Over the course of 2014, the world saw a slew of technological advancements. Connected devices, 3D printing, data analytics, and cloud computing were just a few that made leaps forward in the past year.
These technologies will certainly progress even further in 2015, but new technology and innovations will also hit the market and potentially cause major changes in society, from how we drive our cars to how we do our jobs.
Here are some tech trends that have the potential to bring about big changes in 2015 and beyond:
The Internet of Things (IoT): If you didn’t quite get the memo last year, we’ll iterate it again in 2015 — the IoT may very well prove to be one of the most defining technology trends of the next 10 years. This next wave of Internet connectivity systems will not only network our computers and devices, but virtually everything else on the planet, creating a world made of smart, connected products.
Currently, the IoT has been seen in home appliances, like an A/C system you can control from your mobile device, and in smart cities, but it will break even more new ground next year. IoT principles will be at the center of future transportation initiatives, such as automated city traffic grids for self-driving cars.
BI Intelligence recently published a report estimating the IoT will grow so significantly by 2019 it will add $1.7 trillion to the global economy through hardware, software, installation costs, management services, and value added IoT efficiencies.
Higher emphasis on online security: High-profile security breaches had companies reeling in 2014. Hackers stole 56 million credit card numbers and 53 million email addresses from Home Depot between April and September, and stole up to 40 million credit and debit cards from Target along with the personal information of 110 million individuals.
But it was the Sony Pictures hack that really had everyone talking about what needs to be done in regards to cyber security. Companies are scrambling to not only regain public trust, but up the ante on data protection.
Some future security improvements on the consumer end include having more forms of biometric authentication and credit cards that use quantum physics. And as organizations work to improve their own security in 2015 through more sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools, we will see a rise in companies and products offering these enhanced features, as well as a call for more cyber-security experts in the field.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): Despite warnings from Hollywood blockbusters (think iRobot and Terminator) and Stephen Hawking on the potential dangers of AI, researchers have surged ahead with plans to push the technology forward.
In 2014, we saw the computer program Euguene Groostman “beat” the Turning test, which measures a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior that is equal to, or indistinguishable from, a human’s. And AI is only going to become more advanced in 2015, especially since it is the busiest area of study in emerging technology and has captured the eye of many tech giants.
IBM, for example, has had its AI Watson—a former Jeopardy champ—working in medical research for several years. Watson is able to mine decades of data in a fraction of the time human technicians can, and IBM hopes to use its natural language processing and hypothesis generator in even more industries in 2015.
And Demis Hassabis of Google is working to “solve intelligence” in 2015 with DeepMind. Hassabis and the company are working on mimicking how human neurons work in silicon and code. If they figure it out, there could be many interesting changes in robotic software in the future allowing them to make new connections based on learning.
Drone use will spike: Drones will continue to dominate news headlines thanks to their potential use in multiple industries and the regulation issues that surround them. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration began to allow some companies to use drones for commercial purposes in 2014, and there will most likely be even more leeway in 2015 with the Washington Post reporting there are 167 pending applications for commercial drone projects, and “hundreds more” expected in 2015.
Robots among us: The robotics industry will also see huge innovation in 2015. This year, robots like Baxter proved that humans and androids can work side-by-side with one another.
Amazon is one of the companies leading the way in more human-robot interaction in the work place. It uses a combination of the fenced-off Robo-Stow robot arms, which pick things off shelves, and mobile Kiva robots that move things on the factory floor and can deliver them to workers. In 2015, more and more manufacturers will look into how smarter, safer robots can assist in areas like commercial appliance and auto manufacturing.
Robots aren’t just for the factory floor. Personal robots like Jibo and the GiraffPlus system may also become more and more popular in the consumer market in the upcoming year, but it’s anticipated that 2015 will really be peppered with smaller robotic breakthroughs. They’ll be a focus on manipulation and locomotion, with companies like iRobot and researchers at MIT increasingly looking into teaching robots how to move and work as well as humans.