2019 – What’s up tech-wise?


Crystal ball gazing has never been an exact science in spite of modern tech and Artificial Intelligence to help with the right kind of algorithms.

A look at what is on offer and more to the point what is likely to come our way in 2019 all without AI to help may be way off but here it is. The first on my list is

what is going on in the transportation business, a fast-moving section for the technology flying carguys, with not just autonomous road vehicles, but also autonomous helicopters, and autonomous air taxis and I am just awaiting someone to announce autonomous boats, yes there already is an autonomous ferry operating somewhere.

domestic-robots1Next everyone seems to be in to Robots, little ones for company, a little larger for delivering goods and serving your five o’clock G & T, and bigger ones to act as human sized conversationalists, though in fairness and in spite of AI this is still a work in progress. Then we are into the industrial scale robots for all sorts of repetitive manufacturing and right up to the robotic surgeons that can expertly give you brain surgery at a precision that would be hard for a human to emulate.

Closer to home we now hear of TV with 8K [7680 pixels across] that displays a picture so beautiful that it is hard to believe it is not real, and of course there is the new folding screens and curved screens and deafening loudspeakers.

If that wasn’t enough think of the Alexa and Echo speakers for the home so that you can alexabe in constant contact with Google or Amazon, should that be your wish, and you can ask questions and get answers on most things with such answers prepared to be most likely what you wished to hear since they already know all about you and quite possibly knew what you were going to ask even before you did. These smart gadgets now surround and connect your home in a unified way which we are told will make our lives easier.

I have written quite a lot about IoT in past postings, but it is escalating beyond expectations and I am confident the use of interconnected things will surprise us all. So no longer just your fridge telling you what you are short of, your door chime records your visitors and your audio speaker system will order your kids’ toys on line. The most wondrous is the growth of data that will be produced by the IoT use, something like 4 to 4.5 zettabytes by 2020, or put differently installed base of interconnected devices is expected to reach more than 50 billion by 2020. Now that’s growth.

But, and that is the thing, voice interaction thanks to AI is set to be the next user interface, not just for the home assistants such as Alexa and Echo, but in your car, your computer and smartphone. Maybe the keyboard is on its last legs too being replaced with voice input. We already have had various dictation softwares like Dragon and as part of Apple operating systems so it is more a case of how practical it would be in say an office with several computer operators, though that may be little different to say a multi-phone answering service.

infotainment systemYour next car’s infotainment includes showing movies, playing games and if you get hungry it’ll make a restaurant reservation on the go for you. Sure, the car may be a bit expensive, but hey… If you could afford the self-driving golf cart, then….

You may also like an automatic beer brewing machine which is being marketed by LG in Korea this northern spring. LG sells small boxes with the necessary hops and grain and the brewing and fermentation takes about 3 weeks and produces 5 litres of fresh beer, i.e. as easy as making a cup of coffee.

Needless to say, there are new smartphones to come, but the past 10 years or so have brought the smartphone to a point where it is becoming difficult to come up with even better, even smarter, faster and spectacular phones. They have to a large extent revolutionized our lives in the way we communicate and live, but one has to ask if we are at the gimmick point for makers to differentiate between brands and performance.

What has and will continue to be adopted by us as consumers is self-monitodigital pillsring devices like fitness trackers for the young at heart and smart glasses that lets us stay in touch with the internet. And as for the health issue digital pills are entering mainstream medicine as are implantable, embedded or body attached Internet of Body [IoB, a new term] devices to interact with sensors in the environment to provide richer data. Once again one has to consider concerns about privacy, security, physical harm and abuse.

voice interfaceAs with the voice interaction there is also the facial recognition move. This is used already in China to assess loyalty to the state, and we have it already as part of some computer operating systems log-in. It’s a good guess that some sort of voice interaction will become part of what you will be dealing with in the coming year, so don’t go hoarse on it.

For Kapiti SeniorNet the challenge to bring the mystique down to comprehensible and readily usable information for its members is quite a task for it is important that we as members learn to make the most out of the available technology, and to learn what we derive the most advantage from using. It has to be said that that goal in the many past years was successfully achieved for our members, and now with new challenges Kapiti SeniorNet is already working hard at meeting the 2019 needs.

Here is to a Happy 2019 for all our members.