As technology evolves, we have seen a shift of focus from flashy new gadgets to the underlying technology that makes these gadgets work. In recent years, this has largely been driven by artificial intelligence, which is increasingly permeating a wider range of our lives. Because of artificial intelligence, we will see everything continue to get "smarter", more connected and more efficient. So, without further adieu, here are five trends in technology that you should look out for in 2018.
1. Smarter Homes
In the past couple of years, Amazon's Alexa has seduced the world with the ease and convenience she brings to our lives. From playing music, to ordering pizza, making calls or telling you the news, she has without a doubt changed many people's daily lives. In 2018, we can expect to see home devices become even more connected. Many smaller tech companies are teaming up with Amazon to "smartify" their products by adding voice control abilities to further connect people's homes. From light bulbs, to vacuums, car stereo accessories, home security systems and even coffee makers, nearly every aspect of your home will soon be connected and working to simplify your life. With rivals to Amazon's Echo such as Google's Home, and Apple's HomePod which is to be released this year, it's apparent that this trend isn't going anywhere.
Remember in Beauty and the Beast, how all of the home products were alive and could carry out tasks on their own? I like to think that's where we're headed, just with less singing and dancing. Soon, your entire home may be able to sense and recognize your needs. The AC and lights could automatically turn off when you leave, and you may never again need to worry if you left the oven on or forgot to lock the back door, because sensors could recognize when you leave and take care of these things. While we will probably not see this level of advancements hit the mainstream for several years, and your dishes may never be able to prepare a full meal for you, thanks to A.I.the trend is in full motion.
2. Smarter Cars
Let's face it, we are still a ways away from fully self-driving cars. The technology is there, but it still needs some refining before they can hit the market. But that doesn't mean cars aren't still getting smarter. In 2018, we can expect to see baby steps toward fully autonomous cars, such as smarter parking assistance and less error-prone collision avoidance.
Another thing to look out for is the "connected car" which could display features such as the ability to pay for parking and gas through a dashboard, cameras that further enhance a drivers surrounding view of the car, and even in-vehicle biometrics that scan a driver’s iris to verify his or her identity before turning on the car.
So we've talked about advancements in smart home devices, and smarter cars, but the technology isn't stopping there. Tech companies are now looking to expand the smart home, to the smart city. Imagine if everything had a mind of it's own...street lights could turn on and off when the sun rises and sets, trash cans can alert a waste collection facility when the container is full, parking spots can notify people when they are vacant, and the list goes on.
Deloitte, the consulting firm, has been making a big push for smart cities. Their whole idea is to use technology and data to solve many of the challenges facing large metropolitan areas. Sensors could detect and monitor air and water pollution or hear gunshots and alert the police, for example. Ultimately, all these sensors could work together to create a healthier, safer and more energy efficient city.
4. Augmented Reality
Since the Pokémon Go craze of 2016, augmented reality has really taken off with no sign of slowing down. From how you shop, to how you view sports, travel and navigate, AR is shaping the future. AR has the power to transform your shopping experience by customizing mannequins to match your body type and style and displaying virtual, personalized inventory. Not only will AR transform you in-store experience, but it has the power to bring products to you anywhere. Devices can superimpose 3D objects in various spaces, giving customers a chance to interact with digital renderings from the comfort of their own homes. This allows people to virtually "try on" clothes, makeup and accessories, or see if a new home product will look good in their house before actually purchasing it.
AR can be expanded to many different areas of our lives. Imagine watching a live football game in the stadium and seeing personalized stats floating above the fantasy sports players you follow. Or viewing a game from home where the players appear to be right there in your living room. AR can also assist travelers by translating signs to any language, and displaying directions and landmarks as you are viewing a new city. While many of these advancements are already fully underway, we can expect to see this become more mainstream in 2018.
5. 5G preparation
As we've seen in all the above trends for 2018, a growing number of devices rely on artificial intelligence. This means that they will require faster bandwidth speeds. Wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon are working on 5G, which has the potential to be almost 10 times faster than 4G. Not to mention 5G is expected to greatly reduce latency to let devices communicate with each other with extremely fast response times, which is vital to all the smart products discussed above. 5G is incredibly important because it is the foundation that will allow all of the other advancements to take place.