“YleX stage ceiling” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Adrián Pérez
We live in a time when innovations and inventions are, perhaps, more advanced than they’ve ever been. While today’s tech developers certainly stand on the shoulders of giants, they’re also working new and exciting projects that were once the work of science fiction. With 2018 promising to release even more exciting ideas and trends, we’ve outlined three areas you should focus on if you’re interested in innovation.
More Blockchain Innovation
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Bitcoin firmly established itself as a legitimate technology in 2017. Despite being around since 2009, a variety of factors made it mainstream news and that pushed its value up by a factor of 20x last year. With the cryptocurrency finally receiving the acclaim early adopters had predicted, attention has also turned to the underlying technology behind bitcoin: the blockchain. Various industries and companies have already started experimented with blockchain innovations, but 2018 will see this drive kick into a new gear. Already in 2018, we’ve seen the rise of Tron.
In simple terms, Tron is a blockchain-based technology that uses smart contracts to store and verify content. With central entities such as Google and Facebook essentially storing and, therefore, controlling all the content online, Tron is looking to reshape the internet. Although it could take a while to catch on, Tron has the ability to decentralize the way content is stored online and, in the process, create a better revenue model for content creators.
Improved Virtual Reality
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Another big story in 2017 was virtual reality (VR). Although headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive made their way to market in 2016, the last 12 months saw their first full year of trading. According to the stats, the market for VR and augmented reality (AR) hit $11.4 billion in 2017. However, by 2020, analysts expect its value to top anywhere from $120 billion to $140 billion+. Naturally, to get to that point, the industry needs to evolve and that means more hardware, but also more software.
Already, we’ve seen some interesting new avenues for VR. Developers in the casino industry have already started to take the popularity of live dealer casino games and use that as a basis for VR-based games. With live casino technology using RFID chips and webcams to create a realistic gaming environment, online casino players are already accustomed to lifelike games. The next step in this trend is to embrace VR. Companies such as Microgaming have already taken the first steps with an award-winning VR Roulette product, but that won’t be the last. Indeed, it’s products such as this that will make VR more prominent and, therefore, more common across the entertainment sector in 2018.
Artificial Intelligence Will Get Smarter
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Although artificial intelligence (AI) might not be as widely understood as blockchain or VR, it’s undoubtedly one of the most significant innovations of our time. Although AI has been theorized and written about since the 11th century, it’s practical development in the last five years has been marked. Amazon’s Alexa has brought the most accessible version of AI into our homes, but there is much more to explore in the coming months. According to Carolina Milanesi, a technology analyst for Creative Strategies, tech is all about what’s happening “inside” this year. Ahead of CES 2018, Milanesi explained that machine learning means that everything around us is getting smarter.
Although finely tuned smart cars and the like might not emerge in 2018, they will eventually. In the coming months, however, we can expect more smart home products. Apple’s HomePod will go live this year and use the company’s Siri technology to offer a similar service to Alexa and Google Home. In fact, of all the tech trends we’ve listed, smart homes are likely to have the most obvious and direct impact. Regardless of whether you’re a technophile or not, more innovations are creeping into our homes and that means that everyone will soon be engaging with the latest technology.