Saturday, June 15, 2024

Major Technology Trends and Challenges in 2017

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Driven by the consumer mindset of ‘everything on demand’, innovation is ongoing
for tech-driven companies. For the wellbeing of the human race, however,
technology should not be allowed to override human control.

Leon Zhang, Marketing Head, South Asia, Meizu

In a digitally-enabled world, technology is embedded in its core. Companies will harness their best potential to provide rich digital services to consumers. For example, the introduction of the first-ever touch screen smartphone in China in 2003 led to a paradigm shift in the ease of using such phones. These technologies are poised to bring a revolution in the marketplace, where consumers are continuously adapting to new innovations and eagerly awaiting something new every time. People have actually become addicted to the terminology “everything on demand”. Consequently, telecom manufacturing companies are always striving to fulfil the wishes of consumers.

Besides this, there are other trends and challenges that one needs to be aware of to meet market expectations. IoT (Internet of Things) will be a major focus for all technology companies because consumers are already experimenting and using different apps and new technologically-advanced devices that have made their lives most comfortable. Therefore, mainly to ensure them utmost satisfaction, rigorous research is underway about how devices can always remain well connected to each other, with the entire control being in human hands only.

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Ubiquitous IoT

Basically, one is making devices talk to each other in a virtual world and processing this information to perform the desired task. In reality, IoT will impart a physical meaning to all objects. This will become possible via MQTT or Message Queuing Telemetry Transport. A lightweight messaging protocol, MQTT will permit network clients with resource constraints to use simple means to distribute telemetry information. Deploying a communication pattern termed publish/subscribe, the protocol can be utilised for M2M (machine-to-machine) communications, thereby playing a pivotal role in IoT (Internet of Things).

IoT will soon be ubiquitous, with each object able to think and talk to one another, resulting in reduced human efforts to perform any task. Obviously, the initial start of IoT can be achieved with the development of smartphones that almost everyone generally carries these days. Therefore, smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. This is the gadget that will usher a revolution in the world of connected devices.

In the absence of Internet or Wi-Fi connectivity, however, will these gadgets still work? That is where BLE comes into the picture. Also known as Bluetooth Smart or BLE (Bluetooth with Low Energy), this is considered the fulcrum for wireless connectivity. Thanks to BLE, developers can create tiny sensors running on minuscule coin-cell batteries for months, or years, on end. Given this incredible energy source, billions of devices today come with Bluetooth technology – an underlying basis for the IoT revolution.

Meanwhile, people have begun thoroughly enjoying Augmented and Virtual Reality items. This was evident in the market mania when Pokémon Go was launched. It indicates people are welcoming these innovative technologies, which ensures much space to the R&D sector to think out-of-the-box and produce something totally different. This is an era in which people prefer 3D, 4D and 5D, where they can feel and sense the virtual object. But soon, an era of 7D or 8D will arise, when people will also smell and touch the virtual thing, much like a real thing.

The major change will come about when these technologies are embedded as normal features in consumers’ smartphones, whereby they can make any virtual thing on their own and experience it in a real way. In fact, perhaps in the near future, consumers will own a solar smartphone where the problem of repetitive charges will vanish. Consumers will simply use their smartphones throughout the day without worrying about battery consumption.

Security via Biometrics

Fingerprint sensors in smartphones are already in the market. Soon, retina-scan sensors in smartphones will be a major technology trend. Authentication with Biometrics involves accessing a product or service via identification by deploying biometric data such as fingerprints, eye scans, voice or facial recognition. Biometric identification uses a unique identifier.

For instance, a fingerprint scan can identify a unique fingerprint, while voice recognition does the same with a person’s voice. In the case of eyes, an iris or retina scan could include recognising the blood vessels in the eye. The latter is effective because blood vessels in a person’s eye never change over time and are recognisable even through glasses as well as contact lenses.

This form of biometric identification even works with a tablet camera or smartphone. After the tablet or smartphone has mapped the user’s blood vessels, an encryption key is created that is akin to a complex 50-character password. This information is then scrambled and encrypted on the device, ensuring it cannot be intercepted. Using blood vessels in the eyes as biometric identification to access services is a secure option. Hackers can’t copy the blood vessels in a person’s eyes and it doesn’t take expensive hardware to implement the solution. Biometric identification can be used in tandem with passwords for two-factor authentication or multifactor authentication. When a person accesses an online service, such as a bank or email account, biometric authentication can capture the account holder’s eye image after the password has been entered. Biometric information is an excellent security mechanism because cyber criminals cannot access this unique data.

Privacy and Control

Limitless data is being transferred between all devices, allowing access to practically infinite information worldwide. With billions of new devices and technologies emerging, cloud computing will be the sole domain to store and analyse such massive data. In other words, as cloud computing is vital to IoT, these technologies will need to be extremely well synchronised with future smart gadgets of all kinds in order to attract the interest of consumers.

In this scenario, the main challenge will be the tremendous outflow of personal data to the outside world, making everyone’s lives an open book and breaching the personal security layer. Therefore, cyber security will become a major concern for everyone to protect personal information. Indeed, people are already enjoying and living in a virtual world, which is making everyone akin to robots.

Against this backdrop, the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings new advances to the fore. As AI scales new levels, humans are being beaten in many fields traditionally considered the sole preserve of human intelligence, including chess and Go. The latter is a Chinese game considered more complex than chess. Robots with AI are even programmed to mimic human facial emotions.

As things stand, AI is poised to take over human work. While this will definitely speed up the pace of work, there are seen and unforeseen perils in AI. The framework of AI is such that humans will be imparting machines the ability to think. This can be constructive as well as destructive. The latter is truly frightening because machines could think and perform tasks as per their cold calculations and comfort levels, while human ‘masters’ remain mere spectators in everything with little power to stop any negative initiative or outcome.

Is this a safe scenario? Not at all! With AI and other technological advancements, it is imperative we decide extremely carefully about the extent humans can permit technology to rule their lives. We should ensure that not only do we enjoy innovative technologies but also do so safely in future.

Such a safe scenario may only be possible if AI is perpetually programmed to operate under human command only with an auto-stop or self-destruct mechanism that prevents machines from turning upon humans. The wellbeing of the human race could depend upon it…


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