Much like The Force, technology surrounds us, penetrates us and binds together our galaxy,
which is why it’s so hard to identify which technologies might have the most significant impact in this year 2017. What we can count on in 2017 is that a myriad of innovations will arrive. Some will alter our lives with the tectonic force of an earthquake.
Others will sneak in quietly and change things in gentle, almost unnoticeable ways. The goal here is to focus on the technologies that will undergo the most significant change and have the biggest impact on our lives.
Virtual Reality (VR) saw significant growth, improvement, and visibility in 2016. It did not, however, transform society. VR will remain among the most important developing technologies in the coming years, but 2017 will mark the beginning of its transition from a curiosity into a tangible tool for enhancing otherwise mundane activities.
Virtual reality is seen to be changing the game for a variety of industries including health care, agriculture, manufacturing, business, and other sectors. Doctors are using VR to enhance traditional therapies; architects use VR to design stronger buildings, and travel agencies are using it to simplify vacation planning.
Though it won’t be an explosive uptake, VR will continue to pop-up in surprising non-obvious places, since businesses are showing far more interest than consumers in experimenting with the technology.
DATA AND PRIVACY
Last year, one of the big questions that everyone had was how many personal data were flying around in servers and how secured they were. In light of the recent discoveries of alleged Russians hacking US elections and the 1 billion Yahoo! account data being hijacked, this year all eyes will be on big corporations that are storing our personal data and the safety measures they will be taking.
For years, fingerprint technology was reserved for business-class systems. Fingerprint readers on our smartphones have been the first step in broad consumerization of biometric security. The introduction of facial recognition on computers and Touch ID on MacBook Pros is a sign that the password is loosening its death grip on our personal privacy. 2017 may be biometric security’s breakout year.
We’ll use our fingers, faces, eyes, heartbeats and even activity patterns to unlock technology and protect our finances and privacy. By 2018, anyone who doesn’t use a body part to unlock technology will be viewed as a reckless oddball. Encryption will also continue its spread throughout mobile and communication technology.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)
Few technologies have been as interesting to watch as Artificial Intelligence. 2016 was the year that regular people got familiar with machine learning and consumers had multiple digital voice assistants to choose from. There will be more AI hardware competition in 2017.
Microsoft will probably introduce a Cortana device and maybe (just maybe) Apple will find a new kitchen-friendly hardware home for Siri.
AI, though, will also be the most-under the-hood technology with the biggest impact on virtually everything we do. Increasingly, you will find it powering software and services of all kinds. And AI will just keep getting smarter.
SMARTER SELF-DRIVEN CARS
Self-driving cars are increasingly becoming a feature of everyday life. In 2017, we’ll see more autonomous people-mover style solutions and a cascade of deregulation across the United States of America.
By the end of the year, most states will be autonomous-vehicle-friendly. 2017 may also be the year we finally see Elon Musk’s near-supersonic travel dream become real or at least tested in the real world when Hyperloop One runs its first, full test of the tube-based transportation system (assuming the company doesn’t implode before then).
Amazon is certainly leading in this front with other massive online/ delivery based commences trailing just a little behind. We already have seen them testing out drones for delivery. In 2017, we are predicting drones will be making actual delivery at least on a limited scale basis on a controlled environment. This is believed to radicalize the last-mile delivery of products. Can you imagine how many businesses will be affected by this particular initiative?
BEGINNING OF BETTER & BIGGER BATTERIES
2016 proved that if you’re not very careful about how you manufacture batteries and the technology surrounding them, things may go very wrong. A quick recall on Samsung’s Note 7 battery defect. In 2017, there’ll be a renewed focus on increasing the safety and longevity of lithium-ion technology. We may even see a trial run of lithium metal battery technology.
BIG DATA ANALYTICS
2016 was a landmark year for big data with more organizations storing, processing, and extracting value from data of all forms and sizes. In 2017, systems that support large volumes of both structured and unstructured data will continue to rise.
The market will demand platforms that help data custodians govern and secure big data while empowering end-users to analyze that data. These systems will mature to operate well inside of enterprise IT systems and standards. Big Data is expected to become fast and approachable in 2017.
MORPHING WINGS IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY
The aircraft industry has been experiencing tremendous transformation in its aerodynamic efficiency resulting in the development of new wing architecture that consists of a system of tiny, strong, lightweight modules. The shape of the wing can be changed uniformly along its length using two small motors, which apply a twisting pressure to each wingtip.
These wings are covered in “skins” of overlapping strips of flexible material resembling fish scales or bird feathers. These strips move across each other as the wings morph, providing a smooth outer surface, the researchers explained. Wind-tunnel tests of these wings showed that they at least matched the aerodynamic properties of conventional wings, at about one-tenth the weight. Initial tests using remotely piloted aircraft made with these wings have shown great promise.