30th December 2017No Comments

4 technology trends that will transform our world in 2018

Fortune's predictions for 2018

Predicting the future requires hubris, and it should, therefore, be met with more than a terabyte of scepticism. In past years, I’ve made some calls that have proved prescient like predicting way back in 2011 that social media would determine the U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, some took decades longer than I had foreseen such as my 1992 prediction that this new thing called the Internet would lead Hollywood studios to merge with telecommunications companies.

Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way to predict the future is to hang out with the people creating it. When you work with a top consultancy and have leading technology innovators as clients, it’s pretty easy to recognize trends that have the greatest potential impact.

Here are my top four tech trends for 2018:

1. IoT becomes BIoT

The biggest mistake most prognosticators make is underestimating the potential for fast growth in our hyper-connected world. Automobiles took time to catch on because would-be drivers had to wait for roads and gas stations to be built.

But today’s disruptive innovations rely on existing infrastructure for mobile devices that puts most companies just a few clicks from billions of consumers. One of those is the Internet of things (IoT), which involves adding smart sensors to connected devices so that users can do things like ask Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant to turn off the lights or order a pizza.

But blockchain, one of the underlying technologies for the hot cryptocurrency bitcoin, can make IoT devices even more useful. It creates a digital record across hundreds or thousands of computers, vastly reducing the risk of hacking.

Combining IoT with blockchain —or BIoT—ushers in a whole host of new services and businesses. For example, BIoT can be used to track shipments of pharmaceuticals and to create smart cities in which connected heating systems better controls energy use and connected traffic lights better manage rush-hour.

In 2018, companies will begin to use Application Programming Interfaces, or software used to connect different databases and computer services. Combined with the blockchain Internet of things, it will be as easy to get data from sensors in a warehouse as accessing websites on our mobile phones. When manufacturers, retailers, regulators, and transportation companies have real-time data from sensors embedded on products, trucks and ships, everyone in the distribution chain can benefit from insights that they were previously unable to get. With BIoT, companies and consumers can also be assured that their most valuable data on the blockchain cannot be hacked.

2. The fintech renaissance

While bitcoin and blockchain were grabbing the headlines in 2017, social and mobile payments have fundamentally changed the financial markets. In China, mobile payment volumes now exceed $5 trillion annually.

All aspects of the payments chain are open to disruption as blockchain speeds clearinghouse functions while smart contracts handle settlements. In 2018, look for biometrics such as facial recognition, voice ID, and fingerprints to help make shopping far quicker —by eliminating the need to swipe a credit card at checkout, for instance. Instead, you will be able to verify your identity for a merchant scanning your eyes with your smartphone, in what’s known as a retinal payment. A bold clairvoyant could even predict that some major retailers will hop on the cryptocurrency bandwagon and issue their own secure currency next year.

Fintech will likely also become greener in 2018. With cryptocurrencies reaching over $300 billion in total value, there is now a financial incentive for investments into quantum computing, which involves using the behaviour of energy at a subatomic level to process computing functions at a billion times faster than today’s microprocessors.

By some estimates, mining today’s cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, requires more electricity annually than the amount of energy used in 159 countries. With cryptocurrency’s carbon footprint rapidly growing, quantum computing has the potential to greatly reduce the estimated 28TWhs of electricity consumed by all of the current computers processing bitcoin.

Analysts now anticipate that banks will derive over $1 billion annually from blockchain-based cryptocurrencies within the next two years as traditional financial institutions start treating cryptocurrencies and other digital assets similar to traditional fiat currencies with more efficient payment systems, loan processing, and credit instruments. Going green by using less energy to create bitcoins, will translate into earning more green.

3. Augmented reality goes mainstream

Before smartphones existed 10 years ago, most people would consider spending five hours daily staring at your phone as crazy. In 2018, the bent-neck trend will start to reverse itself.

The mobile game Pokémon Go has unleashed a billion-dollar demand for augmented reality entertainment, and major brands are taking notice. Thanks to the introduction of affordable augmented reality glasses, our phones will remain in our pockets and Heads Up Displays (HUD) will improve how we work, shop, and play.

HUDs, best known today as the instrument gauges that fighter pilots monitor on their visors or windshields, will become a standard in consumer eyeglasses. Imagine walking down the street in a foreign country, for example, and having all of the store signs instantly translated into English thanks to your trendy sunglasses.

AR will customize in-store experiences with mannequins that match your body type and display enough virtual inventory to rival any online site. Merchants will create AR experiences with their packaging so that demonstration videos can appear when you look at the product on the shelf or celebrity spokespeople can magically stand in the aisle to pitch the product. Virtual pop-up stores can be built to appear anywhere that crowds are gathered (in a stadium, a busy street corner, or even inside a subway). These non-brick and mortar retail locations will bring new opportunities for merchants to create engaging shopping experiences anywhere with accessible bandwidth.

Li-Fi, a new light-based wireless connection with data speeds 100 times that of Wi-Fi, will bring high-definition virtual objects into stores. With Li-Fi and AR, consumers can see limitless virtual inventory in-store, at scale.

With just a wave of your hand, a car salesperson can change the model, colour, and customized features of the car “sitting” on the dealership’s showroom floor. Combining real and virtual objects can enhance experiences for all out-of-home activities. Sports stadiums will be brought into the 21st century with personalized HUDs of players on the field. Imagine watching a live football game in the stadium and seeing personalized stats floating above the fantasy sports players you follow. When watching sports from home, AR has the potential to bring the excitement of life-size boxing matches into your living room. The real promise of AR is to bring people the information they need without having to ask for it.

For many, 2018 will be the start of living an augmented life.

4. 2018 is the year of the bots

We all have gotten used to speaking with bots whenever we call to make airline reservations or to confirm our bank account balances. The use of natural language bots will expand from use as automated customer service agents to become routine for daily living.

Home bots will do more than just respond to requests, to being able to provide timely information such as, “It’s time to take your medicine.” You may even feel like Don Quixote as mobile bots become dedicated Sancho Panza servants—always at the ready and by your side.

Imagine a bot whispering in your ear “don’t make that purchase or you will be over your credit limit” or “your parking meter expires in two minutes.” Bots will help with the children, act as financial investment advisors, and be an omnipresent value-add from the brands you trust. With phones staying in our pockets, businesses will likely spend more on creating chatbots in 2018 than on apps in an effort to better serve their customers.

There’s always room for the future to unfold unpredictably

As timely as I believe these four predictions to be, the pace of disruption can be slowed by a host of issues, including cybersecurity, government regulation, and, most importantly, consumers’ ability to adapt and accept change. In this era of endless innovation, the only prediction you can be 100% assured of is that future will look very different from today.

Jay Samit is independent vice chairman of Deloitte’s Digital Reality practice and author of the bestselling book “Disrupt You!”

 

via Fortune

24th November 2017No Comments

The best inventions of 2017 – part 2

A simpler home security system, a craft that will probe beyond the surface of mars, a VR headset and a DIY cooking companion.

A Simpler Home Security System

Nest Secure / $499

Most home security systems are created to keep intruders out. Nest, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, built its Secure system“the complete other way around,”says chief product officer Matt Rogers, choosing to focus just as much on making it simpler for its users to get in. Case in point: the Secure hub can be disarmed by waving a key fob instead of typing a pass code, and those key fobs can be programmed to work within certain time frames—so a babysitter, for example, could access your home only while she’s working. A smartphone app also lets users manage their system from afar. (Similar tech exists from Abode and SimpliSafe, among others.) Of course, the Secure is plenty capable of guarding a home: if an intruder tries to break or unplug the hub, it will sound an 85-decibel alarm, and companion motion sensors can alert users when a door or window has been opened. —Lisa Eadicicco

 

A Craft That Will Probe Beyond the Surface of Mars - NASA Mars Insight

The train to Mars pulls out only once every two years. That’s how often Earth and its neighbor move into alignment for the quickest possible journey from one planet to the other. NASA plans to make good use of the 2018 window, with the planned launch in May of the Mars InSight lander, which, as its name suggests, will give scientists their best look ever at the interior of the Red Planet. (The InSight was initially slated to launch in ’16, but glitches in its seismograph system led to delays.) Unlike Curiosity and other Mars rovers, this craft will stay in one place. But with good reason: it will hammer a probe more than 16 ft. into the Martian surface to study the planet’s thermal history—in effect, taking its geological temperature. Meanwhile, the seismometers will study Mars’ composition, an X-ray radio link will analyze wobble (the way Mars spins on its axis and is gravitationally tugged by other bodies in the solar system), and cameras will return panoramic and 3-D pictures. The space- craft should operate for 728 Earth days (708 Martian sols)—or until just about the time the 2020 flight is ready to go. —Jeffrey Kluger

 

A VR Headset That Stands Alone - Oculus Go

For all its futuristic hype, virtual reality is a fairly clunky technology: even the best headsets require extra gadgets, such as smartphones or laptops, to work. Not so with Facebook’s Oculus Go, a $199 wearable computer that operates entirely on its own. (HTC and Lenovo are working on similar devices.) Its tracking capabilities aren’t as advanced as those found in its pricier counterparts—a function of having less physical space for computing power.“There are always trade-offs” when making something light enough to strap to your head, says Max Cohen, head of mobile product at Oculus. But Facebook’s goal with Oculus Go, which will launch next year, isn’t to create the most realistic VR experience; it’s to create the most accessible one. “[We want to] make it easy for people to say, Oh I don’t have to make sacrifices to get into VR,” says Cohen. —Lisa Eadicicco

 

Tasty One Top / $149

With more than 100 million followers across Instagram and Facebook, BuzzFeed’s Tasty— which distills complex recipes into bite-size video tutorials—may well be the Internet’s most popular cooking channel. But there’s “a gap between being excited about seeing something on Facebook and actually doing it,” says Ben Kaufman, head of BuzzFeed’s Product Labs. So he and his team set out to close it. The result: Tasty One Top, an induction cooktop that syncs with the Tasty smartphone app to guide would-be chefs through different recipes. A built-in sensor and companion thermometer track temperature, so the app can tell users when to flip a steak, for example, to make sure it’s medium rare. Other companies, such as FirstBuild, Hestan and Pantelligent, have launched similar products in recent years. Tasty’s advantage is its already robust arsenal of recipes, spanning everything from cheeseburger onion rings to ice cream churro bowls. Both those recipes require deep frying, which “freaks a lot of people out,” says Kaufman. But having an appliance that makes it “easy and predictable,”he adds, should empower them to try. —Lisa Eadicicco

 

Via Time

24th November 2017No Comments

The Best Inventions of 2017 – Part 1

Wristbands that help babies get a better start, a porta gaming console, better football helmets and super sustainable crops...

Bempu

Fat is an extremely useful quality in babies. Without it, they can rapidly lose body heat, become hypothermic and develop breathing and other problems. But in areas with few resources, where the numbers of premature or low­-weight births are highest, most hospitals and clinics can’t afford incubators to keep babies warm, and most parents don’t know their babies are in danger until it’s too late. Enter the Bempu, a $28 light-­up temperature­-monitoring bracelet that fits on a baby’s wrist; it sounds an alarm and flashes orange if babies are too cold, so mothers can warm them against their skin or swaddle them. So far, the device has helped an estimated 10,000 newborns, mostly in India but also in 25 other countries. And earlier this year, it won a $2 million grant from Saving Lives at Birth to scale its distribution even wider. “Our goal,” says Bempu CEO Ratul Narain, “is to make a solid dent in the neonatal mortality numbers.” —Belinda Luscomb.

 

 

A Gaming Console That Lets You Play Anywhere - Nintendo Switch

“When you have a great game, that moment of disappointment is when you have to stop playing,”says Reggie Fils-Aimé, president of Nintendo of America. And so, with the Nintendo Switch, you don’t have to. In one form, it’s a handheld tablet, allowing a single user to game on the go. In another, two controllers slide off from the sides, allowing multiple users to get in on the action. Once they get home, they can slide that tablet into a docking station and continue playing on a legitimate home console. Gamers seem to like the flexibility: Nintendo has sold 7.63 million Switches since its March debut; it’s expected to surpass the company’s previous console, the Wii U, by the end of its fiscal year. —Lisa Eadicicco

 

Stronger, Safer Football Helmets - VICIS Zero1

For decades, football players have worn the same kind of head protection: hard, plastic helmets. About four years ago, Sam Browd, a pediatric neurosurgeon, started thinking about how to approach them differently. What if, he wondered, the outer shell were made of a flexible polymer? That way, helmets could work like car bumpers, reducing the force (and the sound) of a collision immediately on impact. He sketched a prototype on a napkin and brought it to contacts at the University of Washington; together they founded a startup, VICIS, to make it a reality. “We wanted to build the safest helmet ever made,”says Dave Marver, the company’s CEO. The result, made possible by some $40 million in investments, is the Zero1, which earned top marks in the NFL’s annual helmet testing for its ability to reduce the forces that can cause brain injury. It’s now being used by players on 18 NFL teams, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, and about 20 college teams. Next up: versions for younger athletes. —Jenny Vrentas

 

Super-Sustainable Crops - GreenWave 3D Ocean Farm

The future of farming is growing oysters, mussels, clams and seaweed on ropes anchored to the ocean floor. So says Bren Smith, a commercial fisherman turned director of GreenWave, a Connecticut nonprofit doing just that. The concept isn’t as wild as it may seem. As land farming becomes increasingly problematic—it accounts for a growing portion of the planet’s greenhouse­-gas emissions—and oceans get overfished, humans will need to develop alternative food sources. GreenWave’s crops offer compelling advantages: they’re protein-­rich, self­-sufficient (no fertilizer needed) and they even help combat climate change (by sequestering carbon as they grow). Of course, getting Westerners to center their diet on mollusks and seaweed is a stretch. Still, GreenWave sees potential: the group has helped fishermen establish 14 farms along the coast of New England since 2013, and now has plans to expand in California, the Pacific Northwest and Europe. —Julia Zorthian

Via - Time

 

 

18th November 2017No Comments

The Tesla Truck has arrived

A carbon fiber cab. A centrally-mounted driving position, like in a McLaren F1. A 500-mile range. Zero to 60 mph in five seconds. Semi-autonomous convoy capability. This is the Tesla Semi.

If Tesla can actually get it built, of course.

Tesla’s New Semi Truck Might Be Its Biggest Challenge Yet

As it continues to grapple with a serious production logjam for the Model 3 sedan, Tesla is set…

Musk immediately launched into some specs—and there’s a lot to take in. In particular, he claimed at highway speed, carrying a maximum load, the truck can handle a 500 mile range on a single charge.

In a side-by-side comparison of how fast it takes a diesel truck to move 0-60, he showed how quickly the Tesla semi can hit it: 5 seconds.

The interior offers one of the most striking features, up front. There’s center-mounted seating, like a McLaren F1.

“You’re positioned like a race car,” Musk said.

Musk also put to rest any questions about whether the truck will have automated capabilities on the highway. Every semi comes equipped with the latest Autopilot suite, he said, keeping the truck within a lane and allowing for automatic braking.

Onboard sensors will sniff out any signs of jackknifing and adjust power to the individual wheels to keep the ride steady.

He’s also boasting confidently about the semi’s safety and reliability—an interesting twist for a company that’s copped to having quality issues in previous products. Musk said the semi’s powertrain will be guaranteed for 1 million miles. With an electric powertrain, the brake pads will have “quasi-infinite” lifespans thanks to regenerative braking, he said.

Musk seemed particularly overjoyed about an over-the-top feature, surely to be an attraction to truckers across the world: explosion-proof glass. Seriously.

“It survives a nuclear explosion,” he said, “or you get a full refund.”

Even though Tesla’s factory in Fremont is packed to capacity, Musk felt confident enough to offer up this: if you order the truck now, it’ll arrive in 2019. It’s unclear where Tesla plans to build the truck, or how much it’ll cost to launch production. For context: those at the end of the Model 3 reservation line are expected to receive their all-electric sedan around that time, too.

“If you order the truck now,” Musk said, “you’ll get it in two years.”

Via Jalopnik

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