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New Technology trends emerging in 2018

October 31, 2018


Following last week’s post which updated the trends discussed in our blog at the beginning of 2018, here are another five trends that have emerged during the year and are showing immense growth in potential.

New entries

  1. 3D variety

3D printing has been around for decades, albeit mostly on the manufacturing fringes and for prototypes. In the last decade, it has assumed prominence but remained generally confined to plastics. Material options are widening however, as cost and time are mutually reduced. Such developments could optimize traditional material properties. With it, our very ways of mass-producing products could be about to change profoundly. For example, researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a 3D printing method for creating stainless-steel parts twice as strong as traditionally made ones.In addition, the world’s first bio-inspired 3D printed cement paste has been produced, which refills when cracked and thus promises to make infrastructure more resilient to natural disasters and ageing.

  1. The walls have eyes: facial recognition.

Facial recognition technology is finally ready for its post-phone future. Questions remains as to whether as a society we are ready for its implications even as businesses roll out its use. Delta Air Lines is launching what it calls the first “biometric terminal” in the US, using facial recognition at check-in, security and boarding. Doha’s Hamad Airport wants to use the technology – seen in Dubai’s virtual tunnel-shaped aquarium- to eliminate the need for passports within 5 years. Since 70.4 percent of passengers want tech to help speed things up at the airport, and with 77 percent of airports and 71 percent of airlines considering biometrics options, we would expect airports to become the first widespread case use for the technology. Its wider use in society will almost certainly be more contested, however.

  1. Cognitive commerce

Artificial intelligence is hardly a new phenomenon – it could have featured as a top technology for every one of at least the last twenty years – but as capabilities increase, so do its implications. Some 47 percent of smartphone shoppers would like a service that automatically restocks everyday items, 63 percent of whom think most people will have a personal shopping advisor within three years. Meanwhile nearly one in three consumers globally say they plan on buying an AI device or personal assistant, but this is close to 50 percent in East Asian countries. It is only a matter of time – perhaps less than a year – before these personal devices mesh with in some with either Google’s predictive tech or Amazon’s recommendation engines. When it does, we will be on the frontlines, perhaps prosaically at first, of automated cognitive consumption.

  1. Mini me digital twin

Cognitive commerce may require a digital go-between along the lines of a digital avatar or virtual assistant, to represent us, prompt us or point us towards recommendations.Gartner sees mainstream adoption as early as 2020, along with speech recognition. We would therefore expect prototypes chiefly representing ordinary consumers, as opposed to brands, to appear in the interim. Some 48 percent like the idea of a digital alter ego; in-fact 46 percent say it would help improve the quality of their life. With digital identity also set to become a key industry and technology in its own right, the idea of our own personal digital twin – a trusted (by ourselves and those we interact with) verified, online presence could quickly become a key staple of digital life.

  1. The IoE

With 4,756 IoT connections now being made every minute, perhaps it is no longer enough for every company to be a tech company or even a digital company. The Internet of Everything is set to boom thanks to ‘…sticker-like electronics or sensors,’ that can be attached to the outer surface of any given object. This could add an Internet connection to almost any product, even without manufacturing changes. Thanks to synergies with other technologies, such as blockchain, around one-third of potential deployments are applicable across multiple industries. This brings a new disruptive wrinkle to the technologyand could move it out of the hype and experimentation phase into a new way of doing things.

Written by David Smith, Chief Executive, Global Futures and Foresight.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

SAMI Consulting was founded in 1989 by Shell and St Andrews University. They have undertaken scenario planning projects for a wide range of UK and international organisations. Their core skill is providing the link between futures research and strategy.

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