2017 in Tech: The Year of Foreshadowing Big Things to Come | Technology

2017 would be the 12 months that developments within the tech world actually had been overshadowed by different world occasions: deepening divisions within the United States and the looming risk of warfare with North Korea; quite a few high-profile Hollywood gamers, TV personalities, politicians, journalists, business executives and others concerned in sexual misconduct scandals; terrorist assaults in Europe and elsewhere; and the announcement of one more royal marriage ceremony within the United Kingdom, to call only a few.

With all of that occurring, it might be straightforward to miss Apple’s introduction of one other iPhone or Nintendo’s comeback with successful video game console. The reality is that 2017 could possibly be what sports activities groups typically name “a rebuilding year.”

It’s not that there was a scarcity of thrilling new tech — it is simply that nothing was a real game-changer or disrupter. Technology has develop into such an integral a part of the our lives that it’s straightforward to neglect that at present’s smartphones are exponentially extra highly effective than the computer systems that helped get people to the moon nearly 50 years in the past — and 50-inch flat panel TV in the lounge wasn’t all the time the norm.

No, 2017 wasn’t a 12 months of innovation in smartphones, breakthroughs in streaming media, and even the debut of larger, higher-resolution or thinner TVs.

What 2017 might develop into remembered for is its foreshadowing of the applied sciences that may change our lives in years to come.

Internet of Things: More Promise Than Delivery

If there’s a buzzword that did not buzz fairly as a lot because the digiterati predicted, it’s the “Internet of Things,” which has been on the cusp of being the subsequent huge factor for method too a few years. In reality, the time period truly was coined by Kevin Ashton of Procter & Gamble, and later MIT’s Auto-ID Center, method again in 1999.

In 2017, it remained principally hype.

“IoT seems stuck, with an industry trying to leverage next year’s gear through last year’s supply chain,” mentioned Jim Purtilo, affiliate professor within the pc science division on the
University of Maryland.

“There are solely simply so some ways to promote to customers, obtain media
to them, or flip their home lights on and off,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

“Where’s the innovation that turns this expertise on its ear and
convinces the broad market we will not stay with out it?” Purtilo puzzled.

On the opposite hand, “certain kinds of IoT — mainly industrial deployments and applications — mostly left the hype behind and began looking commercially sustainable,” mentioned Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“There’s still more than a little hype around the IoT category, especially when it comes to consumer- and home-focused products and services,” he advised TechNewsWorld. Yet the scale and want for related skilled companies makes industrial-focused options way more engaging to distributors.

That is why 2017 wasn’t the 12 months of IoT, and why it’s unlikely that subsequent 12 months will likely be both.

“Until now, IoT vendors have mostly focused on building parts of a solution,” famous Rob Enderle, principal analyst on the Enderle Group.

“As we move into 2018, vendors like Amazon and Samsung on consumer, and Dell and Cisco on enterprise, will be shifting to providing complete end-to-end solutions,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

The potential of IoT is there — as are the rewards for these who lastly convey it to the lots.

“Whenever it emerges, it will be the holy grail of data mining for companies, since however much value they skim by convincing us to carry around mobile trackers and share all our documents, the value pales in comparison to what companies will reap when they can track our moment-to-moment activity in our homes,” Purtilo identified.

Machine Learning: Head of the Class

Several excessive profile figures — together with Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, amongst others — expressed fears that synthetic intelligence and machine studying may take management of our very creations. The concern is that sci-fi movies corresponding to The Terminator may develop into self-fulfilling prophecies.

AI and machine studying did not sign the top of mankind in 2017, however they might have superior the top of privateness.

“Artificial intelligence is woven into an increasing array of online services, and the companies using it are not asking for opt-in permission or, indeed, permission at all,” mentioned Steve Blum, principal analyst at Tellus Venture Associates.

“Web services, mobile apps and point-of-sale and similar devices are recognizing who we are, or at least who we might be, and proactively tailoring responses, often without us even asking,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

“If you’re not paying particular attention, it seems like simple convenience; you don’t have to work as hard to get what you want, even though you often end up with what an AI system thinks you should want,” Blum added. However, “if you are paying attention, it can be very spooky.”

At the identical time, machine studying might make it simpler to tie our gadgets collectively. In different phrases, for IoT to work, we want higher machine studying.

“AI was the serious growth industry in the last year,” steered the University of Maryland’s Purtilo.

It constructed on huge information’s successes, which set the stage and gave individuals extra to work with for coaching machines in a single or one other software. Also, higher instruments have dropped the entry barrier to innovation considerably.

“In the near term, this also means we’ll see a lot of less-than-stellar applications of ML techniques as more people try it without knowing how to do it right,” Purtilo added, “but in the long run that is healthy; it means market forces have something to work out.”

One space the place it’s being labored out is in autonomous autos or self-driving vehicles. 2017 wasn’t the 12 months that the vehicles did the driving, however machine studying performed different roles.

“The sharing economy meets machine learning and AI in 2017, where AI has replaced the dispatcher,” famous Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research.

“In transportation, efficiency is everything, and it’s not a surprise that we’re seeing machine learning and artificial intelligence starting to make a noticeable impact on operations,” he advised TechNewsWorld. “Lyft and Uber are using machine studying to
schedule pickups in order that drivers are by no means ready for his or her subsequent fare.”

AR/VR: More Buzz Than Reality

If there was a real “buzzword” that gained steam in 2017, it might have been “augmented reality,” which melds precise actuality with digital actuality. However, the promise of what it may provide largely has remained extra hype than supply.

“AR/VR is notable for what didn’t happen, which was to find those breakout apps that the area needs to attract the broader market,” mentioned Purtilo.

“The industry sees steady expansion in use of AR technology in manufacturing, just as VR sees steady demand among technologists looking for novel visualization tools — but neither is yet a game changer,” he added. “This year, we just saw more of the same — maybe with signs of impatience that the big promises haven’t yet been fulfilled.”

Personal Home Assistant: Listen Up

2017 wasn’t the 12 months of robotic butlers or maids, however digital assistants made vital headway. When
Saturday Night Live and
South Park provide satirical takes on
a product development, it’s actually an indication that it has gone mainstream. South Park‘s episode reportedly even affected precise models in viewers’ dwelling rooms.

“Personal home assistants — Alexa from Amazon and Google Home — were among the biggest breakout hits for new technology in 2017,” mentioned Netpop’s Crandall.

“Alexa’s simple to use voice-interface and ever-increasing set of ‘skills’ have opened up a new market for smart home appliances that were often too demanding for consumers to configure and manage,” he added.

“Voice recognition technology reached the point where it can replace manual data and command entry on a routine basis,” famous Tellus’ Blum.

“However, the more useful it becomes, the more it is tied to massive artificial intelligence platforms, which gives Amazon, Google and Apple a huge advantage,” he added. “Those three companies are positioning themselves to be the front end for all of our interactions with the digital realm.”

Cybersecurity: The Hacks Kept Coming

The previous 12 months did not see a significant hack main the nightly news — there was no large cyberattack on a government company just like the 2015 breach of the Office of Personnel Management.

Also, cyberattacks have develop into so widespread that even perhaps when a significant one happens, it is not as newsworthy.

“The interesting trend of 2017 was ransomware,” noticed futurist Michael Rogers.

“Total damages went from (US)$325 million in 2015 to $5 billion in 2017,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

“A startup with that sort of progress could be on the quilt of Fortune, and we might be ready for the IPO,” Rogers steered.

“On the plus side, thousands of people learned how to use bitcoin, thanks to the educational how-to-pay-ransom video embedded in most versions of ransomware,” Rogers added.

“The trend here is that regardless of good intentions and heightened awareness, the world is not keeping up with cybersecurity,” he warned.

Perhaps subsequent 12 months.

Peter Suciu has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2012. His areas of focus embrace cybersecurity, cell phones, shows, streaming media, pay TV and autonomous autos. He has written and edited for quite a few publications and web sites, together with Newsweek, Wired and
Email Peter.

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