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Evaluating new and emerging technology


1 Critical evaluation

  • Before making a product when need to critically evaluate a number of fields.
  • Critical evaluation is a process of trying to find both positive and negatives from a range of areas to assess the suitability of concepts such as a design, process or material.
  • Basically it is asking lots and lots of questions!
  • Some of the areas to be looked at are:

Manufacturing capabilities

  • Will the new technology influence the way products are made? 3D printers that can make other 3D printers?
  • Will automated assembly lines produce high quality customised products?
  • Will new technologies enable a flexible reaction to demand?

Budget constraints

  • How much are customers willing to pay? Is a £1000 mobile phone viable? Ask Apple!
  • Will cost affect material selection, production methods and cost of labour?
  • Will the new technologies improve value and maximise profit?
  • Can cost savings be made by speed of manufacture, reduction in materials, reduction in size or process redesign?

Materials being used

  • Have the materials been tested for the required use?
  • Will improvements outweigh any increased costs?
  • Are the materials sustainable?


  • Will production times be cut?
  • Is a time investment in staff training needed?
  • What lead times do customers expect?

Who is the product for?

  • How can the technologies help the product fulfil the customer needs?
  • Has the target market been researched?

2 Consideration of contemporary and potential future scenarios

  • When making design decisions we must examine possible outcomes. These could be positive, negative or even both!

Natural disasters

  • Disasters such as hurricanes and floods appear to be happening more and more.
  • Can developments in technology help us to prevent, prepare and cope with these situation i.e. earthquake-proof buildings?

Medical advances

  • Examples maybe future ideas such as Artifical organs or more current thinking such as prosthetic limbs.
  • Better technology to scan and detect problems such as MRI scanners.
  • Also if people are living longer can technology help in a society that is ageing.
  • This article has 17 advances just in 2017!


  • Despite technological advances in transport no real big changes have happened in 50 years. Commerical airlines are actually flying slower than they did 30 years ago!
  • Most forms of travel are safe, comfortable and efficient.
  • Could a this be the next big leap?

Global warming

  • Could low-carbon and zero carbon technology help lower the emissions of greenhouse gases which are probably causing global warming?
  • In the building industry this may include:
  • biomass technology
  • CHP (Micro CHP)
  • ground source heat pumps
  • photovoltaics
  • solar hot water
  • wind energy technology.


  • Revolutionised by the internet, communication is now cheap, easy and reliable. But designers have to be aware that their target audience may not have access to hardward, software and power sources.

3 Ethical perspectives

  • Here is an example of company acting in an ethical manner.

  • These companies act not purely for profit and are thinking of the wider consequences of their business.
  • This might be to act fairly in terms of their workers or supplier or damage to the environment from their trade.

Here are some ethical considerations of new and emerging technologies:

  • Organisations producing Fairtrade products should:
    • Use raw materials from sustainably managed sources.
    • Try buy materials locally.
    • Seek to reduce energy consumption
    • Minimise the impact of their waste stream to the environment.
  • Where id it made?:
    • Cheap labour in other countries may save costs, but exploit workers.
    • New technologies may produce less pollution and waste.
  • Who will it benefit?
    • New technologies can create cheaper, widely available, higher quality products for all.
    • Using new technologies could benefit the consumer, by making their lives easier, for example.
    • Manufacturing new products can create jobs.
  • Who was it made by?
    • Hiring low-paid workers in developing countries has led to exploitation, such as child labour.
    • The rights of workers should be high priority.
    • Check health and safety rules and building regulations in factory locations.

4 Environmental perspectives


Use of materials

  • Designer should be choosing materials that are: recyclable, lighter and less toxic.
  • Metals involving mining
  • Oil is a finite resource and cause pollution at all stages including not decomposing when finished it.
  • Read this article about the most green materials currently available.

Carbon footprint

  • Companies should always be looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. They could:
    • Maximise energy efficiency
    • Analyse their supply chian
    • Recycle
    • Use renewable energy
    • Identify carbon offsetting methods.
  • Carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 emissions that can be directly or indirectly caused by an individual or company's activities.
  • The smaller the footprint, the least damage is done to the environment.
  • Work out your carbon footprint here

Manufacture and tranportation: energy usage and consumption

  • costs from manufacture maybe noise and visual pollution.
  • costs from transport maybe the burning of petroleum which harms the environment.

Life analysis

  • A life cycle analysis(LCA) is a systematic inventory of environment impacts at every stage of a product's life.
  • Governments are trying to get all businesses to carry out LCAs so improvements to the environmental impact at each stage can be found.
  • Watch this video on the life cycle of a plastic bottle:


Exam style questions

1. Explain 2 methods that a company could use to relocate its manufacturing operation to a developing country (6 marks)

2. Explain the steps involved in carrying out and LCA. (4 marks)

3. Evaluate the considerations for using new and emerging technologies in the development of a new bicycle for competitive cyclists. (9 marks)