Top 10 Technology Trends for 2017

Here’s a look at some of the top trending technologies for 2017 with a few unashamed sci-fi references to go with them.

It is an interesting time, with many of the highlighted technologies having huge crossover potential, leading to headlines such as Unity poaches Uber’s machine learning head to tackle AI in AR/VR and Google’s AI Can Now Translate Between Languages It Wasn’t Taught to Translate Between.

These technologies are already in our everyday lives, but their prevalence, and perhaps our awareness of them, is only in its early stages.

Without further ado, here is a summary of Gartner’s Top 10 Technology Trends for 2017 and our take on them:

1. Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Machine Learning

The Characteristics of Smart Machines
The Characteristics of Smart Machines, Source: Gartner October 2016

The subject of countless sci-fi novels and films, AI is finally on the map. By employing deep learning techniques, computers are being given the ability to learn rather than simply respond to a pre-programmed set of instructions, opening up the potential for prediction and autonomous insights.

2. Intelligent Apps

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Will Have Obvious and Inconspicuous Uses
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Will Have Obvious and Inconspicuous Uses; Source: Gartner October 2016

This is the area where most consumers will see machine learning in action. By learning our behaviours, our phones can become our digital personal assistant in a way that feels personalised and responsive – if you haven’t see the sci-fi film Her, where a man falls in love with his new operating system, then you need to.

3. Intelligent Things

Apps will also be connected to physical objects, pulling information from everything from security systems to your kettle. The more data that goes in, the better the data that comes out. We’ve all heard the buzzwords, ‘Smart’, ‘Internet of Things’, ‘IoT’, and we’re already using watches as health sensors, getting data from our fridges, coffee makers, electricity monitors, and the availability of cheap networkable components such as Arduino and  Raspberry Pi this is also a booming hobbyist as well as commercial area.

This article on the 50 most intelligent things is a good read, as is the story that went viral of local data specialist that took 11 hours to boil his IoT kettle.

4. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Forecast for Sales of Head-Mounted Displays, 2015-2020
Forecast for Sales of Head-Mounted Displays, 2015-2020; Source: Gartner October 2016

Augmented Reality is out there, you only have to look around to see Pokemon hunters in the street, and the possibilities are immense. By overlaying information on real world objects our knowledge of it is augmented quickly and effectively, we can see through walls, or at least an augmentation of the plumbing and electrics that lie within them, and have encyclopaedic knowledge of what is around us. Mixed reality is essentially a new reality. VR is booming too, basic headsets are now affordable consumer items that can be fuelled by your mobile phone – though it feels like the uses and experiences are still in the early phase compared to its potential, commercial and artistic exploration are happening fast.

Now a Kickstarter for the Zapbox is aiming to do to Microsoft HoloLens what Google Cardboard did to VR by putting it in a price tag that’s about the same as a cheap night out. William Gibson was already there in the ’90’s with his sci-fi novel Virtual Light, it looks like the world is beginning to catch up

 5. Digital Twins

Digital-Twin Models Are Digital-Entity Models for Assets
Digital-Twin Models Are Digital-Entity Models for Assets; Source: Gartner October 2016

A digital twin can be a construct based on real world data, another sci-fi favourite theme that we see in Jonny Mnemonic amongst others, where a whole personality is copied inside a machine. In this case, an example of a digital double can be a 3D scanned ‘body double’, or a collection of personal data that provides a complete snapshot history of a person’s location, health, interests, diet, and any other data it is fed.

Digital doubles are also virtual piece of equipment, such as a CAD modelled machine part, that can be tested to destruction or used with sensor fed data to provide a very accurate representation of the state of a real world object. According to Gartner “Within three to five years, hundreds of millions of things will be represented by digital twin”.

6. Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers

Key Elements of Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers
Key Elements of Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers; Source: Gartner October 2016

In 2009, with the currency of Bitcoin, the first blockchain was launched. It is a system that relies upon distributed records that join together to create an overall database through a peer-to-peer network, and therefore does not need a central administration. Due to its cryptographic and distributed nature it is very secure. Each block contains its own timestamp, links to the next record, and records cannot be changed retrospectively.

The technology provides a level of security for data that will allow huge shared databases with sensitive information to thrive. All the ins and outs of it you could ever need are here

 7. Conversational Systems

Conversational Systems Include New User Experience Design Elements
Conversational Systems Include New User Experience Design Elements; Source: Gartner October 2016

From Deckard in Bladerunner to the classic Hal 9000 moment in 2001: A space Odyssey, sci-fi heroes always talk to their computers. Also known as dialog systems or conversational agents, this is all about doing away with our keyboard and mouse and using our microphone as a vocal interface. Tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon are jumping on the potential.

We’re already starting to ‘ask Siri’, sometimes with somewhat mixed results, but mobiles are putting this technology in the palm of our hand, literally, making our smart devices smarter still.

8. Mesh App and Service Architecture

The Shift to a Central Role for Event Processing in Digital Business
The Shift to a Central Role for Event Processing in Digital Business; Source: Gartner October 2016

Remember the days of having to use extra services to sync your bookmarks or documents and the overall nightmare of having different data on different machines? The mesh app aims to make those a long distant memory by combining your data to give you a seamless single application across all your devices, and to make the data accessible so it can be used across mobile, web, and IOT devices.

9. Digital Technology Platforms

Abstract System Model for Conversational Artificial Intelligence Platform
Abstract System Model for Conversational Artificial Intelligence Platform; Source: Gartner October 2016

Anybody who has worked for or run a tech based business will know that there are endless complications to juggle. In their report, Gartner have identified the top five enablers for tech companies to not only survive but become champions of the future. They are:

  • Information systems
  • Customer experience
  • Analytics and intelligence
  • Internet of Things
  • Business ecosystems

10. Adaptive Security Architecture

User and Entity Behaviour Analytics
User and Entity Behaviour Analytics; Source: Gartner October 2016

What has been dubbed the IOT DOS attack in October 2016 very effectively demonstrated many of these devices are now connected to the internet, and just how many use default passwords or have little or no security at all. A Denial Of Service attack is basically when so much traffic is directed at a server it becomes swamped and goes down, and while IoT devices generally aren’t powerful computers, one thing they are made to do is stream lots of data.

It is predicted that by 2020 approximately 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet worldwide, with those kind of numbers you can see why IoT security is both a major concern and a new frontier…

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