Technology creeps into our lives as a gradual trickle, infiltrating unnoticed until we wake up one morning and everything has changed. When was the last time you heard the peck, peck, peck of a typewriter? Or saw an outdoor television antenna in someone’s backyard? Or paid all your bills by writing and mailing checks? Only in hindsight is it possible to understand the vast changes wrought upon our lives by the onslaught of new technologies. Stay tuned. More changes are on the way. Of the many emerging technologies to watch, we spotlight three to keep an eye on in 2018.
1. Smarter Transportation
First there were seat belts. Then airbags. By 2018, many car models already incorporate advanced safety features like collision avoidance and lane detection. Where to from here? Think ACES: Autonomous, Connected, Shared, Electric. ACES is less about any one element than it is a wave of change sweeping the mainstream concept of transportation. Every major automotive manufacturer is looking beyond the internal combustion engine and building increasingly sophisticated software into their cars.
But cars require infrastructure of equal sophistication. A Mercedes needs its autobahn, right? This interdependence may explain why so many cities are rethinking the transportation grid to accommodate automated vehicles and new technologies for managing traffic and physical infrastructure. We expect to hear more about smart transportation in the coming year as local governments and manufacturers follow the technological momentum. Yes, profound changes are occurring across all aspects of transportation as we know it.
Blockchain has the potential to reduce transactional costs of doing business by removing intermediaries (e.g. lawyers and banks) and allowing individuals to complete transactions in a secure and transparent way. While the focus on blockchain has primarily been on the financial services sector, this technology has broad implications for government and business [PDF]. Blockchain technology has not yet become a discernible part of daily life for most of us. However, it is gaining momentum rapidly and is likely to become an integral feature of our existence in short order. In 2018, you’re likely to hear more about blockchain technology as it continues to transform our economic infrastructure.
3. Implantable Devices
You may have heard press reports in the last year about a Wisconsin company, Three Square Market, that offered its employees the option to have a chip implanted into their hands. Safety concerns immediately arose, but the CEO predicted that this technology will eventually be used as our passports, or to pay for public transportation or other purchases. We expect use of this technology to grow in 2018. And why not? We already place microchips in our pets for identification purposes. In fact, we have been enjoying the benefits of implantable medical devices for a generation, with pacemakers being the most obvious example. Implants that communicate with other devices and with our medical providers will become increasingly common.
We anticipate you will become more familiar with these three technology trends in 2018, whether through news coverage or perhaps through direct personal experience. We can expect these technologies to become fully integrated into our daily lives much sooner than anyone would have predicted even a year ago.