IEEE : Into The Future

New Technology Connections: Future Directions

New Technology Connections is your resource to emerging technologies within the IEEE. The IEEE Future Directions team has identified the technologies on this page as primary focus areas and has established them as formal initiatives to engage IEEE and the general public. For each initiative, you will find a wealth of knowledge, resources, and opportunities to participate. Visit each featured portal for access to upcoming conferences, news articles, technical papers, related standards, professional organizations, and academic programs. To get involved in the initiatives and to stay informed, please join our free technical communities available on each of the portals below. To learn more, contact Future Directions.

New Initiatives

Get involved in the current Future Directions Initiatives:

IEEE Big Data Big Data – Big data is much more than just data bits and bytes on one side and processing on the other. IEEE, through its Cloud Computing Initiative and multiple societies, has already been taking the lead on the technical aspects of big data. To provide increased value, IEEE will provide a framework for collaboration throughout IEEE. IEEE has launched a new initiative focused on big data. Plans are under way to capture all the different perspectives via in-depth discussions, and to drive to a set of results that will define the scope and the direction for the initiative.
IEEE Brain Brain – This initiative is dedicated to advancing technologies that improve the understanding of brain function, revolutionizing current abilities to reverse engineer neural circuits in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, and developing new approaches to interface the brain with machines for augmenting human-machine interaction and mitigating effects of neurological disease and injury.


IEEE Cyber Security Cybersecurity Initiative – Through outreach projects, workshops, experiments, and challenge competitions, the IEEE Cybersecurity Initiative builds on IEEE’s long-standing and world-leading technical activities in cybersecurity and privacy to actively engage, inform, and support members, organizations, and communities involved in cybersecurity research, development, operations, policy, and education.


IEEE Digital Senses Digital Senses – IEEE Digital Senses Initiative is dedicated to advancing technologies that capture and reproduce, or synthesize the stimuli of various senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, etc.), combine the reproduced or synthesized stimuli with the naturally received stimuli in various ways, and help humans or enable machines to perceive, understand, and respond to the stimuli. Plans are under way to capture all the different perspectives via in-depth cross-disciplinary discussions, and to drive to a set of results that will facilitate disruptive innovations and foster cross-industry collaborations globally in three focus areas (virtual reality, augmented reality, and human augmentation) and many other relevant areas (wearables, consumer healthcare, smart robots, etc.).


IEEE Green Information and Communications Technology Green ICT – Green Information and Communications Technology is a key driver of sustainability when green metrics (energy consumption, atmospheric emissions, e-waste, life cycle management) are effectively coupled with its positive socio-economic impacts. IEEE is focused on achieving sustainability through greening ICT and promoting its awareness.


IEEE Rebooting Computing Rebooting Computing – IEEE seeks to rethink the computer, “from soup to nuts,” including all aspects from device to user interface. This group works from a holistic viewpoint, taking into account evolutionary and revolutionary approaches.


IEEE Smart Cities Smart Cities – IEEE experts will work with local government leaders and city planners around the world to explore the issues and address what’s needed to prepare for the ever-increasing urban population growth, including engaging and interacting with local inhabitants to increase awareness of their urban environment, leading to the formation of smart cities.


Logo coming soon Smart Materials – These are responsive to their environment (passive) and/or external stimuli (active) in such a way that they serve an enabling technological function. Examples include, but are of course not limited to: shape memory alloys, piezoelectrics, electro/photo/thermo-chromics, self-healing polymers, magnetics, re-configurable devices/components, and many others. There is an opportunity to collaboratively connect people across the current materials and/or application focus, to address common issues that may center around phenomenology, reliability, integration, adoption and standards, or any number of others.


IEEE Software Defined Networks Software Defined Networks (SDN) – SDN and NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) are creating the conditions to reinvent network architectures. This is happening first at the edge of the network where “intelligence” has already started migrating, and where innovation is more urgently needed to overcome the “ossification” by improving networks and services infrastructure flexibility.


IEEE 5G 5G – The IEEE 5G Initiative is dedicated to bringing together researchers, scientists, and engineers from industry, academia, and governments around the world to solve the challenges associated with the development and deployment of 5G. The IEEE 5G initiative will be a collaborative effort, bringing interdisciplinary exchange from a wide range of professional expertise and practical application knowledge.


IEEE Future Directions podcasts

IEEE Future Directions interviews some of the top subject-matter experts in the field through its Q&A podcast series.

IEEE Future Directions Resource Center

The IEEE Future Directions Resource Center offers a selection of products from Future Directions’ current initiatives for sale. It contains electronic newsletters, videos, webinars, and white papers. IEEE members and IEEE technical community subscribers receive discounts on all products. Through the resource center, you will get a glimpse into the various Future Directions initiatives and the wide range of offerings. Future Directions plans to feature new initiatives and their products in the resource center throughout the year.

New Technology Project Incubators – Proposals accepted until 13 May 2017

Have an idea? The IEEE Future Directions Committee is accepting proposals to explore new initiatives in emerging technologies. This is an open call to all IEEE Societies, Councils, graduated initiatives, and other OUs. Please see the form below for instructions.

Future Directions news

Read the latest issue of the IEEE Future Directions Newsletter:

Future Directions Articles:

  • Choices Regarding Designs Today will Impact Our Shared Future Tomorrow: Read the article (PDF, 279 KB)
  • Riding the Technology Time Machine: Read the article (PDF, 134 KB)
  • IEEE Launches 5G Initiative to Coalesce Global Industry, Policy Makers, and Academia in Neutral Forum to Move 5G Forward: Read the article
  • Understanding the Societal Impact of Autonomous Technologies: Read the article (PDF, 182 KB)
  • Q&A with Doug Zuckerman, General Chair of IEEE TTM 2016: Read the interview (PDF, 232 KB)
  • IEEE CLOUDSCAPE Newsletter on IEEE and Big Data – May 2016 issue (PDF, 121 KB)

Future Directions events

Join Future Directions at the following events.

Graduated initiatives

These initiatives have reached maturity after following through a full life cycle within Future Directions. Visit their web portals to continue to participate and learn about new volunteer opportunities.

 IEEE Cloud Computing Cloud Computing: This has become a scalable service consumption and delivery platform in the modern IT infrastructure. IEEE is advancing the understanding and use of the cloud computing paradigm, which currently has a significant impact on the entire information and communications ecosystem.
IEEE Internet of Things Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT is a self-configuring and adaptive system consisting of networks of sensors and smart objects whose purpose is to interconnect “all” things, including everyday and industrial objects, in such a way as to make them intelligent, programmable, and more capable of interacting with humans.
 IEEE Life Sciences Life Sciences: The overall objective is to make IEEE a major and recognized player in the life sciences, in particular in the disciplines that are at the intersection between the organization’s traditional fields—electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science—and the life sciences.
 IEEE Smart Grid Smart Grid: The “smart grid” has come to describe a next-generation electrical power system that is typified by the increased use of communications and information technology in the generation, delivery, and consumption of electrical energy.
 IEEE Transportation Electrification Community Transportation Electrification: IEEE seeks to accelerate the development and implementation of new technologies for the electrification of transportation which is manifested in the electric vehicles (EV) of today and the future.

IEEE Future Directions Committee

The IEEE Future Directions Committee (FDC), in association with Societies, Councils, and OUs, anticipates and determines the direction of existing, new, and emerging technologies and related issues, and spearheads their investigation and development by IEEE. Taking a holistic view, the FDC emphasizes new, emerging technical areas and drives them to maturity within the IEEE infrastructure. Additionally, the FDC serves as a liaison to and fosters cooperative efforts among Societies, Councils, and industry to develop new products and services in emerging topics.
The primary working objective of the IEEE Future Directions Committee:
  • Incubates emerging technologies and new applications of current technologies
  • Identifies opportunities to engage the engineering community and the general public
  • Works with IEEE members and staff to focus on emerging technologies through technical, professional, and educational activities
  • Serves as a catalyst for new conferences, publications, standards, educational products, forums, white papers, grants, and projects to support new technologies
FDC members, please access committee meeting schedule and documents on the IEEE roster. Presentations made during previous Future Directions Committee (FDC) workshops held at IEEE Meeting Series are available. You will find updates to all the current initiatives, latest report from Roberto Saracco to the TAB, and other interesting presentations.

New Technology Proposal List

  • 3D Imaging and Multi-Media
  • In Memory Computing
  • 3-D Printing
  • Internet of Space
  • Autonomous Systems and their Societal Impact
  • Micro Fluidics
  • Bio Fuel
  • NanoPore DNA Sequencing
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • NewOS: RebootlessOS
  • Clean Water
  • Power in Mobile Systems
  • Cognitive Radio
  • Reliability
  • Digital Cultural Heritage and Smart Environments
  • Robotics Also Swarms
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Safety Critical Systems, Next Gen
  • Fog Computing and Networking
  • Symbiotic Machines