It’s an exciting time to be alive. With technological advances racing ahead, we can expect tech trends like smart homes, artificial intelligence and even driverless cars to become more prevalent in our everyday lives. These are the top 5 hottest tech trends to watch for in 2018.
1) Smart Homes
In 2017, this tech category gained widespread recognition with voice-enabled smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and its Alexa virtual assistant. While Echo has been around since 2014, it gained more traction toward the end of 2017.
According to Juniper Research, the number of Americans using these types of devices jumped nearly 130% in 2017 compared to the previous year. They predicted that by 2022, more than half of U.S. households will have at least one smart home speaker.
In 2018, the concept of smart homes is expected to take a giant step forward by delivering convenience to customers (literally). On November 8th, Amazon launched a service called Amazon Key that includes a kit containing an Amazon security camera, the Cloud Cam, and a compatible smart lock starting at $249.99.
Targeted at Amazon Prime members concerned with leaving packages outside, this service allows you to order products for delivery by clicking the “in-home” shipping option.
Once the delivery driver arrives, Amazon verifies the delivery time and address. They then allow the driver into your home to leave your package safely inside while you remotely watch the delivery from your phone as the Cloud Cam records the delivery.
This service is intended to extend beyond Amazon deliveries. You can also use it to let friends, family and other service professionals such as cleaning services or pet sitters into your house when you’re not home. But the real question remains – will Amazon Prime members trust the eCommerce giant enough to let them into their homes when they’re not around? We’ll find out in 2018!
2) Internet of things (IOT)
Internet of Things, otherwise known as IoT is a concept that connects devices together and exchanges the data. These devices could be anything from smart locks or smart watches to industrial machinery that sends a signal when a machine part is about to fail. The number of IoT devices is expected to reach 11.2 billion in 2018. This increasing number of devices is predicted to expand the processes that utilize IoT, making them even easier and more accurate.
One drawback to the heavy use of interconnected devices and IoT is security concerns. While cyber-attacks are frequent now, they could become even worse as IoT devices grow. Vulnerabilities could be seen throughout our homes, cars and even bodies as implanted pacemakers and insulin pumps are also vulnerable to hacking. As IoT devices grow and security concerns increase, we hope to see advances in IoT security throughout 2018.
3) Driverless Cars
Alphabet, the self-driving division of Google’s parent company, has been testing their self-driving car company Waymo in Phoenix, Arizona. In November of 2017, they rolled out self-driving cars to the public through their early rider program.
Waymo plans to launch a driverless car service throughout the city in 2018. Waymo’s vehicles will pick people up and drop them off like Uber, but without a human in the driver’s seat. To start, Waymo won’t be charging for rides and they will have at least one employee in the back seat, but they’ll have no more control over the vehicle than a regular passenger.
This is a big step forward for driverless car tech as a whole and it’s an indication that this company is years ahead of its competition since most automakers are targeting self-driving car services for 2021.
4) Augmented Reality
In case the term is still relatively new to you, augmented reality (AR) is the process of overlaying digital images onto the real world. The Pokémon Go app was one of the latest examples of augmented reality to take the world by storm.
In 2018, AR is positioned to grow exponentially due to Apple and Google’s recent push to make the technology mainstream. Late 2017, Apple updated iOS, it’s mobile operating system, with some new features to run augmented reality apps.
Some apps extend beyond games and offer helpful tools for everyday life. For example, there are now apps that exist in the Apple App Store to help you measure the length of your TV. You’d just adjust the length as you move your phone and it would function just like a tape measure. Another example is IKEA’s Place app that allows users to scan rooms and add virtual furniture to see what the furniture looks like in their home.
While Google’s previous AR efforts fell flat with their release of Google Glass in 2012, they’ve made another push toward AR by integrating cameras on their new Pixel 2 phones that are particularly good for augmented reality. Google even released an AR kit for developers called ARCore, to encourage developers to create more AR apps in 2018.
5) Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Google might be taking AI and smart homes one step further. There’s been a lot of buzz since Google applied for a patent that many are referring to as an AI ‘babysitter’ system designed to protect unattended children.
The tech firm’s patent describes a series of “devices and methods for protecting unattended children in the home”. The system would use motion detectors or touch sensors and home security cameras to identify when an infant has been left unsupervised for more than 10 minutes and notify parents by text or email.
This system takes advantage of smart home devices that could shut off electrical sockets when a child gets near, send alerts to parents and lock digital doors to prevent the child from escaping a room – all controlled by a smartphone.
While the system is not designed to replace adult supervision, it intended to keep children safe in the event of an emergency beyond the parent or guardian’s control. It remains unclear whether Google plans to make this technology available to the public, but this news offers an interesting glimpse into how AI may shape our lives in the near future.