In technology terms, 2017 has been an epic year. Drones, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence have all come on in leaps and bounds. As have the PCs on our desks, which are now more powerful and versatile than ever before.
But what does the future hold? What’s going to be BIG in 2018 and how did our predictions for 2017 stack up?
We spoke last year about how drones would see a lot of innovation in 2017, and we’ve already seen Intel’s Shooting Star project use 300 perfectly synchronized drones to put fireworks to shame. Elsewhere, during the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, multicopters were used to fly above cricket pitches to remotely assess the playing conditions; while passenger drones (like the eHang 284 and Lilium Jet) are close to bringing the dream of flying cars to reality.
Artificial intelligence is waking up
We’ve also seen more artificial intelligence come to the fore and products like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo are proving that there is a market for cheap, accessible personal assistants driven by cloud-based AI. But we’re just getting started in this exciting world, and in 2018 Intel’s neuromorphic AI chip (codenamed “Loihi”) will start to appear in research institutions.
Loihi is different. It will learn, and enable computers to get better with experience, helping to increase efficiency in the areas they are deployed. Crucially, it will allow “machines to be autonomous,” says Intel, “and to adapt in real time instead of waiting for the next update from the cloud.”
It seems likely that 2018 will also push home PCs to go faster and deliver more. We’re going to see new Intel processors arrive with less power consumption — to help save money, energy and the planet. We’re also seeing new advances in how we store data. PC hard drives have been moving to speedy SSDs for a while now, but Intel’s Optane™ technology is faster than even the best standard SSD. Next year will see more of these devices appear, blurring the line between computer memory and data storage.
Intel-powered autonomous driving
One of the areas that will likely see a lot of investment and progress in 2018 is self-driving cars. Yes, this has been the case for some years now. But governments across the world are finally passing legislation that makes the testing of autonomous cars and trucks (like the recently announced Tesla Semi) easier. Yet even before your car can drive you home, the tech that companies like Intel are developing will also help to make cars safer and more efficient, potentially saving lives and reducing congestion.
It also seems logical that we’ll continue to see even more of our devices get connected to the internet. With the boon in digital assistants in homes, cars and phones it seems likely that people will want to control more of their lives remotely. So 2018 is likely to see a merging of AI and IoT to give us a way to control more of our lives just by speaking a few words.
Best of all, this tech is more inclusive, helping people with disabilities interact with technology seamlessly. Expect to see home robots make more of an impact in 2018, as devices such as the Kuri Robot, Jibo and the ASUS Zenbo (pictured top) finally become available.
The Internet of many, many Things
Convergence then, might have a big part to play in 2018. The maturation of IoT, artificial intelligence and digital assistants will allow for more of our lives to be monitored and controlled. How these technologies operate together in the next 12 months may well be significant. It’s particularly exciting to think how the many sensors in everyday devices might be combined with AI to help make your commute fast and relaxing, for example.
By learning about the world through IoT-gathered data, AI could bring great efficiency to our world and prevent small problems before they become big ones.
How about we meet back here in a year to see how things went?