Artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning and the Internet of Things: 2016 has stood out as a year marked by technological development and significant advances in several fields, not least that of driver-less cars with connectivity. Against this backdrop, a clear trend is appearing: the growing influence of robotic technology in daily life.
Here’s our review of 2017’s most promising innovations.
1. IoT, the Internet of Things
Star of the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), which took place in Las Vegas between 5 to 8 January 2017, the Internet of Things was thrust into the spotlight in 2016 and is set to bring increasing intelligent connectivity to our daily lives. Smart devices, equipped with bar codes, RFID chips, beacons or sensors, are taking the lead and enabling companies to gain greater visibility over their transactions, staff and assets.
In 2016, information and technology research and advisory company Gartner estimated there were 6.4 billion connected devices globally, an increase of 30% on 2015. By 2020, this figure is likely to have grown to 20.8 billion.
2. The explosion of Big Data
Network multiplication brings with it a proliferation of data generation, whose analysis, use and governance have become a burning issue. According to estimates by IDC, an international provider of market intelligence for information technology, by 2020, every connected person will generate 1.7MB of new data per second.
The concept of ‘perishable data’ has lost validity. In 2017, companies will have the capability to use data before it becomes obsolete. Devices connected via the Internet of Things will rapidly speed up data decoding and processing for actionable insight.
3. The ramp up of artificial intelligence and automatization
Artificial intelligence was the talking point of technology in 2016. Encompassing areas such as machine learning, robotic intelligence, neural networks and cognitive computing, it’s now in daily use in numerous forms including facial and voice recognition, endowing velocity, variety and volume.
In 2017, artificial intelligence will take on an increasing number of repetitive and automatable tasks, beginning with wider use of ‘chatbots’ with the capacity to give coherent, easily formulated responses. IDC pinpoints robotics driven by artificial intelligence as one of the six innovation accelerators destined to play a major role in the digitalization of society and the opening up of new income streams. Indeed, Amazon and DHL are already making use of warehouse handling robots.
4. Location technology, the Holy Grail of customer satisfaction
Location technology took great strides across 2016, to the marked benefit of customer satisfaction in the hotel, health and manufacturing sectors. Customers can now receive on their smartphones geo-targeted offers such as promotions or reductions, depending on their physical location.
In 2017, RFID chips will enable yet more accurate tracking of customers and enhancement of their buying experiences.
5. Virtual reality makes way for augmented reality
One of the biggest innovations of 2016, virtual reality hit the news big time. From Facebook to Sony, Samsung to Google to Microsoft, the big brands grasped this new technology to offer an outstanding user experience, through the merging of virtual and real imagery.
In 2017, these virtual devices will acquire an awareness of their environment and give users a real sense of immersion of the digital environment from within their own sitting rooms. The potential of augmented reality for business will be harnessed too in the coming months. Some companies, among them BMQ and Boeing, are already employing it to increase their retention and productivity rates, or to provide training to their workforces across worldwide subsidiaries.