Since the end of the Second World War, many innovations and discoveries have been hyped – sometimes overhyped – as "the next big thing" that would revolutionize the way people lived, worked, traveled, etc. Television was envisioned as the way to spread education, culture and enlightenment throughout the world. The invention of the computer and the emergence of the internet were seen as changing forever the way businesses were supposed to be run, how commerce would be conducted, and how we would all communicate. The Segway was seen as an environmentally friendly way to deal with traffic, the cost of gas, etc.
Perhaps it’s inevitable that "the next big thing" eventually becomes simply another thing in our daily lives, a part of everyday life. According to a recent article in the Boston Globe by Robert Gavin, "What’s up with nanotech?", nanotechnology may be starting to achieve that same level of everydayness.
As Gavin notes in his article, nanotechnology has begun to fade from the public’s eye. Nanotech industries and businesses dealing with nanoparticles and nanotechnologies have become fairly well established. Nanoindustries are reaching a stage in the maturation process where their products have entered the commercial market and are now being incorporated into the products of other industries and businesses and helping to make the breakthroughs that will improve those products, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry. To paraphrase one advertising slogan from a few years ago, "Nanotech doesn’t make the products you use, it makes them better".
According to Gavin, "In many ways, a lack of sexiness has lowered nanotechnology’s profile." It’s achieving everydayness, reaching maturity at a greater speed than other innovative industries, such as information technologies did. As with those industries that came before it, nanotech will still be making advancements and new discoveries that will lead to improvements in existing products and services and the emergence of newer industries and the formation of new companies that will develop those discoveries and put them to use, creating new jobs for skilled employees, as well as sparking the growth of spin off businesses, much as the mass production of automobiles lead to the development of other businesses such as dealerships, repair shops, suppliers, etc.