We live in the 4 th Industrial Revolution, and technology is changing faster than ever. Individuals and companies that aren’t updated with the latest tech trends risk being left behind. Knowing the trends is key to helping businesses and individuals prepare for the future and seize opportunities. As a futurist in technology and business, my job is to identify the most significant trends. This article will share the seven most important trends that everyone should be aware of in 2020.
Artificial Intelligence is the most revolutionary tech advancement of our time. In my book, ‘Artificial Intelligence in Practice’ I mentioned that most companies are exploring how AI can be used to enhance customer experiences and streamline business operations. This trend will continue into 2020. While people will become more comfortable working with AIs, creating and deploying AI-based systems for businesses will still be costly.
As-a-service platforms will continue to provide a lot of AI applications. This allows us to input our data easily and then pay for the algorithms and compute resources we need.
These platforms, offered by companies like Amazon, Google, or Microsoft, are often quite broad and require (often costly) custom-engineering to adapt them to specific tasks. We will see wider adoption of AI and a growing number of providers who are likely to offer more customized applications and services for specialized tasks. No company will be able to resist AI.
5G Data Networks
The 5th generation mobile internet connectivity will offer super fast download and upload speeds and stable connections. Although 5G mobile internet networks were made available in 2019, most were still costly and could only be used in specific areas or large cities. 2020 will likely be the year 5G takes off, offering more affordable data plans and greatly improving coverage.
Businesses must think about the business implications of super-fast, stable internet access. High-speed data networks will allow us to stream music and movies at a higher quality while on the go. Thanks to their much faster speeds, mobile networks will be more accessible than wired networks. Increased bandwidth will allow machines, robots and autonomous vehicles to collect and transfer more information than ever before, which will lead to advancements in the field of the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart machinery.
Although we aren’t yet at the point where we can expect to travel in or see autonomous vehicles, in 2020 regularly, they will continue to be a source of significant excitement.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that he expected his company to make a fully autonomous vehicle by the end of this year. The number of vehicles that can operate with less autonomy, such as automated brakes and lane changing, will increase. Other in-car systems that are not directly related to driving, like security and entertainment functions, will also become more automated and dependent on data collection and analysis. Google’s sister company Waymo just completed a trial with autonomous taxis in California. It transported over 6200 people within the first month.
It’s not just cars. Trucking and shipping are becoming more autonomous. Innovations in this area will continue to make headlines through 2020.
As autonomous driving technology matures, regulators, legislators and authorities will become more prominent. Before autonomous driving can become a reality, there will need to be changed in-laws, infrastructure, and attitudes as more people realize that autonomous driving is not a question of “if,” but rather “when”, we’ll likely see autonomous driving debates spread beyond the tech world in 2020.
Predictive and personalized medicine
The pace at which technology is transforming healthcare is unprecedented. We will be able to use data collected from smartwatches and other wearable devices to predict and treat health problems in patients before they even experience symptoms.
We will see more personalized approaches to treatment. This is also known as precision medicine, which allows doctors to prescribe and administer treatments more accurately based on data.
Although it’s not a new concept, recent technological breakthroughs, particularly in genomics, AI, allow us to understand better how different bodies are equipped to fight specific diseases. We also know how their bodies will react to different treatments or medications.
We will see new applications for predictive healthcare in 2020 and more effective and personalized treatments that ensure better outcomes for each patient.
Computer terms for “vision” refer to systems that can identify objects, people, and places from visual images. These images are collected by a camera, sensor, or camera. This technology allows your smartphone to identify which face is in an image and powers technologies such as Google Image Search.
We will see more computer vision-equipped tools and technology as we progress through 2020. It is fundamental to autonomous cars’ ability to “see” and navigate around danger. Computer vision cameras will be used to monitor production lines for defects or equipment failures. Security cameras will also be used to alert us to any unusual circumstances, but not 24/7.
Face recognition is another benefit of computer vision, something we will hear a lot more about in 2020. We have already seen the benefits of the technology in controlling access to our phones in the case of Apple’s FaceID. Dubai airport also uses it to make customer journeys easier. As the number of use cases increases in 2020, there will be more debates about limiting the technology’s use. This is because it has the potential to compromise privacy and allow ‘Big Brother’-like state control.
Extended Reality (XR), a broad term, refers to various new and emerging technologies used to create immersive digital experiences. It refers to mixed, augmented and virtual reality. Virtual reality (VR), which is a completely digitally immersive experience, allows you to enter a computer-generated universe using headsets that blur the real world. Augmented reality (AR), which overlays digital objects onto real-world displays or smartphones, is a form of virtual reality. (Think Snapchat filters). Mixed reality (MR), an extension of AR, allows users to interact with digital objects in the real world. For example, you can play a holographic piano from your AR headset.
Although these technologies have been around for some time, they have largely been restricted to entertainment. Oculus Rift headsets and Vive headsets provide the latest state-of-the-art videogames. Smartphone features like camera filters and Pokemon Go-style apps are the most prominent examples of AR.
As businesses learn to embrace the exciting possibilities of both XR and virtual reality, expect this to change by 2020. Training and simulation will be more common in virtual and augmented reality, and customers will have new ways to interact with them.
Blockchain is a trend in technology that I covered extensively this year. However, you are still likely to get blank stares if you mention the topic in a non-tech-savvy organization. 2020 may be the year that this trend changes. Blockchain is a digital ledger that records transactions, but it’s also secure due to its encrypted and distributed nature. Some commentators started to question the effectiveness of blockchain technology in 2019. However, FedEx, IBM and Walmart will continue to invest in the technology and, if they can prove their case, it could lead to a rapid increase in adoption by smaller companies.
If all goes according to plan, 2020 will see the launch of Facebook’s blockchain-based crypto, currently Libra. This is sure to cause quite a stir.
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