Tech Predictions for 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018/Categories: Home Internet

A few big, long-expected trends emerged in 2017; namely, the ubiquity of machine learning in the ecommerce shopping experience and the increasingly widespread use of voice-controlled home automation devices. These highly personalized experiences leverage the power of big data, a trend that’s expected to continue in a wide variety of new applications, gadgets, software, and cloud-based technology in the upcoming year. Here are some things to watch for.

New and More Advanced Algorithms

Advanced algorithms have powered the digital interface of nearly every industry. Looking for a ride? Uber’s algorithm helps you find the highest-rated driver that has the closest, next-available vehicle. Looking for a date? Algorithm-powered apps like Hinge help you find people with mutual friends and common interests.

However, these brilliantly designed formulas and the startlingly accurate results they produce come with a backlash. Consumers worry about privacy concerns, and tech giants like Facebook have been under fire with claims that their data mining efforts have violated a social contract with their users.

As 2018 kicks off, expect to see new and more advanced algorithms in wireless-enabled cars and, potentially, self-driving cars. Also, expect the privacy backlash to force companies to use less intrusive lo-fi sensors and softer sales approaches.

More Voice-Controlled Home Automation and Digital Assistants

The voice-controlled digital assistant was the biggest story of last year. As of November 2017, Amazon reported Echo sales estimates between 19.5 to 21.5 million. Following holiday discounts and the largest online Black Friday sales ever, Amazon also reported that its Cyber Monday was its most successful yet. The research firm, Strategy Analytics, claims that nearly 70% of all voice-activated speakers sold in 2017 worked with Amazon.

In an attempt to grab a piece of the digital assistant market, Google released Home, which integrates your Google suite and search preferences with your home’s appliances.

Coming up in early 2018, watch for Apple to release its own voice-controlled digital assistant and speaker, the Homepod. The market advantage this product will have over the Echo and Home is Apple’s ability to produce high-quality sounds through state-of-the-art speakers, thanks in part to its acquisition of Beats by Dr. Dre and creation of Apple Music.

Samsung, which launched its own digital assistant named Bixby last year, is expected to release a much-anticipated update to the technology.

Smarter Cities, Smarter Cars

Self-driving cars, once a pipe dream, are now the obsession of tech industry billionaires and the automotive industry at large. The only problem is it’s still a long way from being technologically and financially viable. It’s also a long way from being accepted by consumers.

Not to worry. We will see new, safety-enhancing features, like collision avoidance technologies, that demonstrate the tremendous potential of smart car innovation.  

The questions remains, however, can the trend of fully integrated technology permeate public infrastructure? The international consulting firm, Deloitte, believes it can. The company recently published a study called Smart Cities: How Rapid Advancements in Technology Are Reshaping Our Economy and Society, which outlines the cost benefits of using sensors to promote energy efficiency and economy-stimulating disruptive technologies.

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