Forrester Research predicts that by 2022, more than 66 million households in the US – about 50% of all homes – will have a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home.1 Our TVs are only going to get smarter, too; through integration with smart speakers, consumers will have complete hands-free control, navigating their televisions simply by speaking.
But consumer technology, such as home automation and personal electronics, isn’t the only big player in the tech industry. 2018 will bring new advances, applications and discoveries, so let’s review some of 2017’s most trending technologies and how they will evolve in the year ahead.
1. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to expand its capabilities and many uses in 2018. In fact, 75% of software development teams will likely include AI functionality in one or more applications or services by year’s end.2 As we grow more accustomed to speaking to and being answered by smart devices in our homes, it won’t take much of a leap to imagine the use of additional robotics in our daily lives. The consumer electronics startup Mayfield Robotics is one company that’s already shipped their first functional home robot, Kuri, to doorsteps across the US in December. Those who preordered the robot can take advantage of its ability to recognize people and room layouts, take photographs and record videos, retrieve information and more.
2. Virtual Reality
Many consumers have enjoyed the novelty experience of virtual reality (VR) technology in the form of somewhat limited smart phone and gaming applications, but VR technology is not something to be overlooked. While VR has practical uses, such as helping to train police forces and retail workers alike, its use is still limited to expensive devices, costly custom programs and awkward headsets. However, 2018 might bring with it a fresh take on virtual reality technology, introducing more universally appealing content and a wider range of everyday applications.
3. Wireless Technology
The FCC has approved radio frequency transmitter technology from two companies – Energous and Powercast – to allow for wireless power, or power-over-distance charging. This technology can recharge devices of all kinds, including smart phones, tablets, wearables, cameras, remote controls, toys and more, untethering users from the traditional charging cord. In 2018, several manufacturers will be offering what’s called the Always Connected PC (AC-PC) – laptops with cellular connectivity and batteries that can deliver up to 20 hours of power before requiring external power or charging. Stay tuned for big advances like these in wireless technology.
4. Blockchain Technology
With blockchain technology no longer a confusing new addition to the technology world, 2018 will see the start of industries other than banking embrace the technology to better their internal systems and relationships with their customers. The smart, distributed ledger technology can bring transparency, efficiency and enhanced security to companies in industries like healthcare, supply chain management, insurance and even entertainment and thus greatly benefit the people they serve. Research and analytical services company Juniper Research found in a recent survey that 57% of large corporations are deploying or considering deploying blockchain solutions.3
5. Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is disruptive and should be something all businesses keep in mind as they adopt new technologies and discover efficiencies throughout their underlying processes. Those who don’t go digital will fall behind their competitors. In the year ahead, more businesses will integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) into their operations by migrating data and software to the cloud and exploring real-time analytics that can continually aid business efficiency, growth and innovation.
Business leaders who want to safeguard their data, systems and daily operations will need to begin taking cybersecurity much more seriously in 2018, as cybersecurity threats are on the rise and more companies take their operations online. Companies will invest more in acquiring cybersecurity talent or partnering with businesses that can provide managed services. They’ll also need to employ a cybersecurity-first mindset in which issues are addressed throughout software development projects – not just dealt with as an afterthought prior to application launch.
What technologies are you keeping an eye on in 2018? Staying up-to-date on how these six technologies are quickly evolving will ensure you remain ahead of the game in knowing where to invest and how to use tech to better your business.
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1. Forrester Data: Smart Home Devices Forecast, 2017 To 2022 (US), Forrester
2. Top 5 Software Development Trends That will Take Over 2018, Helios Solutions
3. Juniper Research: Blockchain Enterprise Survey August 2017, Juniper Research