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10 Up-and-coming Technologies to Watch

By Devin Logan on 2017-01-18

Up-and-coming technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity are improving in access and ability. What will the future bring?

Otto, a company founded by Google engineers, conducted its first autonomous shipment of goods in October of 2016. The truck, owned by Otto, started in Fort Collins, Colorado. From there, it drove approximately 120 miles to deliver a trailer filled with Budweiser beer to Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is the first time a self-driving vehicle has successfully conducted a commercial shipment. Both companies (Otto and Anheuser-Busch) hope this milestone marks the start of a safer, more efficient era of transportation. Self-driving vehicles are on their way to reduce human-caused fatalities and mistakes; in the future, developers hope this technology will keep truck drivers safer and more well-rested while still maintaining earnings.
Artificial intelligence enhances vehicles and televisions, and will do so to a greater extent in the future. Today, machine learning is the cornerstone: the machine “learns” how to act and react to a wide range of stimuli, instead of being programmed with specific actions and reactions. Is self-awareness the next horizon in artificial intelligence? It certainly seems so. As machines learn to make their own decisions, they will become even more valuable to humans. Voice and robot assistants (for example, Siri) have already been released, but these kinds of technologies will advance in complexity and capability in the future as responses grow from canned to intelligent.
As the amount of electronic information grows at a rapid pace, cybersecurity needs to grow at an equally rapid pace. Microsoft released facial recognition abilities as part of Windows Hello, a component of Windows 10. Near infrared technology allows the images captured by the Windows Hello camera to stay consistent, independent of lighting conditions. This technology also does not work with photos, preventing access by anyone but the actual, physical owner. As facial recognition and iris recognition (along with other recognition technologies, like fingerprint recognition) overtake passwords as the preferred lock, devices will become more secure.
Connected to concepts of cybersecurity is the technology Blockchain, which is a process that forms the foundation of virtual currencies, most notably Bitcoin. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology, which is, basically, a shared data record. This is a secure network that updates in real time. Blockchain, specifically, stores data in “blocks,” which reside in “chains.” This structure ensures that data is original and unchanged.
Though virtual reality is primarily a curiosity at this point in time, watch it make big strides in the coming years. It is also getting cheaper and more accessible to a general audience. Virtual reality could transform caring for the elderly, and it could also improve face-to-face conversations across hundreds of miles, along many other uses. The military uses virtual reality for training simulations, as well as the treatment of PTSD. Educators use virtual reality to help their students learn everything from astronomy to medicine; virtual reality can also help educators teach students with a variety of learning styles.
In the next few years, expect to see awesome advancements in the field of human-enhancement robotics. Hyundai is currently working on cutting-edge human exoskeleton, meant to help paraplegics walk. Right now, the company has released three varieties of this exoskeleton, each designed for different needs. The Hyundai Universal Medical Assist supports both arms and legs, increasing mobility. The suit is able to support up to 88 pounds of the user’s weight. The Hyundai Medical Exoskeleton is designed for those recovering from lower spinal cord injuries. The Hyundai Waist Exoskeleton primarily supports the legs, hips, and back. This suit helps users complete tasks with a high degree of repetition (lifting, bending).
Other technologies to watch in the upcoming years: fintech, predictive and data analytics, wearable technologies, augmented reality, and batteries.

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