For IT professionals, it is a case of learning, unlearning and relearning to keep on top of all the adjustments and changes in the world of tech. There are so many, too many to include, and it shows just how far we have come in recent years. Some innovations have been bubbling under the radar for a while, and are coming to the forefront in time for a new work-from-anywhere philosophy. Passwordless authentication, Medical Robotics and 5G are just some of these, so let’s have a look at what’s going to be on offer in 2022 and beyond.
Augmented Reality in online shopping
We’ve probably all done some sort of online shopping out of hours, looking at a product picture and deciding if it is the right choice. But for a truly immersive experience, augmented reality is the latest tool for personalized shopping, without the need for clunky 3D headsets. Forbes recently posted about a company in Bangalore that has produced an app for smartphones that will allow potential customers to take a product and ‘import’ it into their reality. Buying a new car? You can get into the cockpit and take a look at the dashboard layout, and even use the virtual buttons to open the sunroof! Thinking about a new dining room table? Use the AR app and set it up in the location you think it will look best. The possibilities are endless and can be easily achieved from the comfort of your sofa.
Low Code / No Code software
One of the biggest problems facing IT decision makers is the shortage of software developers. Up pops Low and No Code software, bringing with it a scaled-down version of software development. With Low Code, there is a certain level of technical expertise needed, as some areas require code to be written. A software dev can produce an app much faster and with less coding. WordPress and Squarespace are examples of Low Code websites.
No Code, on the other hand, requires an understanding of the tools and sequences to produce an application. There is no coding to be done, but a ‘citizen developer’ needs to be taught how to use the tools. A ‘citizen developer’ is an employee of a company, trained to use No Code software, and is separate from the IT department. They are business technologists. Examples of No Code apps are GoodGigs, a social impact job site, and an app for ordering food at Princeton University Stadium, with tabs for menu, seat location and checkout.
Perversely, for passwords to be effective, they must be secret, but to be used, they must be shared. With access to more and more sensitive information, passwords need to be more robust, yet they are frequently treated as an annoyance. People hate changing them, and trying to find a ‘difficult-to-crack’ sequence is time consuming. However, there are many password managers out there who, for a small subscription, will store all your passwords safely, and create new ones for you if you so desire. Off the top of my head, I can think of three companies that provide those services very well, Keeper, Roboform and Nordpass. But password security is moving even further along. Seamless authentication will be driven by AI and sensor technology, with iris and voice recognition joining fingerprint and face recognition. I can’t wait.
I’m having a bit of trouble getting my head around this – I understand the concept, but can’t really see the application. However there are several major fashion houses that are trusting their names on it.
Virtual fashion is clothing made of pixels, instead of material. So it really doesn’t exist except in the virtual world. People can buy and wear pixelated clothing, which looks quite remarkable on videos, and there is no waste, no sustainability problems.
Take, for example, a social influencer, who wishes to look unique on a vlog. He or she purchases an outfit from one of the companies that make virtual clothing, with full made-to-measure abilities, and ‘wears’ the outfit on a video shoot. Viewers will see the influencer in the outfit, even though it’s not really there. There are even fashion shows online, streaming virtual clothing worn by 3D models, among them London, Stockholm and Paris fashion weeks.
Maybe there is a place for virtual fashion, for people with wild and crazy ideas about how they want to look on avatars, in gaming environments and virtual worlds.
Sustainable Energy Solutions
In June 2021, a small event took place in southwest Poland that may very well change transportation for the future. The world’s first hydrogen powered train, the Coradia Ilint, was displayed and trialed, with a possible top speed of 130 kms and a trip distance of 1,000 kms. Although hydrogen fuel cells have been around for some time, they were usually associated with the extremely wealthy in California, using hydrogen powered cars.
Hydrogen trains, on the other hand, are mass transit vehicles, and with zero emissions (maybe just a little water). They can be used on railways without electrical power lines, which, in Poland, is 37% of all lines. Germany is worse, 39%.
Best of all, Poland is the 5th top producer of hydrogen in the world, and the largest in the EU.
Solar and wind power are already proving their worth, and with luck, hydrogen will too.
Robots have been around in the medical field since the 80’s, starting off with assisting surgeons in the operating room. As each new generation came along, robotic assistance improved by freeing up the surgeon’s hands and helping to perform precision tasks, either by manipulation of joints or aligning complex anatomical procedures.
Use of robots in the healthcare system is advantageous, as basically the idea is to take routine or sometimes difficult jobs away from humans, who could be better utilized in other areas. Delivery of specimens, medications and meals can be performed by autonomous robots, and during these pandemic times, they are used for sanitation of rooms and equipment.
There are even social robots, who work with patients by showing them how to do certain motor activities and exercises, while providing some form of interaction, a vital job taking into account the worldwide shortage of qualified nurses.
Robots help us go further than before, in a safer way.
Traditional decision-making is very linear, sometimes taking days, weeks or even months to produce an outcome, well after the original data has been collated and studied. It has become less effective, and given the astonishing amount of data available, unsustainable. This is where Decision Intelligence kicks in, teamed with Artificial intelligence, Business intelligence, intelligent apps and NLQs (natural language queries). Decisions don’t have to be based solely on past performance, and it is now possible to ask how a decision will affect the company in the future. It optimizes every department, sort of like a holistic overview of the whole enterprise. As it is based on real-time data and not simply historical, it provides relevant and current information, so if doing something in Finance disaffects Sales, DI will chime in with an appropriate response. It doesn’t remove human decision-making, it augments it.
Up to a hundred times faster than 4G LTE, meaning a movie download of seconds instead of minutes, 5G is the latest iteration of connectivity in mobile devices. It seems as though every 10 years or so, we get a new generation to play with. 5G has evolved from 4G and 4G LTE, and while speed and low latency are two of it’s finer points, there are several perceived drawbacks, including the simple problem of upgrading your phone. It’s expensive, and 5G is not guaranteed throughout a country at the moment. So you might be paying for 5G, but using 4G.
On the plus side, 5G will increase the usage of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge Computing. Autonomous vehicles, healthcare, retail and industrial will all benefit from the additional speed that 5G offers, as will smart devices.
But it is crucially important that we understand the pitfalls of 5G, and the associated problems such as increased battery usage, decreased broadcast distance, and cyber security issues.
I think I’ll hold on for a while.
I have left off a bunch of trends to save space and readers’ eyes. There is just so much going on in the world of tech, and it is difficult to categorize them. 3D house printing, Edge computing with IoT, Nanotechnology, NFTs and Crypto, the list is almost endless. But one thing is certain, the world will keep moving forward, hopefully to the benefit of all. One caveat though, with all the robotic automation happening, what will people look like in 200 years?