As this decade ends, we must keep our eye on the next-gen of technology. Each of these five tech sectors are in their infancy and are nowhere near their true potential. Take a moment to examine the trends that will be shaping and evolving our world for years to come.
1) What Can 5G Do?
The next generation of mobile internet connectivity is 5G, with speeds ten times faster than the previous generation (4G). The new speed times are technically still experimental, we are still experiencing sustainable downloadable speeds of over 1 Gbps (on an extremely early version of 5G and somewhat spotty coverage).
To compare the speeds in a more practical way, a 2-hour long movie would take approximately 6 minutes to download on the current 4G network. Once 5G is established, it will take approximately 3.6 seconds to download a full-length movie!
The last time mobile carriers upgraded their mobile networks we got an explosion of mobile applications and streaming services. As this technology develops we should see another boom in how we use our devices, especially in Internet of Things.
2) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are already being used in our everyday lives. Ever wonder how you keep getting advertisements that seem to be targeting you directly? How does Uber and Lyft estimate ride costs, estimate time of arrival, and calculate best routes? Yes, these conveniences are some ways that AI and ML are reaching consumers. This industry has some big changes coming in the next decade.
So, why are companies invested into developing AI? AI is intended to give computers the ability to think, learn, and adapt without human intervention. In addition, machines are more precise, faster, and don’t have the emotional rationale that can impair, or guide, human judgement. Imagine a world where robotic doctors can assist in, or even perform surgery, leading to reduced risks of accidents and death.
Self-driving cars are already becoming a very realistic idea and could soon drastically change how we commute on a daily basis. The ideas are limitless, and AI and ML will enter a new and advanced phase over the next decade.
3) Internet of Things (IoT)
Simply put, IoT is any device that can connect to the internet and collect/share data. It can be something as simple as a Fitbit, to something much more complex like an airplane. According to ABI Research, there will be over 30 billion IP-connected devices by the year 2020.
So why will IoT be such a trendy technology going into the next decade? With the emergence of new technologies such as 5G, wifi-6, AI, and machine learning we can now compute things on a much faster level with much more accuracy.
A lot of these trends are connected and it’s creating a “perfect storm” for the new digital age with conveniences like the implementation of smart water, gas, and electric meters which can help save resources.
Almost any object will be able to collect and record data to help improve our lives in the future. This is no longer a dream, but a reality.
4) Edge Computing
As our need for collecting and sharing data rises, the way that we process that data is evolving. Cloud computing has provided a great solution for storing massive amounts of data, but problems are beginning to rise as IoT technology continues to develop.
IoT is collecting and creating a lot of data and that data is being stored on the “edge” of networks. When data is transferred from a device, it first goes to a centralized data processing center (the cloud), then allocated to an edge device (the “edge” of the network). The problem is when an IoT device needs data, the data takes extra time to travel from the edge device to the centralized processing center and back to the device. This can provide network latency, and for technology like self-driving cars and medical robots this could mean life or death.
As a solution to this problem, comes edge computing. With edge enabled devices, you can store your data on the “edge” of a network and with the combination of edge data centers, you can bypass the distance of sending the data to a central processing center and divert traffic to experience data in real time. Forward looking, cloud computing, and edge computing will continue to grow and intertwine themselves to help process data.
5) Virtual Reality (VR)
VR has been sort of a hit or miss with people over the last decade. One of the biggest hurdles is that it’s traditionally been very expensive. This has led to a lack of availability and market share of devices. Because of that, there has not been a huge demand for VR developers, and companies have been resistant to invest when it’s expensive with limited availability. However, things are trending upward and we are on the verge of an industry take off.
One giant renovation is the release of the Oculus Quest. The Oculus Quest has greatly reduced the price of high-end VR systems and made them more portable and easier to use. This advancement has created a bigger market for higher-quality developers which is developing a more polished user experience.
The technology is not only for entertainment. Companies are finding a lot of practical uses. For example, we are finding effective ways to deal with phobias, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and a lot of other mental health issues. What was once for entertainment may soon have public health and education benefits as practical applications for VR expand.