It may seem strange to make predictions for 2021, when we are far from knowing how the rest of 2020 will unfold. No one predicted the events that changed the world this year, but one thing is clear: technology has been affected just as much as every other aspect of our lives.
Another thing is clear: the most important technological trends of today will play a big role in helping us to face and adapt to the many challenges that are presented to us. From the shift to working from home to new rules for how we meet and interact in public spaces, technological trends will be driving change management.
In many ways, Covid-19 will act as a catalyst for a whole host of changes that were already planned anyway, thanks to our increasingly connected and digital lives. Things are just going to move faster now, with necessity (long recognized as the mother of invention) as the driving force. And if, as some US presidents have predicted, Covid-19 ‘ magically disappears ‘, the changes it brought about will not be, because we will have learned to do a lot of things more efficiently and more effectively. safe.
Here is my overview of how the main tech trend that I identified in my latest book, “Tech Trends in Practice”, is likely to unfold over the next year. Some will play their part in helping us find “normal” (whatever that means), while others will allow us to better understand and navigate better in a changed reality.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is undoubtedly one of the biggest trends in technology today, and in 2021 it will become an even more valuable tool to help us interpret and understand the world around us. The volume of data we collect on healthcare, infection rates and the success of the measures we take to prevent the spread of infection will continue to increase. This means that machine learning algorithms will be better informed and increasingly sophisticated in the solutions they reveal to us.
From computer vision systems monitoring the ability of public places to analyze interactions uncovered by contact tracing initiatives, self-learning algorithms will spot connections and knowledge that would go unnoticed by manual human analysis. . They will help us forecast the demand for services from hospitals and other health care providers, and allow administrators to make better decisions about when and where to deploy resources.
For businesses, the challenge will be understanding the changing behavior of customers. Human activity will be done more online, whether it is shopping, dating, virtual work environments, meetings or recruiting. In 2021, we can expect the tools we use to analyze these changes in behavior to become more sophisticated and increasingly meet the budget and infrastructure demands of a growing number of organizations.
Robotics, drones and vehicle automation
As the volume of passengers using public transport fluctuates from week to week, depending on local conditions, motor vehicle initiatives will continue at an increasing rate. The efficiency of public transport networks will be a priority for service providers and municipal authorities, where reducing human labor costs will help to balance the uncertainty surrounding customer demand.
In recent years, we have seen the emergence of robots in the care and assisted living sectors, and these will become more and more important, especially when it comes to interacting with those members of society most vulnerable to infection, such as the elderly. Rather than entirely replacing the human interaction with caregivers that is so important to many, we can expect robotic devices to be used to provide new channels of communication, such as access to home help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as simply providing companionship at times when it may not be safe to send caregivers into homes. In addition, companies that end up with premises which, although empty,still require upkeep and maintenance, will look to robotics suppliers for services such as cleaning and security. This activity has already caused the stock prices of companies that supply robots to skyrocket.
The drones will be used to deliver life-saving medicines and, equipped with computer vision algorithms, they will be used to monitor attendance at public places to identify places where there is an increased risk of viral transmission.
The “As-A-Service” revolution “As-a-service
infrastructure – delivering the services we need to live and work through on-demand, cloud-based platforms – is key that has put the other tech trends we are talking about today within everyone’s reach. This is the reason why AI and robotics are a possibility for almost any business or organization, regardless of size or budget. Thanks to cloud computing offerings from companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and an ever-growing horde of start-ups and spin-offs, innovators in all fields can deploy cutting-edge technologies with minimal initial investment. in tools, equipment or specialized personnel.
As the current pandemic rages around the world, we have clearly seen that businesses that rely on the cloud to deliver scalable solutions on demand are thriving. Take Zoom, for example, which quickly became a household name thanks to the speed with which it was able to add servers and increase its coverage and quality of service. This is due to its “cloud” nature and its partnerships with its own service providers, which were able to quickly increase capacity to meet demand. In 2021 and beyond, this will become more and more important and more possibilities will open up for everyone.
5G and improved connectivity
A faster, more reliable internet doesn’t just mean that we can load web pages faster and spend less time waiting for videos to load on Youtube. Each successive advancement in mobile connectivity from 3G has opened up new use cases for the internet. 3G has made web browsing and data services useful on mobile devices, 4G has led to the growth of video and music streaming platforms with increasing bandwidths, and 5G, likewise, will open more doors in terms of what is possible.
5G means that services based on advanced technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality (see below), as well as cloud gaming platforms like Google’s Stadia or NVidia’s GeForce Now, become a viable proposition, anywhere and anytime. They also threaten to make cable and fiber optic networks redundant because they need us to be tied to a particular place.
In short, 5G and other advanced broadband networks are making all the other trends we’re talking about here accessible anywhere and anytime. Complex machine learning applications based on real-time access to big data sources can be realized in the field, thanks to automation. The Norwegian fishing operator Salmar, which uses a 5G network to automate the care and feeding of its fish, is a good example. Image recognition algorithms are used to detect which fish are eating too much or not enough, and automatically distribute the food and medicine needed to keep them healthy. Initiatives like this will become increasingly important in 2021, when companies look to further automate their workforce.
Extended Reality (XR) – Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR / MR).
These terms cover technology that uses glasses or helmets to project computer-generated images directly into the user’s field of vision. When superimposed on what the user sees in the real world, it is called AR. And when used to place the user in a fully computer generated environment, it is VR.
Over the next year, we can again expect these techniques, in conjunction with the other trends discussed here, to help address the challenges posed by the current global situation. This will mainly be to allow us to avoid potentially dangerous situations where there could be a risk of viral transmission. For example, medical examinations and diagnoses can increasingly be performed remotely. A solution available to opticians allows eye exams to be performed entirely in VR, as high-definition cameras provide a clear image of the patient’s eye. An VR tool then allows the customer to browse the range of eyewear on offer and see what they look like on their own face without having to leave their home.
We will also see an increase in the use of VR and AR tools in education. This will reduce the need for us to work in overcrowded classrooms – if not totally, at least in areas and at times where transmission rates are known to be high.
And as more and more data on the conditions and how viral transmission occurs becomes available, AR tools will be used to give real-time warnings as we move into areas where it is known. that the infection has spread. Even simple actions, like reminding us to wash our hands when we touch a doorknob in a public space or sounding an alert when a device detects that we have touched our face without washing our hands, could help save lives. lives and prevent us from spreading disease in the real environments we inhabit and travel through.
Source: tech trends 2021