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According to Hackernoon’s Saucy Tech Predictions for 2019, this would be the year that Facebook creates a bank, Twitter dies out, the first VR shopping store opens, and Elon Musk starts a marijuana company.
It’s fair to say that end-of-year technology trend predictions are often way off the mark. So, instead of focusing on technological developments that may – or may not – dominate in the near future, we’ve compiled a list of tech that hit the mainstream in 2019.
The Top 8 Tech Trends of 2019
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
As of 2019, there are over 26 billion IoT devices with 127 new devices connected every second. This encompasses everything from smart home technology (such as Amazon’s Dash Buttons and smart fridges) to smart cities (where devices are being used for traffic control, security, and surveillance) and smart agriculture (such as soil analysis and greenhouse automation systems).
Two of the biggest applications of IoT in 2019 are healthcare (including smartwatches that track heart health) and manufacturing. Discrete manufacturing is expected to account for 53% or the largest proportion of industrial IoT spending in 2019. More than 80% of industrial manufacturing companies are using or planning to use IoT devices such as smart machinery, which promises to drive efficiency, improve innovation, and deliver on better quality products.
2. (Semi-) Autonomous Vehicles
If you believe Steve Wozniak’s latest predictions, fully autonomous vehicles could still be a very long way off. The Apple co-founder doesn’t expect the technology to be ready for the real world within his lifetime, which shatters the dream of being able to kick back and watch a movie during a long car journey any time soon.
However, there is an increasing number of cars that provide certain aspects of self-driving, including lane-centering steering, adaptive cruise control, and hands-free steering. Cars.com has compiled a comprehensive list of 200 cars from 33 mainstream brands offering these features for 2019.
3. Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicle popularity has grown significantly in recent years, with the market currently dominated by Norway (where EVs accounted for almost 60% of all Norway’s car sales in March 2019) and China (where 1.1 million EVs were sold in 2018). In the U.S., sales rose by 81% between 2017 and 2018, and are expected to continue growing exponentially, particularly as batteries become increasingly affordable (dropping from $5,000 to $400 between 1995 and 2016).
As the world pushes for a more sustainable future, businesses are also investing in cleantech for their delivery systems. Amazon recently invested in 100,000 Rivian electric vans and DHL is launching a fleet of 63 electric vans in 2019 as part of its pledge to reduce logistics-related emissions to zero by 2050.
Even the tech experts of the world sometimes struggle to succinctly define what blockchain is and does. Hacker Noon describes it simply as “a data structure that holds transactional records while ensuring security, transparency, and decentralization.”
Creating cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, is one of the most common applications of blockchain technology today. As of September 2019, there were 3,571 bitcoin ATMs in the U.S. and the bitcoin market capitalization leaped from $1.48 billion in 2013 to $144.96 billion in Q3 of 2019.
Blockchain technology can also be used in insurance claims processing, smart contracts, encoding, and storing of healthcare records, supply chain visibility, and music ownership rights.
5. The Cloud
Cloud computing has been around for a while but its usage has boomed in recent years. Today, 90% of companies use some type of cloud service and, in 2019 alone, the U.S. is predicted to spend $124.6 billion. Worldwide expenditure is expected to hit $210 billion, an increase of 23.8% from 2018.
The way businesses use cloud computing is evolving. Server integration might soon be redundant as data is increasingly stored online. Earlier this year, Ross Winser, senior research director at Gartner, stated that “more than 20% of global organizations will have deployed serverless computing technologies by 2020, which is an increase from less than five percent today.”
Edge computing, sometimes referred to as “the new cloud,” is also growing in popularity. It streamlines cloud computing, reducing latency and bandwidth usage by bringing data storage closer to the source of the data. Spend on mobile edge computing is estimated to reach $1.3 billion in 2019.
6. Drone Delivery
Drone deliveries have really taken flight in 2019 with a number of companies, including Uber Eats, Amazon and Apple working to develop their drone technology. However, Wing (a Google subsidiary) and UPS became the first companies to gain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.
Wing, whose certification permits a pilot to fly multiple drones at once, completed its first drone delivery in October in Christiansburg, Virginia. The company has plans to provide a trial drone delivery service to the town’s 22,000 residents for items including Walgreens medicine, candy, and FedEx shipments.
UPS is the first company to be granted a Part 135 Standard certification, which allows it to fly as many drones as it wants. CVS Health is teaming up with UPS to test a service that delivers prescription medicines within ten minutes of an order being placed.
One of the most successful drone delivery companies is Zipline, which as of May 2019 was valued at $1.2 billion. Zipline provides urgent medicines including blood and vaccines in Rwanda and Ghana, covering an area that serves almost 22 million people.
A number of concerns still remain surrounding drone delivery including, security, the impact of weather, range, and noise pollution.
7. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Amazon defines AI as “the field of computer science dedicated to solving cognitive problems commonly associated with human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and pattern recognition.”
Today AI is a strategic priority for 83% of businesses and is expected to become a $190 billion industry by 2025.
Twitter is using machine learning, a subset of AI, to identify hate speech and terroristic language in tweets and filter out offensive content. Amazon’s Alexa uses speech recognition to perform a diverse range of commanded tasks, and HDFC Bank has created an AI chatbot called EVA, which collects knowledge from thousands of sources to provide answers in 0.4 seconds or less.
AI can’t yet think or empathize like a human being, but companies are working on boosting these capabilities by teaching AI systems to recognize and interpret facial expressions, monitor patient behavior, and respond to consumer reactions to marketing campaigns.
8. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR & AR)
It’s predicted that 14 million augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices will be sold in 2019.
VR completely immerses users in a three-dimensional computer-generated world, whereas AR adds digital features to a user’s existing live view (such as Snapchat lenses or Pokemon Go).
Video-gaming represents the largest share of the market with total sales revenue of VR gaming equipment expected to hit $15 billion by the end of the year. However, the tech does have its applications outside of the gaming world, such as helping prisoners to prepare for the transition back into society, trainee fighter pilots to safely test-drive aircraft, and consumers to experience a vacation before booking.
In the manufacturing world, AR has become increasingly beneficial, informing employees about machinery malfunctions and providing warnings of potentially dangerous circumstances. It can also be used for immersive training in design and assembly and to provide remote expert assistance.
Image Credit: Yuganov Konstantin / Shutterstock
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