Technology is shifting at such a pace that it’s hard for consumers to keep up with what’s next. This third industrial revolution has been underpinned by so many breakthrough technologies that have not only aided industry but consumers, too. As we rapidly move into the latter half of 2018, it’s a good time to consider the technologies that are increasingly having a profound effect on our lives this year and are likely to have even greater influence in the years to come.
There’s so much more to blockchain than Bitcoin. That’s the important message from the brains behind the decentralized technology that’s underpinned the growth of cryptocurrencies. Although blockchain remains the backbone of Bitcoin, its uses are being implemented in many other areas to transform our lives online.
Global spending on blockchain is expected to reach $2.1 billion by the end of this year, more than double the $945 million spent last year. That’s because blockchain is a business disruption – in a good way of course. Its decentralized nature and 100% transparency makes it ripe for use in the financial sector and is also being used for supply chain logistics to track and monitor the whereabouts of goods in transit. It’s also being used to redefine healthcare systems, with Atlanta-based Patientory in the process of developing a blockchain-based platform capable of securing health data for patients, as well as medical providers and institutions.
2018 has been a tremendous year already for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. We’re witnessing AR and VR headsets transforming the way people interact not only with video games but other environments. The property sector is set to be revolutionized by the ability for architects to design augmented or virtual environments for homebuilders to view before even thinking about foundations. Meanwhile, AR apps are already being used in healthcare to teach children about what to expect in the hospital if they need to be admitted as a patient. The Patient’s Virtual Guide is designed to minimize stress and anxiety among youngsters with medical needs.
Facial recognition is one of the newest technologies in 2018 to impress and prove that it has a place in everyday life. Although it has been used for recreational purposes, such as the ability to create avatars with a facial likeness in the world of video gaming, it has become an integral feature for more serious matters such as state-of-the-art passport machines at airport borders. It’s a technology with an even brighter future too. Public services such as the police departments are also utilizing advanced facial recognition technology to identify potential troublemakers in crowded areas.
Autonomous vehicles are here to stay. Some $80 billion has been invested by tech giants and automotive innovators in the underlying technology, so you can be sure that it won’t be going anywhere fast. Driverless vehicles could become a reality in the next couple of years. In the UK, the government is investing in driverless technology to help blaze a trail for autonomous vehicles in the early stages of the next decade. Of course, the label ‘autonomous vehicles’ doesn’t just cover automobiles. In Africa, the Zanzibar state university is working alongside the World Bank to develop autonomous drones capable of capturing detailed aerial imagery to report back on the extent of floods and other terrain damage. Meanwhile, in Canada, Cyberworks is devising a motion sensor module that can be fitted onto a battery-powered wheelchair, allowing it to navigate autonomously for the wheelchair user.
Zero-carbon natural gas
Natural gas accounts for almost a third of all electricity generated in the US and almost a quarter (22%) of the electricity generated on the entire planet. Although it is kinder to the wider environment than coal, it is still a significant source of carbon emissions into our atmosphere. That’s why a pilot power planet in Houston, Texas is seeking to redefine America’s petroleum and refining industry. It is trialling a technology that could make clean energy from natural gas a realistic proposition. Net Power believes it is possible to generate carbon-free energy from a fossil fuel by capturing the carbon released by burning natural gas, avoiding the emission of greenhouse gases in the process. If reports are to be believed, it’s thought this technology could become widespread within the next three-to-five years.
Cyber-hacking is showing no signs of letting up. In fact, the combined cost of global cybercrime is expected to hit $6 trillion by 2021. The majority of this is caused by cyber-hackers obtaining access to data within unencrypted files. But although encryption can guard data when it is stored or moved, the encrypted files still need to be used and edited. Researchers at IBM have developed a new way of securing data through lattice cryptography. Data is housed within complex mathematical structures, called lattices. Sensitive financial data or medical records are beginning to be placed in lattices that are virtually impregnable, with even the might of a quantum computer unable to crack these cryptographic codes.
The speed at which technology changes is not only affecting business, it’s affecting society too. But by embracing technological advancements and implementing them for better real-