Much like The Force, technology surrounds us, penetrates us and binds together our galaxy, which is why it’s so hard to identify which technologies might have the most significant impact in the coming year.
2016 had its share of important technological breakthroughs that changed how we live, work, and play. Virtual reality made a big comeback in 2016 and is sure to get even hotter this year. Virtual assistants moved out of our cell phones and into our homes, and smart home technologies may have finally broken through to the mainstream after years of trying.
Every year brings with it new trends and innovations and 2017 will be no different. Whether you’re a manager or an entrepreneur, you should know upcoming tech trends and the impact they would have on your business.
Lets look at some of the biggest tech trends that will create huge waves in the digital landscape in 2017.
1. Artificial intelligence and automation
AI has come a long way from being algorithms to automate tasks to the broader framework that could replicate human thinking capabilities. The fact that Amazon and Google have already introduced voice AIs for our home.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announcing his personal AI assistant that plays a couple of pretty neat tricks speaks volumes about the potential of employing AI out of your homes and into the way we do business: letting the AI schedule production, inventory management, etc. Despite all the negativity surrounding AI, it could prove to be a game-changer come 2017.
2. Virtual reality
An year ago, virtual reality saw significant growth, improvement and visibility in 2016. It did not, however, transform society. VR will remain among the most important developing technologies in the coming year, but 2017 will mark the beginning of its transition from a curiosity into a tangible tool for enhancing otherwise mundane activities.
3. Personal streaming
With so many personal broadcast options out there 2017 will see an explosion of personal broadcast hardware. Think Snapchat Spectacles are cool (yes, we know they don’t exactly stream content)? Expect other social media and consumer electronics companies to start delivering wearable broadcast products that elevate the wearable fashion game while minimizing the “Are you recording me?!” creep factor.
4. Big Data humanization
The concept of big data has been around for quite a while now. In 2017, we will see big data come into its own and reshape technology. The year 2017 could prove to be a turning point for big data. As the humanization factor adds to it, it will go through the transformation. Therefore, more emphasis would be laid on empathetic and qualitative bits of information instead of quantitative ones. Refined visualization and easy accessibility will be added to projections made through big data.
5. Smart apps will make your life easy
Smart apps will replace personal assistants, both physical and virtual. With intelligent apps at your disposal, you do not have to worry about scheduling meetings, managing emails, and other similar tasks. David Cearley thinks that closer integration of AI into every app, service or architecture will make the smart app a reality. Cearley said, “Over the next 10 years, virtually every app, application, and service will incorporate some level of AI.” He thinks that this technology trend will continue for years to come.
6. The physical and digital world blur
Virtual reality was a big hit in 2016. But you can’t walk around the real world with a headset on. The dramatic rise and equally precipitous fall of Google Glass sites that walking around with space age glasses won’t work either.
Look for navigation services to get even more specific — maps in a store’s app, for example, to direct you to a specific aisle to find exactly what you’re looking for. So called “augmented reality,” where virtual objects and information are displayed on top of the physical world, will make its way to our phones. Search engines are already expanding on image search, allowing you to point your camera at something and search for information based on what the lens takes in.
And as Pokémon Go showed us in 2016, there’s a huge appetite for well-designed augmented reality games. While we can’t predict what game will get kids off the couch this coming summer, it wouldn’t be surprising if it comes in the mold of Pokémon Go.
7. Next-gen transportation
Self-driving cars are increasingly becoming a feature of everyday life. In 2017, we’ll see more autonomous people-mover style solutions (think minivans and buses) and a cascade of deregulation across the country. By the end of the year, most states will be autonomous-vehicle-friendly.
2017 may also be the year we finally see Elon Musk’s near-supersonic travel dream become real or at least tested in the real world when Hyperloop One runs its first, full test of the tube-based transportation system (assuming the company doesn’t implode before then).
8. Screen technology
In 2017, you might be enjoying a lot of that AR and VR on a new 4K smartphone screen. As the trajectory of HDTV technology flatlined over the last few years (no one really cares about curved screens or 3D, and “bigger” does not count as innovation), display manufactures have turned their attention to transforming the screens that are with us almost 24/7.
OLED screens should help 2017’s smartphones get thinner and more battery-efficient than ever. UHD screens arrived on smartphones back in 2015 (thanks, Sony! sort of), but haven’t expanded much beyond that. That will change in 2017. The big question is, can we even tell the difference between full HD (1080p) and UHD on a screen that small?
2016 proved that if you’re not very very careful in how you manufacture batteries and the technology surrounding them, things can go very very wrong. In 2017, there’ll be renewed focus on increasing the safety and longevity of lithium-ion technology. We may even see a trial run of lithium metal battery technology.
10. Security, privacy and biometrics
For years, fingerprint technology was reserved for business-class systems. Fingerprint readers on our smartphones have been a first step in broad consumerization of biometric security. The introduction of facial recognition on computers (Windows Hello) and Touch ID on MacBook Pros is a sign that the password is loosening its death grip on our personal privacy.
2017 may be biometric security’s breakout year. We’ll uses our fingers, faces, eyes, heartbeats and even activity patterns to unlock technology and protect our finances and privacy. By 2018, anyone who doesn’t use a body part to unlock technology will be viewed as a reckless oddball.
Encryption will continue its spread throughout mobile and communication technology, even as the incoming administration pressures companies to break into devices as law enforcement’s request. Will there be a very public battle about backdoor technologies in 2017? Probably.