Technology has a way of shifting and progressing in major leaps and bounds in a relatively short time. In fact, in many ways technology is an evolutionary “being,” similar to us. It also has a way of compounding exponentially. For example, 10 years ago smartphones (the type we’re used to now) didn’t exist, and 40 years ago no one even owned a personal computer. Compare this with modern times, 77 percent of the U.S. adult population have smartphones and 88 percent are on the Internet.
With the rapid pace at which technology is expanding and progressing, there are constantly new trends to watch for. Plus, each year brings many new devices and overall technology trends. With 2017 came numerous new health/fitness apps, home- and health-improvement accessories, and of course, the Apple Watch 3.
It is a tradition now that at the end of the year various publications call on experts to predict the hottest new technology for the coming year, and this year is no exception. Only, the attention to technology today centers almost entirely on information technology, so it dominates the forecasts. And, many mention the same trend. Only a couple of sources dared to step outside that boundary, so we will lead with them.
Compiled below are the top 10 technology trends for 2018:
From bricklayers to lawyers, according to one prediction, automation is going to have a huge impact over the long run. For 2018, most can expect to be safe except for what are described as the “dull, dirty and dangerous” jobs. Machines already are able to do most of those jobs “faster, safety, cheaper and more accurately.” One estimate says 47 percent of jobs face automation.
2. 3D Printing
The technology of 3D printing, from orthodontics and prosthetics to machine parts, already is available. One expert notes that the types of materials that can be created by systematically adding layers of material seem virtually limitless, including “plastic, metal, concrete, liquid, power, even chocolate or human tissue!” Watch for a greater number of customized products in 2018, he says.
3. AI Applications
Artificial intelligence is on the rise, and likely will be a major trendsetter of 2018. It’s predicted that in just a few short years, every app and service on the market will incorporate AI in some way. Apps that already have AI elements in their software provide users with enhanced experiences, advanced analytics and a more “intelligent” way of running.
4. Self-Operating Gadgets
Along with AI in apps, it’s likely that all devices will soon incorporate AI into their design. We already have “smart” phones and “smart” TVs, who knows what will be next! Many people seem to think that household devices and gadgets will be the next major shift into the realm of AI. Think self-operating vacuum or hospital equipment able to perform surgeries on its own, with greater precision than the human hand. The possibilities are virtually (get it?) endless.
5. Conversational Platforms
While conversational platforms are relatively common in today’s technology-centric society, they are often inefficient and frustrating to use. Whether it’s a chatty voice in your car or a disembodied Echo by your easy chair, in 2018, these platforms will likely make a major shift into more streamlined, easy-to-use and intelligent platforms.
6. “Reality” Technology
There are already many cases of immersive or “reality” technology in today’s market, though 2018 will likely bring a new wave of this incredible field. We have many cases where virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) come into play, but immersive technologies will have the ability to alter the way we interact and perceive the “reality” around us.
Virtual reality is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. While there are a few examples of VR devices and consoles available, 2018 supposedly will be the year the technology goes mainstream.
Unlike VR, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information. Perhaps the best example of this technology becoming more common is the globally popular Pokemon Go app released earlier this year. It allows users to interact in reality, plus it adds an additional “reality” on top.
The line between augmented and mixed reality is a fine one. However, there are a few key differences. The biggest is that MR is a combination of real and synthetic information overlaid onto one another and able to react to each other in real time. For example, take a surgeon who uses virtual ultrasound images to perform a more precise and efficient operation.
→ To read more on how technological trends will shape the future of healthcare, click here.
Similar in concept to popular cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, blockchain startups aim to find specific and intelligent ways to optimize the way many industries work. They do this by replacing intermediary parties such as brokers and agents. “Smart” contracts are created that automatically verify actions from both parties, all without compromising data security. This has already allowed various blockchain startups such as Gameflip and Filecoin to solve many crucial marketplace obstacles, worth millions and billions of dollars.
Along with AI-centric technology comes the concept of the “Internet of things.” For example, many people use their smartphones to control a variety of devices in their homes. They control their fitness/health trackers, alarm clocks, stereos and even potentially their refrigerators, microwaves and more. Without a doubt, 2018 is the year when this once science fiction-sounding concept will become a reality, eventually leading to just about everything connected to the web in one way or another.
9. Subscriptions Instead of Pay-As-You-Go
In previous cases, technology was geared toward a more pay-per-use model. But, businesses and companies have begun to realize that recurring revenue is much more beneficial and lucrative than single-use. Take Amazon for example; it already offers home-delivery services for groceries and household items. It’s highly likely you already use other subscription-based services such as Netflix or Hulu. Soon, nearly all services likely will be subscription-based, allowing consumers the ability to have more freedom and think less about everyday tasks.
The days of brick-and-mortar retail are slowly coming to a close. Nowadays, most consumers prefer to do as much shopping online as possible. Therefore, e-commerce stores are likely to be the next big thing. Digital storefronts have proved time and again to be a more efficient, accessible and convenient option for many consumers.
As you can see, 2018 will likely bring a whirlwind of new technology trends. From new “realities” to the shift to online-everything, next year will be a big one in terms of technology. However, don’t forget to unplug every once in awhile to connect with yourself and those around you.