We live in an era of constant change and ideas are advancing our world faster than ever before. Some of them are here for a long time already, while others are reasonably new. Due to constant development and a broad range they affect, it becomes increasingly harder to follow everything that can transform our world, especially when some concepts are harder to grasp.
Every discovery is not only a technological leap, but it also shapes the business world, people, and can lead to crucial changes in the day-to-day lives. We believe that the change is for the best, but nothing is a safe bet.
So, let's check out some of the picks that will rule the day in 2019. Some may call them gimmicks, but we believe next year is their prime time to shine and bring profit.
Nothing new here. You can hardly find anyone who doesn't know this magical word, even if they have no clue how it works—and rightfully so, since to the casual audience, it still looks like a puzzle. Although numerous projects feature ready-to-use products using it, the blockchain itself is not used widely. Some doubts may deem it as "immature" and assume it will take years or even decades for the technology to come into effect. But the concept itself sounds too promising to ignore and makes organizations rethink their existing tech stack. Also, the media has been fairly loyal to this technology: many people have been brought here thanks to the constant coverage from major news outlets. If you want to learn more about the whole blockchain thing, our technology enthusiast, Anastasiia Bobeshko, wrote an article explaining how the blockchain affects different industries.
Of course, there are some limitations that may impede certain companies from using it. For example, anonymity looks like an attractive shroud for all sorts of scammers, so no one can be 100 percent safe. Also, due to its encrypted nature, blockchain transactions, especially the ones that imply big sums of money, can be slow compared to other modern alternatives. Moreover, the transactions are irreversible, so if you made a typo in a wallet number, say "bye-bye" to your money, since it is now lost in cyberspace. Finally, many people simply resist the new stuff, let alone government institutions that were and remain the last place that innovates something within their structure.
However, this is heavily countered by all the benefits it brings upon itself:
- Unprecedented verification level;
- Not tied to the national currency, crisis-free anytime;
- No middlemen;
- Free from regulations;
- Irreversible transactions may also be viewed as a sizeable plus.
Moreover, many of its key principles are beneficial and applicable outside the financial sector: it's only a matter of time when more and more enterprises start using this technology in their day-to-day activities. As mentioned above, when it comes to cryptocurrency, the government feels hesitant about the blockchain. However, some countries started to experiment with the technology; for example, Thailand used blockchain-powered election votes this year. A fraud-free platform is surely the way to go and will see great use in 2019.
Clean Energy Distribution
Humanity is in a timeless pursuit to replace fossil fuels. Clean energy is the most suitable option as it's collected from renewable sources which are naturally replenished. As it's steadily rising in popularity and will soon be the main type of "fuel," we need to know how to store and distribute it the right way around. Another great sign is that solar batteries getting more affordable over time, resulting in the global energy storage market gaining momentum in the years to come as reported by Prescient & Strategic Intelligence, and 2019 is not an exception.
There are a number of companies such as our clients Budget Energie that already provide green energy via highly mobile storages that don't require a massive grid. The whole management is moved towards mobile apps where you can adjust and track the consumption level.
EcoStruxure is an example of a power distribution platform that provides an IoT-based smart grid, which drastically reduces the expenses and connects plants, IT products, machines, and power stations to enable self-circulating energy economy.
But Tesla is arguably the most prominent case of a company sticking to its eco-principles: their green cars are at the forefront of combatting emissions thanks to clean energy usage and compact charging stations. Its success in countries like Norway, according to Business Insider Nordic, is what spurs companies to stray from oil usage in favor of clean energy and improve upon making its distribution simple.
Among the future challenges, the wireless transfer is what stands out the most. If you've ever used an inductive charging pad for your smartphone, you know what we are talking about. Although it's a minor step in the right direction, we are on the way to seeing huge improvements in that department as companies like Ossia are ambitious enough to transfer energy like it's a Wi-Fi signal and the transfer capacity only gets bigger.
Self-Driving Cars and Drones
Don't be surprised to find yourself amid your favorite sci-fi movie or book soon (yes, we are that optimistic). Self-driving cars have the ability to function without your active involvement in the driving process and steadily become a part of our society. And the AI seems to be doing fine: despite the media highlighting its failures, the number of crashes is incredibly small. It's more about the mental factor: plane crashes are very painful to see, still, it's much safer to fly by plane than to use a car driven by a human. Experiments of integrating these cars started long ago, and now these technologies transfer more from control tests to our everyday life. As a result, this year's Web Summit PITCH competition honored two of these projects (Wayve and lvl5) among the medalists. The advancements in this area are fantastic: cheap cameras instead of sensors and the self-learning map can make you start thinking about stopping to drive by yourself.
Not only cars are subject to these experiments. "Drones" also are a very prospective field. Their range of use is very wide, so you can find successful use cases ranging from autonomous military drones to commercial services. These gadgets are geared to using the software, which makes them a perfect match for scanning purposes: whether it's rain prediction or crop status analysis, good programming will make drones pay off big time.
Depending on how far you want to move from real to a digital world, there is a whole set of tools that allows for an interactive experience. VR, MR, and AR are changing the way we perceive the world. XR is now a new window to a digital world and is made to change the way we interact with it and can help you build products depending on the needs.
In essence, XR is an umbrella term that features all the real or virtual environments generated by a computer. It's more of a general notion that often includes the "X" variables of computer-altered reality.
VR is a completely simulated digital world and creates an environment that looks completely real. Taking its roots from computer games, it's more about being fully immersive, using both videos or computer-generated (CG) content.
It's both great for the cinema or gaming purposes, not to mention virtual tours. Pair this with the significant gadgets' price drop and you get a great tool for both marketing and entertainment.
AR is all about the usage of neat CG stuff. Although they can't respond to real-life objects, the interaction is achieved by projecting CG objects onto a static world. This is a choice for exploration purposes: visual art expos or architecture pros have already taken advantage of this convenient technique.
MR, on the other hand, is all about the CG and real-life interaction. This type of overlay is the best fit for education purposes: whether it's military training, factory instructions or kids interacting with a virtual animal, this type of product has great potential in teaching people how to act in certain situations without any risk via a pleasing virtual interface.
Hardware has just recently become powerful enough to enable this type of experience. In addition to entertainment purposes, XR has shown its force in many industries, including healthcare and education. Some products, like Microsoft HoloLens, are no longer pricy and have gotten rid of the wires, which allows the whole field to grow rapidly and have a bright future ahead.
The fifth generation of connectivity will soon become a dominant one. It should be much faster than the already-existing standards and bring other notable advantages:
- Increased capacity — more devices and applications could use the Internet connection simultaneously;
- Decreased latency (how fast a network responds) leading to fewer lags and delays;
- Improved reliability and automation of connection to facilitate IoT;
- Energy saving: it's destined to increase the battery life, being a far superior option in terms of consumption.
Still, some challenges should be solved for its prevalence: usage of a millimeter wave band (higher frequency = tall order for manufacturers) as well as its deployment and optimization in the field. Also, the worldwide frequency mismatch (for instance, the US uses different frequencies than the rest of the world) may require additional standardization.
In spite of these challenges, LMT has already launched the first 5G station in Riga, Latvia and the other leading providers and telecommunication companies, such as Sprint, actively work to bring 5G to life.
Initially built to simulate physics, quantum computing (QC) has approached multiple areas where it could excel: cryptography, chemistry, and search algorithms. The idea is that the regular bit values (0 and 1) aren't fit for exploring advanced questions; meanwhile, QC gives an edge with qubits (that can have both 0 and 1 values at the same time).
Although it seems complicated for smaller ventures (not everyone can afford chemistry QC research like IBM), it's great for building security systems: both for privacy and authentication purposes. In other words, imagine when a system requires you to enter more values to your password to make it secure—at the same time, QC has it by default with each letter being a convoluted line of values.
With a number of ventures adopting QC, it has proved itself to be a reliable tool for Volkswagen, 1QBit, and NASA for their machine learning and simulations. It's just a matter of time when it becomes widely used by mid-tier and minor companies: the hardware is making huge strides and is becoming affordable very fast.
Internet of Things
IoT is all about 2 things: tons of connected devices and technologies. Cooperation with fields like Cloud Services, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence is also what gets this ball rolling. Although it's far from covering the whole globe, the IoT has given us enough examples of its effectiveness and proved that we can rely on that.
At its core, IoT is a huge web of sensors that enables interaction between countless gadgets but still requires a bit of human presence to come into effect. We all love cool graphics from the fancy presentations, and IoT is the best pick for enjoying that: studies show the rapid growth of these gadgets being used all over the world, and you can only imagine their potential. 7 billion gadgets that will soon become 25bn are waiting to be filled with the software or ads, depending on their operators.
Being no longer a whim for the Silicon Valley residents, it's a now a whole market to be fought for.
Many get confused with Deep Learning, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence, but it can be explained pretty simply, as they are basically a part of one another.
The best way to imagine AI is to recall the Terminator movies —a machine that is capable of doing human-like tasks and make its own decisions based on software's scripts, patterns, and logic. Deep learning, on the other hand, is what allows machines to learn and think just like a human being does. Machine learning is what helps AI-products vastly improve their performance and reduce the amount of hand-coding to enable analyzing and diagnosis features.
But don't panic, it solely serves for the greater good of humanity and is now used in robotics, medicine, automation, customer service, and other countless areas. Whether it's spotting depression based on speech or studying genomes to prevent diseases, rest assured that these kinds of products will only make our lives better.
But like every promising area, it has notable limitations, some of which are:
- It requires massive pieces of data and large processing power;
- There's not enough versatility —usually what's made for a certain area can't be applied to another one;
- It can't think for itself, so some supervision is still required.
Looking at how many AI products appear on the horizon, it's safe to say the following: AI is rapidly approaching our day-to-day lives and is starting taking care of things that humanity used to do. If you don't believe that, take a look at the recent Web Summit. The whole event was all about startups adopting this technology and self-learning algorithms, which resulted in a whole pedestal being taken by AI-based products, which is a clear signal about its potential in the upcoming year.
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