One of the big perks in working closely with companies who are innovating, is that we get the chance to see talented people taking calculated risks to transform their sector. The rate of change is exponential, and it seems like we learn of a new breakthrough every day. There are, however, some innovations which are the bedrock under which many advances sit. Below are five technologies which are either changing, or could be about to, change our lives:
- Artificial Intelligence… for everybody – No longer just a plaything for the Google and Microsoft, AI is coming to everyone. Cloud-based AI allows access to a wide audience where AI libraries will be used to build new machine-learning software. Interestingly, AI systems now have the capability to duel together, meaning they learn from one another. The applications are limitless, but we can expect to see disruption to industries such as agriculture, manufacture, professional services, energy and healthcare. The AI market is forecasted to be worth a staggering $165 billion by 2025.
- 5G – nearly a decade in the making, 5G has already been rolled out to some smart cities and mobile 5G is finally making an appearance – including Belfast. 5G will provide significantly faster speeds for download and upload, paving the way for several technologies to be viable for a mass consumer audience. One of the major transformations will see the use of driverless cars become feasible due to the lack of lag time in response over the network. Similarly, there would be huge changes in areas such as medicine and manufacturing, where robots will be remotely controlled in real-time. There are, however, some initial draw backs around the number of transmitters which will be required to facilitate the network.
- Blockchain – To put it simply, we are talking about digital information (the “block”) stored in a public database (the “chain”). The blocks store information which distinguishes them from other blocks, with a unique code for each. Verified new data will be added in these blocks which can be publicly shared. What is important here is that this data is incredibly difficult to hack, due to the complex nature of the chain. The most well-known application of blockchain is Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies. Blockchain means that Cryptocurrency doesn’t have to be regulated and verified by a central authority, but instead by a central computer. Other than monetary applications, blockchain is also a reliable way to store data for many transactions such as healthcare records, property, contracts and supply chain.
- Internet of Things – In its broadest sense, the IoT incorporates everything with an internet connection. However, it’s now used to define these devices that “talk” to each other. By combining these items (wearables, sensors, smartphones etc.), it becomes possible to gather, analyse and create an action from received information. In sufficient volume, this creates a connected ecosystem with a key role for consumers and business. Industrial application increases efficiencies and reduces waste, whilst smart homes will give consumers convenient cost and time saving advantages. The IoT is the basis for many of the other key emerging technologies including smart cities, smart retail and supply chain and smart farming.
- Smart cities – A city making use of all interconnected information and using that information to control its operations and optimize resources. They lean on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions as well as wireless technologies to improve quality of life for citizens. Applications include improved energy distribution, streamlined rubbish collection, decreased congestion and even improved air quality.
What we know for definite is how important it is for every business to either innovate – or embrace the innovation of others to move forward. If your own business, or a business that you advise is innovating at present, there is a good chance that it qualifies for Research and Development Tax Credits, rewarding companies that are embracing change.