The year 2017 is about to close, and we have seen a lot of innovation that have been fruitful and useful to our lives. Some are still taking their precious time before maturing, and 2018 could give them their moment.
With what we saw this year, here are our tech predictions for 2018 which we hope will materialize.
Non-humanoid AI robots
Future robots (or at least those in our home) will not be the same as the ones in the movie iRobot, but rather more like in Her. If you haven’t watched these films, I suggest you do because both have a different take on how artificial intelligence will take form.
When our Chief Content Officer Michael Josh went to Singapore, he sat and talked to the guys of Olly for their device called Olly Robot. It’s a Google Home-like device but with emotions. Imagine a home companion that’s more conversational and proactive, which will then learn more about your routines and be ahead of everything you have to do.
It might be scary, but since the device looks far from a human clone like Sophia, it’s not intimidating. That’s how we see the future of households, and it’ll also make us less lazy by doing the physical actions by ourselves. Linking (or bonding) with our virtual assistants will give us faster access to whatever information we need.
Bezel-less display on budget phones
With the iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8 leading the pack, the bezel-less trend on smartphones is here to stay. Unlike other features which tend to be gimmicky, having more screen real estate on mobile devices is preferred by many. Borderless (or near-borderless) displays have even found their way to midrange phones for as low as US$ 300! Manufacturers have 12 months to bring this trend to budget devices, and we’re on board this. The shift to the 18:9 aspect ratio is also part of this change, and developers will have to keep up and experiment more with this taller ratio.
More AI-powered phones are coming our way!
The launch of the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro brought Huawei’s own Kirin 970 processor to consumers with artificial intelligence and a neural engine. Some phones may claim to have AI, but unless they have a dedicated processing unit to handle its computations, they’ll not reach their peak. AI will be able to make our phones even smarter; however, manufacturers and developers will take advantage of this differently. This will benefit consumers even more.
Smart home devices working locally
Google Home with Google Assistant and Amazon Echo with Alexa are fantastic smart home speakers you can already buy, but they need the internet to be able to execute actions. Even Apple’s Siri, despite its access to the iPhone’s processing chip, needs a lot of data from the internet to respond to our queries. Hopefully starting next year, we’ll have digital assistants equipped to perform deep learning tasks locally. These AI tasks like natural language processing and facial recognition will be done instantly and more efficiently. A few privacy issues could also be addressed.
Augmented reality will go full mainstream
Augmented reality is nothing new, even on mobile phones. But when Apple formally announced their full support for the platform, we knew it could go mainstream. Niantic Labs even announced their upcoming AR game which will bring the wizarding world of Harry Potter to our real-world pockets. We don’t have the specifics about the game yet, but we could see it doing well. One doesn’t need additional hardware (remember Google’s Project Tango?) to make AR work on mobile, which is a major leap.
Asia further embracing digital payments
Here in Asia, we like to transact in cash. We do have our plastic cards to go cash-less, but digital payments done through our mobile phones are even better. With everything going mobile, transactions should also be mobile and secure, too. Digital payments from companies like Samsung, Google, and Apple have already found their way to Asia, but next year, we’d see them in more countries in the continent. Even smaller players in select countries are starting to make waves before big players arrive.
Wearable implants and fitness trackers on every watch
Smartwatches didn’t become as popular as we had expected, but what if these devices were built into our bodies? Wearables aren’t mainly for notifications and fashion; they may be better applied in medicine. The goal is to have real-time diagnostics of our health which can be easily downloaded and read by doctors for more accurate reading. Preventive healthcare is always the best, so this an important application of available technology. For now, we have smart fitness trackers which automatically record our physical activities, and soon, implants will be able to look at internal readings.
Wireless charging becoming a thing
Wireless charging isn’t exactly new, but it’ll become more popular since Apple introduced it with the new iPhones. While Android fans will be quick to react that this has been around for years, wireless chargers are slower compared to traditional USB charging, which is why power Android users prefer using quicker wired chargers instead. Fast wireless chargers have started hitting the market, and with Apple using the wireless charging standard Qi, you’ll be able to lend your iPhone’s wireless charger to Android phones and vice-versa.
Bendable display on mobile computers
Coming from edge-to-edge displays, we’re now going to bendable screens. We’ve seen bending panels in concept during tech shows, but no actual product has come to the market. The closest we got are fixed curved displays on Samsung phones, but Lenovo is planning on releasing a laptop with a bending display. It’s like the future of notebooks but with the bezel-less screens we love so much.