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2015 was a big year for tech. We made a lot of discoveries and reached a lot of major milestones — but 2016 is poised to be even crazier. In a lot of ways, 2015 laid the groundwork for much bigger things, so instead of looking back and recapping humanity’s technological achievements, lets take a look forward and examine the technologies that will have the biggest impact on 2016.
Pretty soon, the world is going to reach a tipping point. We’ll have too many people living on the planet, and not enough arable land to raise crops to feed all the hungry mouths. Agriculture will need to adapt in order to keep pace, and one of the most promising ways it’s doing that is by moving indoors. Indoor farms carry a number of big advantages. They don’t require the use of herbicides or pesticides; they can be built in urban areas to eliminate shipping costs; and they can even grow plants faster and more efficiently than traditional farms. In 2015, for example, Philips built an experimental indoor farm in the Netherlands that employs a connected, customizable LED system to provide specialized lighting sequences that target each plant’s ideal growth requirements — thus boosting yields and slashing grow times. There’s actually a factory in Japan that uses a similar method to produce lettuce — and the facility can pump out over 30,000 heads per day, every single day of the year.
Perhaps the most important part is that we’ve already worked out all the kinks in the process. Unlike some of the other proposed solutions to the future of food (lab-grown meat, genetically modified crops, or even automated farming via drones), indoor farms don’t require a lot more research and development before they can come to fruition. We can start building them now.