinical trials.
Samsara Eco For solving the plastic crisis with infinite recycling
This Australian startup is cracking the code to combat a big contributor to the climate crisis. The tech breaks down plastics—even the peskier colored and multilayered kind—into their components, which can be reused or upcycled. Samsara Eco’s key competitive edge is the use of enzymes as opposed to milling or heat-extrusion so it costs less and has a lower-carbon footprint. The company hopes that if this scales globally, it can end both plastic waste and the production of new plastics using fossil fuels.
HONORABLE MENTION: SMALL AND MIGHTY
For creating a faster, more efficient COVID-19 PCR test that can be reused thousands of times