What does the future hold? For me at least, it’s full of bacon: wrapping my scallops and shrimp, sitting next to my eggs, scattered atop my Waldorf salads. But 2020 is also full of technological advances, and continuing the innovations that have made the world race forward faster than you can say “not too crispy, please.” Three fields hold the most promise for the tech world in the year ahead: the Internet of Things (IoT); artificial intelligence (especially AI’s most visible face, voice assistants); and 5G connections and devices.
Make no mistake: like bacon flavoring a steak, it’s the combination of these trends that really unlocks their power. It’s a refrain we’ve heard time and again from major tech makers like Samsung and Qualcomm and LG and Huawei: 5G + AI + IoT. But what does this mashup of buzzwordy acronyms mean exactly? Meaningful change. Here’s my take on what we’ll see in 2020.
The Internet of Things (IoT): Better stuff
IoT means a lot more than just adding networking connections to ordinary devices like security cameras, vacuum cleaners, and door locks. Getting things online will connect as many as 100 billion devices to the network by 2025, which will lead to meaningful products for consumers for sure — but it’s hardly realizing the dream of IoT. Video doorbells, connected sprinkler systems, smart toaster ovens … the Internet can let us access them remotely and do more with them. They’re fundamentally better than they used to be. But the innovation hardly stops there.
Step two for IoT devices is networking them. Consider the ideal vision of the networked smarthome: Your connected smoke alarm sniffs the air and detects not just the lingering aroma of bacon but a hint of fire. Rather than just blaring a senseless klaxon to startle whoever’s within earshot, it turns off the oven and furnace, shuts power to the room, and calls the fire department. Networking devices together unlocks their power. I don’t just need a push notification on my phone that the smoke alarm is going off; I want a system that can fix the problem or make my life easier in other ways. For this to work, the right combination of products is key – and for the record, this is how Google is now selling products.
But that’s stuff you can do today. 2020 will bring the first big advancements in what I call phase three of the IoT transformation: using AI to process the unfathomably large amounts of data streaming out of these networked devices, and leveraging it in meaningful ways.
For many people, the face of AI is actually a voice: Alexa, or the Google Assistant.
Consider the progress we’ve made from the days of paper maps, which never really folded effectively to fit back in the glove box anyway. Moving maps to our phones and GPS devices is better for lots of reasons. But it’s only by networking multiple phones together that the real power of mapping is unlocked. Using millions of cellphones, Waze and other mapping apps can identify speed traps and accidents, reroute us around slow spots, and generally make maps work better.
Better maps are great, but smarter highways are better still. When city planners and even the federal government start to apply data analysis to all of that information, amazing things can happen. We can predict crashes by combining crowdsourced crash data from Waze with state data sets. Or better understand the connection between speed limits and crash outcomes, thanks to anonymized data from GPS-enabled devices. Expect to see more of these big-picture, IoT-driven insights in 2020…….Read More>>