The MIT Technology Review Digital Summit 2014

San Francisco hosted this year’s MIT Technology Review Digital Summit, a conference tasked with exploring the technologies of tomorrow and their impact on both business and society as a whole. Although the summit took only a day, there were countless changes that are bound to shake up the tech world, and that we think you should add to your radar.

Let’s start with news from Facebook: They are making their app easier to use for people in countries where the bandwidth cannot handle a lot of data, calling the effort a “data diet campaign.” The goal of the data diet is to bring internet access to everyone on the planet while also increasing Facebook memberships. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s passion project is going to be a long process, but hopefully impacted third-world countries will benefit from the resulting internet access. It’s always nice to see steps being made in the web accessibility struggle.

Another Summit headliner was Google’s automated cars: computer-controlled vehicles that will take care of driving for you! Though it may sound like a luxury, many conference-goers had lingering concerns about the levels of control the car would have—especially during trips with both manually-controlled and auto-controlled cars. It seems this exciting idea is a possibility, but still needs some refinement before it’s seriously pitched.

Google kept the “Wow!” coming, bringing developer Don Dodge to the stage to discuss their latest location software, which basically turns your phone into a tracking device. The positive image is of a tool that could guide firefighters out of a burning building. The negative image is…everything else. This tool clearly presents a huge security risk. Dodge said he imagines a world in which businesses benefit from the software, using it to find the ideal place for newest products after determining the roaming paths of customers. As interesting as this all sounds, consumers are understandably skeptical, and wary of how much information they want their devices shelling out.

In grander news, Microsoft is investing a huge amount of resources into a quantum computer development project. The greatest challenge they face now is finding the “quantum transistor”, as the traditional silicon transistor won’t support this new technology. Additionally, Microsoft is on a mission to elongate battery life from one day to one week. They want to change both the way mobile devices use available battery life, giving the devices two smaller, lithium-ion batteries to replace the current one-battery setup. Their prototypes have already improved battery life by 30%! It’s unclear when these new designs will actually hit the consumer market, but the possibilities for improvement in all areas (cars, wearable devices…) are enough to keep us excited.

Enough about machines—the last addition to the Summit will make your heart smile. The App Store is filled with millions of games and social media time-sinks, but a new generation of apps serves another purpose: medical and psychological development for children, such as one app suite that reads emotions to help kids with autism live more comfortably; it includes a matching game of facial expressions/emotions, a Snapchat-esque “selfie-reader” to read your emotions, and a musical app that creates songs based on things like smiles, frowns, or even eyebrow raises.

It’s truly incredible that all of these ideas came from just one day of innovators coming together. We can’t wait to see the tangible results of these developments, and until they come we will try to keep you updated on their progress. Stay tuned, world!