Happy New Year, everyone! To ease your way into 2018, we would like to start the year with a forecast of the key trends that will mark the world of tech in the coming months. So if you’re wondering what groundbreaking technological developments are coming our way this year, keep reading.
1. Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Things
Artificial intelligence (AI) is computer science technology that aims to create intelligent machines through knowledge engineering, machine, deep learning and mathematical algorithms. Consultancy Grand View Research projects that, by 2025, AI direct revenue will increase by a factor of 55 compared to 2016, corresponding to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57.2%.
AI has a massive potential to disrupt multiple industries and sectors, reinvent business models and ecosystems, transform the customer experience and take decision-making to the next level. Many businesses are already exploring with the use of AI not only in their product development, but also in management and other operational processes. Gartner, a research and advisory company, forecasts that, by 2020, 30% of chief information officers (CIOs) will include AI in their top five investment priorities. 2020 is around the corner, meaning that the years leading up to it will see major investments (and developments) in data preparation, algorithm development and model creation.
In addition to opening new avenues for tech solutions, AI will likely be increasingly incorporated in almost all the common applications and services we are using at the moment. We at AtomLeap anticipate that new ground will be broken in Intelligent apps, augmented analytics and insight discovery and sharing ground this year.
Building upon the developments in AI, AI-powered IoT devices (or Intelligent Things) promise to transform the way we do business and how we live our lives. Intelligent things also promise to make the world a more equitable place, if used correctly. For instance, some of the experimental uses of these objects thus far have had to do with enabling the elderly to use home care apps or the disabled to enjoy internet services by simply talking to devices.
2. Mixed Reality
Mixed Reality (MR) combines the best characteristics of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), thus enabling users to seamlessly navigate through both the real and virtual environments simultaneously. Unlike the VR experience, which places the user in an entirely virtual world, in MR objects are placed in the user’s real world space, and therefore augment their real world environment by making the virtual elements look real. MR is a broad term that encompasses all the possible variations and compositions of real and virtual objects.
By using MR, businesses will be able to enhance services through the overlay of graphics onto objects in the real world. Windows Mixed Reality, DataMesh MR solutions, IBM App and Microsoft’s HoloLens are just a few examples of how this technology can immersify gaming, travelling or shopping experiences, and disrupt industries as disparate as real estate and photography, taking them quite literally to the next level.
According to market research company Markets and Markets, MR is expected to grow at an average CAGR of 75.2% between 2016 and 2020, up to $453.4 million. This fast growth rate, albeit from a low base, will come as a result of an overall increase in the popularity and use of MR, the development of new application methods, as well as a hike in investment and greater interest in the technology among corporations like Microsoft Corporation, Atheer Labs, and Meta Company, which are already working on developing new MR products.
The potential applications MR are vast, and, as such, the technology has the potential to change numerous areas for the better. For example, agencies like Studio 216 are applying VR, AR and MR to real estate in order to save time and significantly improve the overall customer experience. Accenture, in turn, is exploring the MR applications that will disrupt the workplace, like sharing real-world virtual workspaces, accessing remote experts and using context-relevant information to improve work experience.
While 2017 has been a year of massive improvements in AR, MR and VR industries, 2018 is expected to bring even more advancements in usability, price and display resolution due to an increasing range of devices and the growing amount of quality content created for them. A company to watch this year is Finnish startup Varjo, which is currently leading the way in MR development.
‘Blockchain’ was likely the word of the year last year. But if you’ve had enough of it already, we have bad news for you, for the blockchain revolution is only just getting started. That said, we at AtomLeap anticipate that blockchain will continue to be overplayed this year, and that there will be a lot more hype than tangible benefits from its incorporation in different applications.
However, research company Forrester and other trend analysts are expecting that “a viable blockchain-based market will be commercialized” in 2018, with applications that will go beyond cryptocurrencies. The rapid development of blockchain has not been lost on the investor community. According to CoinDesk, blockchain venture capital reached $107 million in 2017, whereas initial coin offerings (ICOs), a crowdfunding technique based on the issuance of cryptocurrency, amounted to $36 million. Deloitte expects blockchain to attract more venture capital investments in 2018 than other fast-growing technologies like cloud computing, data analysis and internet of things.
Blockchain is the technology upon which Bitcoin (and all other cryptocurrencies) is based. In 2017, more than 300 new cryptocurrencies were listed on TokenMarket.net, which is one of the multiple cryptocurrency calendars launched last year alone. This demonstrates that blockchain has gained popularity among the tech community.
An important challenge facing blockchain this year is increased regulation. South Korea has already decided to completely ban cryptocurrencies, and regulators around the world are likely to pay increased attention to cryptocurrencies in 2018, as their number and that of their users continues to rise.
A word of advice for companies is that they identify all the drawbacks and the benefits that blockchain has to offer, as well as the skills needed to implement and use the technology successfully. Businesses should take the time to research why and if they truly need to blockchain-ize their product, without following the trend blindly.