5 tech trends you’ll be talking about in 2018

Photo Credit Digitaltrends.com

This was a big year for tech. Twitter users finally broke free of their 140-character chains, while Tesla made good on its electric car for the people in the Model 3. The Wannacry ransomware attack became one of the most disruptive cyberattacks in history, and three commissioners on the FCC lead by Chairman Ajit Pai (at least temporarily) repealed Obama-era net neutrality rules.

Good news or not, it was a busy year in tech. 2018 looks no different, and we’re already watching some important tech trends that we expect to make waves in the new year. But first, let’s see how we did in predicting what we would be talking about in 2017.

Looking back at our 2017 predictions

The smart home finally seemed to take off in 2017, and indeed without the “smart hub” as we had predicted in late 2016. Why? Blame Amazon.

Alexa wiped the floor with its competitors during the year, and from CES 2017 onward it sure seemed like device manufacturers were tripping over themselves to flex their “Works with Alexa” muscle. While this has led to some pretty silly integrations, it’s also a testament to Amazon’s strength. This also left Google, Apple and Microsoft with a smaller segment of the market to fight over.

Thanks to the competition, you can now get in on the digital assistant craze for as little as $30: that’s a sixth of what it cost at the beginning of 2016. The ‘race to the bottom’ price-wise might have also solidified the current crop of assistants as the one that survive long term: it will be tough for new entrants to compete (Sorry Jibo).

Automation and AI also increased in adoption during the year, but perhaps not to the scale that we expected. Where we saw most of the automation was in chatbots, like expected, however the much-hyped Amazon drone delivery tests didn’t expand much further than where they stood during 2016 nor did we see anyone adopting automation any quicker than the current pace. AI and so-called ‘machine learning’ made a big splash though, especially in the app space.

Augmented reality seemed to fall off the radar during 2017 after a banner year in 2016 for both it and virtual reality. After Pokémon Go spread like wildfire, its use as well as other AR apps fell off during 2017.

Another miss was our prediction that fake meat would experience a boom. Despite our optimism, synthetic food still seems a ways away at the end of 2017. Beyond Meat, however, is making moves to change that, and towards the end of the year started appearing in Walmart Supercenters nationwide. That’s a start, but there’s a long way left to go before next-gen fake meat will show up on the mainstream dinner table.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad set of predictions, but it does appear that we might have been a bit ahead of ourselves in some cases. Now ,let’s take a look at our top five tech trend predictions for 2018! Hopefully we do a bit better this time.

The Blockchain

No, it’s not just Tulip Mania. The underpinnings of cryptocurrency — a distributed leger system called the blockchain — has a real place in the future of technology, regardless of whether or not the price of Bitcoin is $0 or $50,000.

The blockchain is the decentralized heart of cryptocurrency, and is a distributed ledger of records which allow for the verification of records without the need for a middleman. While its primary use in 2017 and before was to verify cryptocurrency transactions, developers are realizing it has uses outside of finance. Transaction records, or “blocks” are cryptographically protected and then distributed to all participants.

Photo Credit Blockchain.info

This allows transactions to be verified without the need for human involvement, but also much more impervious to spoofing. If one version of a block is corrupted, other participants still have correct copies of that block, preventing its use. Blockchains could be used to verify contractual terms — perhaps even execute them automatically in “smart contracts”, or verify access to resources.

2018 is only going to be the beginning of a years-long transformation of many industries as a result. With cybersecurity such a big story in 2017, the blockchain seems like it’s prime for a breakout year in 2018. Don’t be surprised if for whatever reason years down the road cryptocurrency collapses yet blockchain survives. It’s that game-changing.

The return of the ARM-powered laptop

We’ve gotten used to long battery life in our smartphones and tablets as manufacturers and software developers improve hardware and software. But one place it has not made it to is laptops, which still in most cases would require a recharge at some point in the day unless you are doing much more than surfing the web.

To that extent, Microsoft re-engineered Windows in 2017 to be compatible with ARM technology. This isn’t the same as it’s doomed-from-the-start Windows RT effort: code will run natively on these processors, allowing for widespread production of ARM-powered laptops, notably Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor.

While early benchmarking hasn’t been impressive, we’d note that those results were based on prototype chips. Qualcomm itself promises battery life of 20-25 hours and performance which should be similar to Intel processors when they finally release in 2018. Of course, these laptops are aimed at entry-level consumers, but “always on” functionality and LTE connectivity built in sure is an attractive feature set.

Of course, the first versions of any new product are always rough around the edges. It’s likely that’s going to be the case here. While it might not make it in time for 2018, the Snapdragon 845 processor looks even more impressive, as it is 25 percent more powerful and sports a 30 percent graphics performance boost over its predecessor.

Add to this artificial intelligence support, biometric, encryption, and mobile payments support, and it’s likely Snapdragon 845-based laptops will be even more attractive to a wider range of consumers.

Article Source: Digitaltrends.com