Jan 07, 2019 By Team YoungWonks *
The world of technology is ever-evolving and even as technologies continue to battle each other for supremacy, several have already established their disruptive potential. These are the technologies that promise high impact on today’s environment and thus already have or are likely to have a wide user base in the coming months. Keeping this in mind, here are the top 10 technology trends for 2019 in no particular order:
1. AI-driven Technology
With the increasing availability of predefined models that a professional developer can use alone, the landscape of AI is fast changing and in a fashion that is being hailed as positive. Today we are looking at realising scenarios where highly advanced AI-powered development environments will have automated functional and nonfunctional aspects of applications. This, in turn, will lead to the era of the ‘citizen application developer’ where dependence on professionals will decrease as non-professionals too will be able to use AI-driven tools to automatically generate solutions. With easy-to-use tools enabling non-professionals to generate applications without coding, AI-powered systems will indeed offer a higher degree of flexibility. (You can read our blog introducing the concepts of AI and Machine Learning here: https://www.youngwonks.com/blog/Machine-Learning-and-Artificial-Intelligence---An-Introduction-For-Absolute-Beginners)
2. Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology, as discussed in detail in one of our previous blogs (https://www.youngwonks.com/blog/What-is-Blockchain-Technology%3F), is a type of distributed ledger that offers greater transparency and lower friction across business ecosystems thus lowering costs and transaction time and improving the cash flow. It is being hailed as the antidote to central authority-driven institutions such as banks, clearinghouses, governments and many other institutions. From important legal documents such as passports and birth, death and marriage certificates to medical records, elections and smart contracts, the possibilities with blockchain seem limitless. And while the blockchain technology being used by many companies is said to be still immature, the coming months hold the promise of a refined version being used, one where complete blockchain solutions will be resorted to.
3. Smart Spaces
What is a smart space? A smart space is a physical or digital environment that is driven by smart devices. This basically refers to settings where humans interact with technology-enabled systems in an open, well coordinated and intelligent ecosystem. There are several elements — people, processes, services and things — at play in such a smart space to create an immersive, interactive and automated experience. The increasing use of automation (think Amazon Echo, Google Home devices) in our immediate surroundings (be it home, office or even the car) bears testimony to this.
4. Quantum Computing
What is Quantum Computing? Essentially, it is a type of nonclassical computing that dwells on the quantum state of subatomic particles (electrons and ions) that represent information as elements known as quantum bits (qubits). Given that quantum computers boast exponential scalability and parallel execution, they are ideal for dealing with problems that are too complex for traditional algorithms. Organizations spanning industries such as automotive, financial, insurance, pharmaceuticals, military and research can benefit greatly from advancements in the field of quantum computing. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, QC can be used to model molecular interactions at atomic levels to drastically reduce the time needed for new cancer-treating drugs to hit the market. Another use could be where QC would speed up and enhance the accuracy of several new pharmaceutical methodologies.
5. Digital Ethics and Privacy
Digital ethics is the field of study that focuses on the way technology is shaping up and how it will influence our political, social, and moral existence. In the Internet age, it is no wonder that digital ethics and privacy have come to assume importance. If anything, this is a field that is gaining traction even as individuals, organizations and governments battle virtual safety problems. A lot of personal information is available online today and maintaining its privacy is serious business. Organizations are now realizing how imperative it is to proactively address these concerns.
6. Augmented Analytics
Augmented analytics deals with a particular area of augmented intelligence that uses machine learning (ML) and natural language so as to change the way analytical content / data (especially the insight-led kind) is developed, consumed and shared. Thus it is already on its way to becoming an asset in the fields of data management, modern analytics and data science platforms in general. It is also being said that going forward, automated insights generated with the help of augmented analytics will be factored in for day-to-day decision-making across companies and not just limited to data sciences. This is in turn might do away with the need for professional data scientists in many situations in the future.
7. Autonomous Things
Companies such as Tesla are already showing us what autonomous things can do and the limitless potential is only going to be explored further this year. From autonomous vehicles to robots and drones, advanced AI is ushering in a year that will see some more hitherto human-performed functions get automated, even as we speak. What’s more, this automation is slated to go beyond the automation offered so far by rigid programing models, paving the way for an AI that will interact more naturally with its surroundings and with people.
8. Digital Twins
A digital twin refers to the digital replica of any real-world entity, i.e. any physical asset or system. So it could also digitally represent a process, place, person or device. How do they do this? The answer is: simulation.
A digital twin typically runs on software that relies on AI, ML and software analytics with spatial network graphs and helps create living digital simulation models that revise just as their physical counterparts change. Needless to say, they are in great demand in various sectors including the health, manufacturing and automotive industries, mainly for optimizing the operation and maintenance of physical assets, systems and manufacturing processes. According to the global research firm Gartner, there will be more than 20 billion connected sensors and endpoints and digital twins will exist for potentially billions of things by the year 2020. Like most things, digital twins are slated to start simply at first, followed by evolution over time, which in turn will enhance their ability to collect and visualize the relevant data, apply the right analytics and rules, and thus work efficiently towards achieving business goals.
9. Immersive Technology
The world of immersive experience covers Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). VR is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment (that can be similar to the real one or fantastical) and mainly including auditory and visual feedback. Meanwhile, AR is a kind of VR in that it is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information. MR, on the other hand, is a hybrid reality of sorts, as it merges real and virtual worlds to produce new environments where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. All of these realities / simulations are being made possible by immersive technology that is highly useful in industries such as art, entertainment, video games and interactive storytelling, military training, education and even medicine (for example, distracting patients with VR). With this immersive technology becoming more mainstream in 2019, it is more likely to penetrate many other industries such as immersive marketing and advertising.
10. IoT Devices and Edge Computing
The Internet of things (IoT) is the network that allows devices, vehicles, and home appliances (containing electronics and software items) to connect, interact and exchange data. In other words, IoT involves extending Internet connectivity beyond standard devices such as desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets, to any kind of everyday object. Embedded with technology, these devices can communicate and interact over the Internet, in addition to being remotely monitored and controlled. IoT devices are a part of the larger concept of home automation, which can include lighting, heating and air conditioning, media and security systems; popular examples include Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod.
So where does edge computing fit in? For starters, it refers to computation mostly or completely done on distributed device nodes (i.e. smart devices or edge devices as they are known) as opposed to taking place in a centralized cloud environment. This kind of computation tries to keep information traffic and processing local, with the aim being to reduce traffic and latency.
The new year will see the world of IoT grow and with it, the scope for edge computing too shall expand. Specialized AI chips boasting greater processing power, storage and other advanced capabilities, will be added to a wider array of edge devices, making edge computing a field to watch out for.
Another technology gaining traction is that of satellite broadband. While the Internet today mainly works through fibre optic cable connections, it is increasingly being said that such a network won’t have the kind of reach - especially in rural areas - that a satellite broadband connection can achieve. Aerospace company SpaceX, for example, has already launched satellites as part of its high-speed internet project Starlink. Essentially, a satellite constellation development project, it aims to develop a low-cost, low orbit high-performance satellite network to execute a new space-based Internet communication system.
*Contributors: Written by Vidya Prabhu; Image by: Leonel Cruz