Considering how fast the world is changing, it seems impossible to make any solid tech predictions for 2017. But where’s the fun in that? Here’s what we think might happen in the next 12 months with the caveat that some, all, or absolutely none of it might end up being true.
While we can definitely rule out 5G in 2017 (the technology isn’t due until 2020), next year should be all about the number ‘8’. The iPhone 8 and the Samsung Galaxy 8, Star Wars Episode 8, Fast and Furious 8, and 8th generation Intel Core processors (built using a new 10nm process).
More mixed functionality
In 2017, we should expect the popularity of 2 in 1 devices to rise, especially as we ditch our older laptops and desktops for new Windows 10 machines. In fact, 2 in 1 form factors capable of transforming from laptop to tablet (to tent and stand) will ultimately become the norm.
This multi-functionality will extend into the alternate digital realities in 2017 too. After virtual and augmented reality comes merged or mixed reality. HoloLens, Magic Leap and Project Alloy could bring VR and AR together in 2017, either displaying real objects (like your hands) in a virtual environment or layering digital information on a real-world view.
Autonomous vehicles will continue to be a focus in 2017, from self-flying Amazon Prime Air drones to driverless car technologies. Perhaps next year will mark the first year that automated systems in cars gain mainstream access, either through advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or automated ride-sharing fleets.
Such autonomy will be possible thanks to improvements in processing power, which in turn will boost the capabilities of artificial intelligence. In 2017, Intel will introduce three Intel Nervana platform products (Lake Crest, Knights Crest and Knights Mill) built for speed and ease of use, enabling more data professionals to solve the world’s biggest challenges.
Home robots and AI
At a high-level, these challenges might include predicting the weather and tackling disease, finding patterns in vast swathes of unstructured data. Lower down the scale, greater computing power will improve AI systems in a new wave of home robots (like the Segway Robot or Asus Zenbo) and virtual assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
These user-friendly home AIs will change the way we interact with the web in 2017. Instead of tapping and swiping, we’ll get more comfortable speaking to the internet. Amazon’s Alexa can already control Philips Hue lights, read you the news headlines and hail you an Uber. It will only get smarter. Opening AI systems up to third-party developers will be crucial.
With any luck, technology in 2017 will move away from iteration and back to innovation. Alongside 4K, drones, IoT, streaming sticks, AI, VR and electric cars, here’s hoping there’s a company out there, developing a product or a service that will give us another iPhone moment; something that nobody saw coming. That’s when tech is at its most exciting.