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Top Technology Trends of 2020 - AI, ML, 5G, AR, VR, XR, Blockchain and More

Taking a deeper insight, we should expect wider adoption of exponential technologies and a growing pool of service organizations providing more tailored applications for specialized tasks customized for specific requirements, as we traverse through the year 2020.

Top Technology Trends of 2020 - AI, ML, 5G, AR, VR, XR, Blockchain and More

Mavens and stalwarts say, this is perhaps the best time to live in a world where technology is experiencing accelerating growth like never seen before. Businesses and individuals who do not keep pace with some of the major technology trends, run the risk of being left behind in the quest of achieving the best in the industry. Understanding the key trends, will enable people and businesses to prepare for, as well as grab the growth opportunities at the right time. If you are a regular reader of my columns, all my predictions on trends for 2019 proved correct. Considering it as a responsibility to investigate the future of technology, I have identified the most impactful trends that everyone should be made aware of, to plan better, as we move through the last quarter of the current year. In this post, I share with you a few of the impending trends for 2020.

For more technology insights follow me @Asamanyakm

Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AI-a-a-S)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most powerful exponential technologies of modern times that has touched almost every aspect of life and work. From healthcare and life sciences to banking, brewery, customer services and more, most enterprises have started to explore how they can use AI and Machine Learning (ML) to provide the user with a better experience as well as to streamline their business processes. This practice will continue in 2020, and while people will increasingly get accustomed to working alongside Artificial Intelligent systems, designing and deploying our own AI or ML-based systems will remain an expensive affair for most business enterprises. Also, getting the resources with the right skillset to build customized AI or ML system will remain a tough proposition for many. For reasons such as cost affordability, resource availability and more, much of the AI and ML applications will continue to be done through providers of infrastructure platforms as-a-service, which empower us to simply input our own data and pay for the algorithms or compute resources as we use them.

Currently, the platforms provided by Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM and others, tend to be somewhat broad in scope, with often expensive, custom-engineering required to apply them to the specific tasks an organization may require. During 2020, we will see wider adoption and a growing pool of providers that are likely to start offering more tailored applications and services for specific or specialized tasks. This will imply, most companies will have no excuses left not to embrace AI and ML.

5G Data Connectivity Networks

The 5th generation of mobile internet connectivity will provide us super-fast download and upload speeds with more stable connections. While 5G mobile data networks became available for the first time in 2019, they were mostly still expensive and limited to functioning in confined areas or major cities. 2020 is likely to be the year when 5G really reaches places, with more affordable data plans as well as greatly enhanced coverage, signifying that everyone can leverage improved data networks.

High velocity data networks will give us the ability to stream movies and music at higher quality when we are on the move. The greatly increased speeds imply that mobile networks will become more usable in comparison with the wired networks running in our homes and businesses. Companies must consider the business consequences of having super-fast and stable internet access anywhere. The increased bandwidth will enable machines, robots, and autonomous vehicles to collect as well as transfer more data than ever, leading to advances in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart machinery.

Autonomous Vehicles

While we are yet to reach the stage where we can expect to habitually travel in, or even witness, autonomous vehicles on the road in 2020, the technology will indisputably continue to generate a significant amount of excitement.

Tesla plans to complete creation and testing of its autonomous vehicle by this year, according to Elon Musk. The number of vehicles capable of operating with less autonomy, such as automated braking and lane-changing, will become an increasingly common sight. Additionally, other in-car accessory systems not directly connected to driving, such as security and entertainment functions, will become increasingly automated as well as dependent on data capture and analytics. Google's sister-company Waymo has just completed a trial of autonomous taxis in California, where it transported more than 6200 people in the first month. Top automobile companies such as BMW and Mercedes are also performing rounds of testing of their autonomous car models.

Autonomous vehicles are not restricted to cars alone, trucking and shipping are becoming more autonomous, and breakthroughs in this space are likely to continue to be in the limelight throughout 2020. With the maturing of autonomous driving technology, we will also increasingly hear about the measures that will be taken by regulators, legislators, and authorities to safeguard the safety of users. Ongoing laws, existing infrastructure, and social attitudes are likely to undergo updates before self-driving becomes a practical reality for us.

Improved Healthcare through Predictive Medicine

Technology is currently propelling healthcare at an unparalleled rate. Our ability to capture data from wearable devices such as smartwatches will continue to give us the ability to increasingly predict and treat health problems in people even before they experience any symptoms. 

Talking about treatment of diseases, we will see much more customized approaches catering to personal patient needs. This is also referred to as precision medicine which allows medical practitioners to more precisely prescribe medicines and apply treatments. Predictive and personalized medical care is based on data-driven understanding of how effective the treatment approaches are likely to be for a specific patient.

Although not a nascent idea, thanks to recent breakthroughs in technology, especially in the fields of genomics and AI, it is giving us a broader understanding of how different human bodies are better or worse equipped to combat specific diseases, as well as how they are likely to respond to different types of medication or treatment methodologies. Throughout 2020 we will get to experience new applications of predictive healthcare and the introduction of more personalized as well as effective treatments to ensure better outcomes for individual patients.

Advanced Uses of Computer Vision

As you may be aware of, Computer Vision encompasses systems that can identify items, objects, people, or places from visual images, those collected by a camera or sensor. It’s this technology that enables your smartphone camera to recognize which part of the image it's capturing is a face, an object is a table or chair, and powers technology such as Google Image Search and more.

As we move through 2020, we are going to see computer vision equipped tools and technology rolled out for innumerable variety of purposes. It’s fundamental to the way autonomous cars will visualize and navigate their way around danger. Production lines will employ computer vision cameras to watch for defective products or equipment failures, and security cameras will be able to alert us to anything out of the ordinary, without requiring full-time monitoring.

Computer vision is also enabling face recognition, which we will hear a lot about in 2020. We have already seen how useful the technology is in controlling access to our smartphones in the case of Apple's FaceID and how Dubai airport uses it to provide a smoother customer journey. However, as the use cases will grow in 2020, we will also have more debates about limiting the use of this technology because of its potential to invade privacy.

Growth of Extended Reality

Extended Reality (XR) is a catch-all term that encapsulates several new and emerging technologies being used to create more immersive digital experiences. To be more specific, it comprises of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Virtual reality (VR) provides a completely engaging enthralling experience where you enter a computer-generated world using headsets that intermingles with the real world. Augmented reality (AR) connects digital objects to the real world via smartphone screens or displays. Mixed reality (MR) is an extension of AR, that means users can interact with digital objects placed in the real world (consider playing an acoustic guitar that you have placed in your room via an AR headset).

These technologies have been around for a few years now but have largely been confined to the world of entertainment. In the upcoming year we should expect all of that to change, as businesses continue to explore the plethora of exciting possibilities offered by both current forms of XR. Virtual and augmented reality will become increasingly prevalent for training, gaming and simulation, as well as offering new ways of customer interaction.

Rise of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public, digital ledger that is used to record transactions across several computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks. It is essentially used to record transactions but secured due to its encrypted and decentralized nature. Continued investment by players like FedEx, IBM, Walmart and Mastercard during 2019 is likely to show real-world results, and if they manage to prove its case, could quickly lead to an increase in adoption by smaller companies as well. If things go as per plans for major technologists, 2020 will certainly witness the launch of many blockchain-based crypto like Facebook's own, which is already being talked about in the circle.

While we await with subtle enthusiasm to experience the power of niche and emerging technologies, we are certainly going to witness many new players embracing a few like AI-a-a-S and extended reality. Watch out for my columns as I unravel more of trending technologies which are still clandestine.

For more technology insights follow me @Asamanyakm

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