The world of technology is an exciting one. You have innovations coming out periodically. Some build on the things that have made your life a lot better, while others tend to disrupt the way things have been done.
What are the three most significant technologies that will have the biggest transformative impact in 2020?
1. The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an exciting area. IoT has gone beyond just sensors. It now includes things that you can actually use everyday. You get connected to smoke alarms, vacuum cleaners, thermostats, air conditioners, and even coffee makers.
The number of things that will be connected around the world is expected to breach the 30-billion mark. That will continue to rise to more than 75 billion devices by 2025.
But more than just being connected to the Internet, IoT devices now work together. These technologies and sensors can communicate with each other and make life even easier for you.
For instance, your phone will know where you are and will be able to guess that you are getting home in a few minutes. Your phone will be able to tell your thermostat to turn up the heat or turn on the air conditioner depending on the weather outside.
A few minutes before arriving, your phone will open the garage door and turn on the lights. All this without you having to do anything.
What’s more, once you have closed the garage door, it will send a signal for your smart lock to unlock the door and disarm the home security system.
The future of IoT
If you think that the Internet of Things working together is great now, wait until you get to see how it works with other technology, such as artificial intelligence.
If you have Waze, you will get a glimpse of how this works. With Waze, you get directions on how to get from point A to point B. Ho-hum, that’s something you can do with a map.
But what makes Waze better is that it’s connected to many other phones that its users use. It can get information from these phones and see where traffic is heavy if there are road accidents, and other slowdowns.
It can then reroute you so that you can avoid getting stuck in a gridlock. Can your paper maps do that?
2. Artificial Intelligence and Voice
When voice assistants first came out, people got frustrated when Siri couldn’t figure out what they were saying and gave them wrong replies.
The promise back then was for users to continue using it, and it will learn. But the thing with technologies that don’t work as they should is that people will stop using them if they can’t derive any value. The novelty wears off fast enough.
Fast forward to 2019, and we now have people using Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to answer questions. People find it more convenient to simply ask rather than tap on keyboards. “How far is the nearest Italian restaurant?” To get the answer, simply say the wake phrase and then ask your question.
In 2019, an estimated 35 percent of American homes had at least one smart speaker. By 2025, that number is expected to increase to 75 percent.
And why not? Unlike its first iterations, today’s smart speakers can actually get your questions answered correctly. It’s said that Google Home gives you the correct directions 94 percent of the time, while Apple HomePod slightly lags at 88 percent.
What’s more, 2020 is poised to be a good year for artificial intelligence and voice. For one, AI is going to be used in a lot of new devices. Plus, AI is getting smarter.
Another positive development is Amazon’s announcement that they have reduced the requirements to run their Alexa technology. Manufacturers now only need 1 megabyte of RAM and an ARM Cortex-M processor to run Alexa, down from 100MB and a premium Cortex A-Class Processor.
The change will make Alexa more accessible. More developers will be able to include it in their devices. Google also has Google Assistant 2.0, with its dialed down requirements for data storage.
What’s more, you can probably expect smart speakers to do double duty as a security system. Right now, you have home security systems that rely on sensors to protect your home. With smart speakers always listening in, it can detect not just your voice commands, but also sound events such as breaking glass or water dripping.
Another expected development is how your smart speaker might become more proactive –rather than waiting for you to say something. Soon, they might be able to tell you that you’ve left the kitchen lights on when you’re getting ready for bed.
That or ask if you’d want to play soothing tunes while reading. Some of these technologies are available now. For instance, your Apple Watch can call for help if it detects that you’ve fallen. Some security systems can also alert you if you haven’t armed your alarm systems, and you’re already out the door.
In the United States, we can expect a wide-scale rollout of 5G technology in 2020. Because of affordable chipsets, you can take advantage of the technology too. If your current phone doesn’t have 5G compatibility, then you can easily buy one this year without having to rob a bank to afford it.
Why is this important? Because 5G offers a whole lot of bandwidth and enables a world of content that has not been possible before. For instance, how would you like to play 4K UHD videos on your phone?
Tech firms can also use this for industrial IoT. Plus, 5G networks will allow big data to be networked.
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These three trends in technology are going to change the way you live and work in 2020. They are dependent on each other as well. Voice technologies will suck if not for AI. AI becomes better the more it learns. And 5G becomes the platform for network that will make it easier for data to be transmitted.
Photo courtesy of Deepak Pal.