It seems that all anyone wants to talk about right now is artificial intelligence. Its importance cannot be overstated. In time, it is going to fundamentally change how we live, we work, and manage most aspects of our lives. Voice activated smart home devices are just the tip of the iceberg, where AI is concerned. But 2019 has many other emerging technologies that we expect to become mainstream this year.
5G Network Communication
It was 10 years ago, but it barely seems like yesterday that the 4G mobile network was released onto the market. In 2019, mobile network providers will start to offer 5G as standard. It isn’t just a faster and more stable version of 3G and 4G though. To explain it as such ignores the exciting developments for our mobile connectivity, especially for the remote worker who relies on mobile devices.
It’s far more powerful, enabling faster throughput between people and machines, between people and people, and machines and machines. Faster downloads, a more stable connection and the ability to work with machine learning and Edge computing (see below). 5G is a remote worker’s dream come true, in a way that 4G only hinted at becoming.
Science fiction writers and scientists have talked about nanotechnology and miniaturisation for decades. It’s been the subject of so many books in the fiction and non-fiction realms. The technology to create “cubesats” (satellites around 10x10x10cm) has been around 20 years but this year it takes a huge step forward. Several have already been launched into orbit, used as satellites for taking images.
In 2019, NASA will launch its first ever dedicated launch for cubesats and more are planned for launch this year than 1998-2017 combined. Using smaller rockets for lighter loads means cost saving to invest in some fantastic new technologies. This new breed will collect and communicate data across the planet in real time. What’s even better is that the current generation is made from recycled mobile phone parts.
With Cloud computing now the standard (although not everybody is quite there yet), all eyes turn towards what happens next. How can we improve Cloud computing? Now we know its shortcomings, what can we do about it? With ever more data being collected, and new ways to process it emerging, we need something else. The likely answer at the moment is Edge computing.
Edge can account for all the problems inherent in Cloud computing, concerning connectivity through centralisation in remote locations. Essentially, Edge computing keeps smaller data centres apart from large data centres to cope with this exact problem. This is useful for areas with intermittent connectivity to Cloud based services and acts as a failsafe when problems occur at the major hubs.
Although the technology is not set to go mainstream this year – several companies are running major tests. In the Netherlands, one company is set to test a five kilometre stretch of track to explore the theoretical technology first mentioned in 2012 by none other than Elon Musk. But what is it? If you’ve seen science fiction films from the last few decades, then no doubt you have already come across the concept.
To reduce air resistance, railways will run inside tubes where the air resistance is lower, reducing friction and energy expenditure. Passengers travel in sealed capsules or trains which move much faster than standard railway designs. Faster and cleaner mass transit is nearly here – ideal for the remote worker who likes to move around.
This may be cheating the headline a little. Although AI and machine learning are inextricably linked, they are not the same thing. Artificial Intelligence is coding that attempts to simulate the natural motions and language of a human. Chatbots are a great example of this. Machine learning is the ability of technology using AI to adapt to and learn things for which they are not programmed.
Machine learning could help businesses improve many of their processes in both B2B and B2C. We expect it to become intricately linked with big data: data mining, data analytics, and in pattern recognition too. This will help businesses and governments make much better decisions about a wide range of things.
This is another tech trend that is not new. But in 2019, we expect to see far more of them in public. Thanks to AI, machine learning, the internet of thing (IoM) and 5G, it’s almost inevitable that the digital world will continue to open up for more smart places. University campuses, residential tower blocks and business premises, and even some public spaces, such as tourist attractions, provide Wi-Fi access and have done for several years.
But smart places are about more than just Wi-Fi and the enhanced experience of the premises. They’re about having a technology infrastructure for Wi-Fi, support for localised apps, digital signage, enhanced security for users, and even AR and gamification of the experience of perception of place. For the infrastructure, it means improvements to the traffic management system.