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We are more than halfway through 2019, and several events have occurred within the past few years that will be shaping the tech landscape for the rest of this year and beyond. We have privacy scandals that affected some of the world’s biggest tech companies, and that forced them to make drastic changes to how they operate. Also of note is the well-publicized practical, real-life use cases of artificial intelligence, the final repeal of net neutrality, and the US government signing an order laying out its 5G strategy. While so many other critical events took place in 2018, and the first half of 2019, some events are more pivotal than others. Here are 8 tech trends to watch out for in 2019.
1. Increased Availability and Usage of Self-Driving Vehicles
Another tech trend to watch out for in 2019 is a rise in availability and usage of self-driving vehicles. A sign that shows that autonomous vehicles will be significant shortly is the number of big entrants into the industry: Google entered the sector through Waymo, Apple has its own arm dedicated to self-driving cars, and practically every major automaker has announced plans for autonomous vehicles.
The fact that self-vehicle vehicles will be prominent soon isn’t questionable. Instead, the real surprise to watch out for is how much of a big deal autonomous vehicles will be as early as 2019. General Motors already announced plans to mass-produce self-driving cars by 2019, and the A8 by Audi is already slated for release in Europe. It seems self-driving cars will be a thing sooner than many anticipate!
2. More Blockchain Adoption
When they talk blockchain, many people think cryptocurrency. Blockchain is much bigger than cryptocurrency, however.
Gartner projects that use blockchain will create $3.1 trillion in business value by 2030. Blockchain use has been slowly increasing in recent times. However, watch the movement in these areas.
- Brazil’s Ministry of Planning has piloted the use of blockchain technology for verifying the legitimacy of personal documents.
- Also, the Brazilian government has discussed its intention to write new laws on the Ethereum blockchain.
- Walmart has partnered with IBM on a food safety blockchain solution that required all suppliers of leafy green vegetables to upload their data to the blockchain by September 2019.
- IBM and Maersk formed a joint venture to apply blockchain to digitize supply chains.
- Facebook launched its own blockchain team.
The verdict is in: 2019 will be a really good year for blockchain adoption.
3. Increased Focus on Privacy
For a long time it has seemed that the cost of being on the cutting edge of technological developments and advances is to pay with our privacy. Not anymore. 2018 has marked a turning point that will kickstart a trend of increased focus on privacy starting in 2019.
In 2018, the GDPR became law. Despite all the frenzy that surrounded the GDPR becoming law, what has shaped the privacy landscape is that privacy scandal involving several tech giants in the past year or so.
- Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal as well as its controversial sharing of data with Chinese companies.
- Google’s shutting down of Google+ amidst the discovery of a privacy bug.
- Uber’s settlement with the FTC over data privacy.
All these privacy abuses, and realizations of how user data could be manipulated by megacorporations to achieve nefarious purposes, including influencing politics, has led to increased user awareness about the importance of privacy. Due to this, you can expect increased focus on privacy in the tech landscape in 2019.
4. A Rise in Edge Computing
Cloud computing is no longer a thing to watch out for. It is a reality. However, edge computing will be the thing to watch out for in 2019.
- Edge computing will allow for more data efficiency as we move nearer to an IoT-driven world.
- Edge computing allows data to be processed closer to where the data is created instead of sending it to data centers or clouds (which can take longer).
- When data is processed closer to the edge of a network, organizations can analyze the data at a much faster, real-time pace.
- With edge computing, data does not have to be sent to the datacenter as soon as it is created — this significantly reduces data traveling over the network. As a result making it much faster.
- That said, contrary to what you might have read elsewhere: edge computing won’t be displacing cloud computing. Instead, they will both complement each other.
5. Increased Mainstream Adoption of 3D Printing
Research from Sculpteo’s 4th edition of The State of 3D Printing shows that 70% of companies have increased their investments in 3D printing in 2018. It also shows that 36% of companies are using metal materials for 3D printing in 2018 compared to just 28% in 2017.
- Adoption of 3D printing is increasing and would be further driven by evolutions in 3D metal printing.
- While there has been a lot of noise about 3D printing in the past, a significant issue has been that of mainstream adoption — which is understandable when you consider the vast cost of acquiring a 3D printer and the fact that most 3D printers can only print plastic and necessary materials.
- However, what if 3D printers that can print metals are commonplace? That’s an entirely different issue.
- Brands like HP, GE, and Nike already working on introducing printers that can print metals in 2019.
You can expect increased mainstream adoption of 3D printing.
6. Artificial Intelligence Will be a Bigger Deal
AI will be a much bigger deal than before in 2019, and the two charts below should easily explain why:
Fighting crime, ensuring transportation efficiency, improving education, processing information, and managing finances are just a few of the things that AI can do. In 2019, we can expect more focused attention on AI.
7. Companies Will Increasingly Use Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
If you’re just hearing the term Robotic Process Automation, you should pay careful attention because it will be on our radar a lot in 2019.
RPA is the use of software to automate business processes: this can be basic tasks like replying to emails, triggering responses, or something more complex like capturing and interpreting applications for processing transactions. In essence, any repetitive task that people can do can be automated — which is 45% of our activities according to McKinsey.
As companies try to save costs and increase efficiency, they will look to trimming and automating repetitive tasks, so you can expect more companies to use RPA in 2019.
8. A Bigger Year for Augmented Reality
We can expect to see big moves from major tech brands in 2019 that will make augmented reality even more mainstream.
- Apple’s Tim Cook once went on record to state that Apple believes that augmented reality will change the way we use technology forever, so it’s no surprise that Apple is likely to release its own standalone augmented reality headset for use by 2019.
- The rumored AR headset will have its own display, and its own OS referred to internally as ROS.
- Microsoft will also be launching the second version of its Hololens AR headset in early 2019.
While both augmented reality and virtual reality have been billed as high trends to watch out for, things have been moving much faster in the augmented reality landscape. In 2019, you can expect some big moves for augmented reality by major brands.
With over 10 years of experience as a ghostwriter in the tech industry — writing about privacy, telecommunications, blockchain, and AI — Thomas has slowly and gradually established himself as the go-to writer for tech content.