by: James Murphy
A look ahead to the technologies will be ushering us into The Future….
Based on the fast-paced development of technology witnessed over the last decade, 2018 should prove to be a fascinating year. Technologies that have been labeled “sci-fi” up until now are finally hitting galloping speed, with the likes of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and electric, autonomous vehicles now surging into the mainstream. In fact, PlayStation hit the one million units sold mark on it’s PSVR headset at the back end of 2017, showing that there certainly is robust appetite for this new type of immersive gaming.
With the previous years of economic uncertainty now behind us and plenty of skepticism abounding due to Brexit, the threat of war with North Korea, and the often erratic President Trump still in play, the media seems to be getting bored with a political atmosphere that is beyond satire. Instead here in Britain where I hail from, stories about the death of diesel cars, bans on plastic, and a focus on the digitization of services at the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are dominating headlines. This near-constant attention has served to inform and incentivize people and organizations into setting technologically creative solutions into play.
Our global, online world is changing daily, and massively so. Instead of the convenient, must have internet connections in our homes, we’re now becoming way more reliant on web services, web based communication, IoT (Internet of Things: The the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data), and on work that is done with little human interaction. We’re going to become even more connected in 2018, whether we like it or not.
So, what’s going to be big? What kind of new gadgets are we going to get our hands on this year? And how are our lives going to be changed even further? Let’s take a look…
Trying desperately to shift the attention off pretty much everything that’s going wrong for the United States government at the moment, Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Britain, used the first weeks of 2018 to roll out her vision for the future in regards to product packaging and its effect on the environment. With solid dates for the phasing out of certain non-recyclable plastics and a continued levy on disposable shopping bags, something is finally being done about the bevy of plastics damaging the environment. Iceland, as well, has announced the end of plastic packaging for their own-branded products, but what is it that they plan on using to replace the ubiquitous plastic container?
For Iceland, it’s wood. Thin, balsa-liked packaging that is waterproof, flexible to shape and completely recyclable will soon be used to protect and transport food, cutting out plastics that might otherwise end up in landfills, the ocean, or in an incinerator creating greenhouse gases. The exciting part of this story is that there are some pretty cool eco products out there that could be huge this year.
One of these such products is made from compressed leaves. Using natural materials that mimic the texture and strength properties of plastic, designers from the trailblazing company Leaf Republic have cooked up a huge range of disposable and long-term products that are completely made from pressed leaves. Not only do they look great, but they can be left anywhere without causing damage to the environment. Let’s hope for more of this in 2018!
It’s likely that you’re probably reading this article on a phone or tablet using 4G connectivity. 5G has already already successfully attained download speeds of an incredible 2.8 Gigabytes per second, and with its rollout on the horizon we could see some new phone models and tablets that are 5G capable emerging this year.
As well as massively improving internet connectivity speeds, 5G is another step towards a fully connected society, with improved relay masts twinned with this more powerful wireless transmission allowing for true 4K video-on-the-go. The implications are huge, with everything from work productivity to gaming away from home given a momentous speed boost.
Both Microsoft and Sony now have their next-gen-and-a-half consoles out, with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro now allowing for 4K, HDR gaming on compatible TVs. But it’s not just the typical console titles that are drawing attention.
Virtual Reality may have been the technology of 2017, but Augmented Reality is set to be 2018’s next big thing. We’ve already had games like Pokemon Go that really made AR work on smartphone, but things will certainly take a turn as better devices with gyroscopes make AR more accessible. We’ve also seen Microsoft demoing an AR headset dubbed the HoloLens, with everything from architects to gamers witnessing fully-projected digital objects, tools and characters existing in the environment around them.
Ultra-competitive online gaming, especially eSports, could finally reach the mainstream this year too. Plenty of time and money is already devoted to things like professional Call of Duty leagues, but it’s the marriage of online poker to eSports that is fashioning itself truly compelling. With, globally, more people expected to gamble online this year, and with the current figure of 33% of all gambling in the UK taking place online set to be closer to 40%, poker is more likely becoming more aligned with an eSports model. After all, online poker has exploded massively with over forty million people now playing regularly throughout the world, likely thanks to the average trip to a casino becoming more expensive and less accessible. Interest in things like televised poker and live casino gaming have also become very popular over the last couple of years. It would make sense to learn the rules of poker now so you can enjoy any forthcoming advancements, which could be here sooner rather than later if a big name in eSports like ESPN or BBC3 starts broadcasting online tournaments.
We’ve also got the likelihood of some movement from Donald Trump on the future of online gambling in the U.S. now that he’s managed to get a few ‘key policies’ out of the way. 2018 could be the year where online gambling takes the step out of the grey area, creating a whole new generation of online poker players.
Electric and driverless cars
Electric cars have been in the news for almost half a decade and already exist all over the world, but this year will be the big leap from a new service with severe limits to something which becomes way more accessible. New developments in battery technology and faster recharging rates have made electric cars a viable mode of transportation for the masses, with, for example, the Nissan Leaf taking 4 hours to charge fully from empty. There are even apps like Zap-Map that show there are now loads of electric charging points all over the UK and Ireland.
The “big one” however is driverless cars finally hitting UK roads. There’s already been trials already had trials of driverless lorries on UK motorways in 2017, but it’s personal cars that let you have a nap on the commute to work that have got tech-savvy consumers excited. Although legislatively and technically we’re still some way off, 2018 is likely to be the year where a much better picture of how driverless cars will be rolled out is painted, and it becomes clear whether we can finally have Minority Report-style roads crisscrossing the nation.