Technologies Like 3-D Printing, Live Stream and Virtual Reality Have Facilitated Fantastic New Business Opportunities
New technologies are rocking the business world, and the possibilities are endless. As soon as new technologies hit the market, businesses spring up around them, and new opportunities are born. Let's take a look at some of the coolest new stuff in the world -- and how ambitious entrepreneurs are putting new technology to work.
1. 3-D printing
It seems like the uber coolness of 3-D printing will never fade, and new uses for the technology spring up every day. From chocolate to prosthetics, 3D printing seems like the answer to everything. Is anyone else reminded of Star Trek's replicator?
The price for a 3-D printer has already dropped into an affordable range, and new opportunities are abound in every field. You can already buy customized printed chocolates for any occasion. What a fabulous idea!
2. Virtual reality
On track to become the next big thing, virtual reality is in huge demand -- and that means opportunity for storytellers, programmers and artists. Enterprising designers are already selling components to populate game environment and characters. Game developers can search the 3-D models marketplace to find low-poly bits and pieces ranging from eyeballs to aircraft.
3. Weed tech
The legalization of marijuana has spurred plenty of high-tech growing methods, and in turn, new industry businesses have sprung up like, well, weeds. Last year, Tech Crunch documented no less than eight on-demand weed delivery apps. In San Francisco, you can even get a doctor on demand to come to your house and write you a prescription. How's that for innovative service? Find a need and fill it. It's the soul of business.
4. Live stream
Hulu and Netflix shook up the traditional broadcast TV delivery model, leading pay TV services and movie channels to catch up or join the revolution. Today, you can watch ESPN on your phone or subscribe to Showtime via Hulu, and related technologies like Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick push shows to your big screen.
The technology has also offered up other opportunities for people clever enough to grab a piece of the pie. Independent websites offering live stream TV services have sprung up on the web, some of them offered for free and supported by advertising.
We're all a little drone-happy these days. It didn't take long for drones to go from brand-spankin'-new to everybody-got-one. Drones have become so common that legislation is being discussed in several countries to keep hobbyists from endangering planes and firefighters.
Now that we have drones, lots of people are starting new businesses. Videographers are covering everything from sporting events to weddings, and (bet you didn't see this coming) several drone-on-demand services have sprung up. Yes. You can order a drone with your phone.
6. Toys for future coders
The crop of new toys designed to give kids a foundation in coding is such an exciting development. The possibilities are literally endless and letting kids discover the wonders of programming before they can walk can impact their lives and future earning power in incalculable ways. Is there anything more satisfying than firing a child's imagination? Entrepreneurs who can find a way to translate the interests of children into useful and scalable educational toys have a great chance of success.
Programmable fashion is another avenue to explore. What 13-year-old diva wouldn't want a prom dress she can program with lights to steal the show? With big-name designers already showing high-tech fashion on the runway, it's only a matter of time before a savvy entrepreneur makes affordable retail designs available.
7. Social-media networking
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube -- the list of social-media sites is endless, and new businesses spring up every day. A lot of them fail outright or rise and fall quickly, but once in a while, a creative endeavor becomes a unicorn by finding a specialized niche and speaking to people who need a voice.
Paralign is just such a site. It's for users to find like-minded people and talk about what's most important to them without exposing their identities -- a completely anonymous platform to make friends and voice opinions without risk.
8. The business of business
Naturally, all the new businesses spawned a need for a new way to do business. In an on-demand world, we want on-demand business -- fast, easy and cheap. You've been able to do all kinds of legal stuff online for a while, like make a will or file for divorce, and now you can form a company without leaving home. Everything you need to register a company in just a couple of hours. Amazing. Just like that, you're in business.
9. Cutting-edge display rental
This might be the coolest display rental ever. Meeting Tomorrow will link any number of iPads to make a video wall display that can be programmed using a proprietary app to show a single image across all screens or individual images. They also rent all kinds of technology you might need at an event, from giant curved screens to basic office equipment.
10. Digital signage
First there were digital billboards, then expensive systems you had to install, and now there's a nifty little software on a flash drive with a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to set up and run a custom signage display on any HDMI-ready TV. Great for businesses, schools, medical offices and anywhere else you might have a captive audience to entertain, inform and upsell.
Maybe you can't develop a disruptive new technological breakthrough. But you can figure out how to use a new technology to start your own business. All it takes to get started is a great idea.
Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, Fla., currently suffering the suburbs of Orlando. She's a science geek, a social media junkie and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon.