Technology moves at a mind meltingly fast pace, making predicting trends a tricky subject to broach, however there are emerging technologies, some surprising, that are bound to have a place in the top ten lists over the next 12 months and some which are well worth a mention.
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Tech giants are rolling out improvements in existing technology all the time and the latest in entertainment, medical science and engineering breakthroughs is right around the corner. We take a look at some of the technology currently being written about and where it’s heading over the next few months.
Though not without their teething problems the onset of self-drive cars are already being trialled across the world and in cities where they have been used, there have been increasingly more successes than failures. This makes them highly likely to have an official place on our roads over the next year or two.
Benefits include easing congestion on our increasingly crowded highways, safer for vulnerable passengers and with their electric or hybrid motors they are far friendlier to the environment.
With tech giants such as Tesla leading the charge, technology experts everywhere are predicting an explosion of self-drive usage, once initial problems are ironed out. One of the challenges facing the vehicles are street orientation in changing cities and dealing with unexpected obstacles and delays such as roadworks and diversions. Much to work on still but bound to be a success story in years to come.
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A return to faxing, really? Yes and in an age of unsecure emails and the many ramifications we’ve seen from that, the resurgence of faxing could be a lifeline for sending documents securely.
While the hardware itself might be almost obsolete, not many of us have fax machines in our offices any more, the updated version doesn’t require a trip to a retro tech store to get fitted out.
To send a secure online fax you just need an app on your mobile phone or computer and somewhere to print out the other end if needed. The beauty is you don’t even have to print out if not required, yet the safety aspect of encrypted files adds a secure wall around your most confidential documents.
Though perhaps more relevant in some fields over others this updated version of an older technology is bound to have offices up and down the country, considering adding more software to their tech collections.
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If you thought 4G was speedy then wait until you experience the processing speed of the 5G network. Though not available in much of the world just yet, work on the system is well and truly underway and could be with us as soon as 2020, if current reports are to be believed.
Aside from downloading your website quicker how else with 5G technology be an upgrade on current use? With this faster processing speed comes access to more complex online experiences. Where you once would have needed a good wifi connection to access things such as augmented and virtual reality programmes, you’ll now be able to take part in these processes without a wifi connection giving people much more choice in terms of workspace and leisure time.
Work to roll out 5G looks likely to progress fastest in China and other countries in Asia but with every promising step forward, this technological breakthrough could be with us very soon, heralding in a new era of data processing straight to our mobile phones and tablets.
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From the first ever print press, thought to be created around 1440 by Johannes Guttenberg, the printed word has never looked back. Of course even before Guttenberg’s machine there were versions of woodblock printing emanating from the Chinese as far back as the 6th Century but it was Guttenberg’s advancement that gave access to the masses. What he would have made of our current advancements in printing nowadays is anyone’s guess.
Now we are looking at incredible steps forward with the introduction of 3D printing, which has shown to be a promising but not without with its issues.
The 3D printer has proved to be incredibly useful in all manner of manufacturing fields, from clothing and textiles to engineering and architecture.
Of course one of the more exciting applications for this technology is in medicine and the possibility of being able to print body parts such as heart valves and artificial joints to precision accuracy, bespoke for each patient.
Where it has also proved useful is in the manufacturing of small machine parts, quicker and more detailed than production by a human, small, essential parts for aeroplanes, industrial machinery and the like will someday be run off a 3D printer. Replacing broken parts will simply be a step of printing off the right design, saving time and money and maybe even jobs.
However the technology can still be unstable depending on which type of material is being used and there is still work to be done on creating 3D printers that will produce reliable enough parts over a long enough time. Concern too, has also been raised by campaigners fearful that 3D printers might be used to manufacture gun parts illegally which are often highly dangerous and could result in serious injury or even death.
If we are to believe everything we see and read about, we’d think we were under constant cyber attack from criminals bent on getting into our accounts and hacking our personal files. While we may feel this is an overreaction, it only has to happen to us once and the consequences can be devastating. There’s a big difference of course between someone hacking into our social media and sending out inappropriate links to a hacker breaching and using your confidential business files against you for blackmail purposes.
We try our best to give ourselves at least minimal cover with sensible precautions such as changing our password regularly and keeping our anti-virus software up to date with regular downloads but it’s not always enough and certainly won’t stop a determined hacker, experienced in taking out much larger company security.
Thankfully though there are plenty of even more and better ways to help beat the hackers and those wishing to do us ill, particularly when it comes to protecting our finances. Advances such as instant pay on PayPal, using just an email, prevents a third party from having to know your bank details while heavily encrypted pay sites also offer a good amount of protection. But for the safest in transactions, it’s the cryptocurrency Blockchain and similar, that are pushing the envelope when it comes to high tech security. This online currency is encrypted from start to finish, making it next to impossible to copy or steal and protecting both buyer and seller.
It does have the disadvantage of being non-refundable so once a payment is made, it can’t be undone but that serves to protect buyers who have been promised payment and are met with claims that it definitely got sent.
With houses and physical goods already bought using Blockchain, it looks certain that cryptocurrencies will be the next big thing in data and financial security over the next 12 months and onwards.
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Of course this is not a new concept in itself but where Artificial Intelligence is heading is remarkable and will feature heavily in all aspects of our lives as the future unfolds. The advancements in this industry are life changing and controversial but always impressive.
In the area of entertainment, technology has already made its way into our homes with smart home voice activated AI, ready to play your favourite music, dim the lights, record your favourite shows and even turn your heating on and off. You can see who’s at your doorbell and set up integrated entry systems to your home. But this voice-activated advancement has other benefits too, particularly for older or more vulnerable people who wish to retain their independence and live alone.
Already this tech is being used to monitor the care of older people by checking for signs of movement and activity in homes and families are able to communicate by voice activated telephone systems that also allow face-to-face video technology.
In retail AI has proved helpful in acting as virtual shopping assistants, making recommendations and answering customer queries. This is where experts expect to see the largest advancements as more and more of us use this technology to help us shop online.
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If you’re a connected person with your computer hooked up to your TV, your mobile phone already handing over files to your laptop, the Internet Of Things is really going to fascinate you. Simply put this area looks at how we interconnect our technology to each other, whether issuing commands to your phone while driving your car or asking Alexa to turn your lights on, it looks certain that our personal home networks will expand and grow as smart tech develops.
Emerging trends are an exciting glimpse into our not-so-distant future, whether its driverless cars or voice activated pet feeders there will be something to get everyone excited over the next 12 months.