1. The Internet of things
Little by little, all electronic devices are connecting to the Internet. It started with personal computers, notebooks, tablets and mobile phones. Then it was TVs, cars, glasses and watches. What’s next? Our homes. Fridges, keys, the heating, the electric meter and hoovers will all be connected. These new smart devices will not only be connected, but will also offer contextual relevance and a user-friendly experience, so are expected to have higher adoption rates, connecting every part of our lives.
2. Wearable devices
Wearable technologies will be everywhere in 2014. From activity bands to smart helmets and from smart clothing to Google Glass, we will be fully equipped with interconnected devices powered by the Internet. Wearable watches are already on the market, despite the limited functionality of the first-generation technology. Google Glass will get closer to the consumer, initiating a new trend where Web-based information is closely tied to the user’s daily habits, work and activities. Technology will also merge with clothing. Smart shoes from Adidas, for example, will have an integrated accelerometer, a gyroscope and Bluetooth, with the aim of motivating the user to exercise.
3. Augmented reality
Technologies that augment reality – connecting the physical and the virtual world – seemed super futuristic yesterday, but will soon become reality. In doing so, they will open up great opportunities for user engagement. We will basically be able to turn the whole world into a digital space where we can use the power of technologies to discover new digital horizons. The market for augmented reality mobile apps is predicted to grow this year and, according to Juniper Research, revenues will reach $5.2 billion by 2017.
The launch of Google Glass in 2014 will lead to even further growth in the market. It will shorten the distance between users and technology, allowing them to augment their everyday activities, such as watching a video on the cover of a newspaper or buying items by simply scanning them from a magazine.
4. Big data and machine learning algorithms
Traditional analytics will become obsolete. The future of technology will be shaped by machine learning algorithms – algorithms that are able to learn from the data they process and can be trained to improve as they process more data.
Machine learning is already a huge part of our lives, from filtering spam e-mails to providing relevant searches on the first page of our Google search. With the exponential growth of data, simple data analysis will no longer provide value. Real value will come with the application of machine learning algorithms that not only analyse but also predict and suggest, leading to tremendous opportunities for real-time engagement. Personalized e-commerce and mobile shopping, personalized information and business-to-business intranet portals will make information easily accessible. Machine learning technologies will provide the information you need when it is needed.
5. mHealth technologies
Our mobile phones have turned into our personal assistants. They navigate us through the day, giving recommendations on where to eat, what to watch and what to read. The active healthcare consumer is now also equipped with apps that monitor health, give advice on what to eat and encourage exercise. With the proliferation of low-cost mobile devices in emerging economies, mHealth technologies have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people and make healthcare more personalized and efficient. Analysts expect the global mHealth market to be worth $11.8 billion by 2018. What we can anticipate next is the personalization of the healthcare industry through technology and data.
6. 3D printing
The substantial decrease in the cost of 3D printing in the last year has made it affordable not only for companies but also for private users. The creative dimensions of the new technological possibilities are huge, ranging from architecture to home design to art and education. We will see various applications, particularly in healthcare. Affordable 3D-printed prosthetic devices, for example, will solve a real problem that will improve many people’s lives. The technology also holds great potential for manufacturing. Spare parts don’t have to be stored in big warehouses and sent over thousands of kilometres. Instead, they can be printed when and where they are actually needed. However, there will be negative consequences. Although some industries will make large cost savings, others might collapse.
7. Intraday delivery
E-commerce players with high-end warehouses, fast enterprise resource planning and supply chain management systems, and their own fleet of vehicles will change the way we buy online.
The competitive advantage of the bricks and mortar businesses will continue to crumble. The old way of delivery by outsourcing the logistics to companies such as traditional post, FedEx or DHL is neither fast nor innovative enough for leaders like Amazon and eBay. One-day delivery services will completely disrupt the business models of traditional retailers and transport and logistics companies. We saw the beginning with the testing of the first drones by Amazon. Although air traffic control and drone safety and usage rules will prevent quick proliferation, the one-day delivery service model will have important consequences.
8. Mobile payment and virtual currencies
With the increase in the number of mobile devices, there will be more and more new payment methods. NFC-enabled devices, digital wallets and Beacon, PayPal’s new wireless payment solution, are steadily reaching the mass market, allowing consumers to pay for things without a wallet or cash. Google will also be pushing the Google Wallet app for Android that allows users to send money using only a mobile phone. Apple’s iBeacon technology will unlock unlimited opportunities not only for mobile payments but also for indoor mapping and personalization. Finally, virtual currencies like bitcoin are the future, even if there are still a few issues to resolve.
9. Electric cars
This year, many vendors, even traditional car manufacturers, will finally launch full electric models. Unlike older vehicles, the electric cars of tomorrow will be fully equipped with computers, sensors and wireless connections, allowing cars to know more about the driver – information that could be very useful for car manufacturers. Although issues with batteries and charging remain, improvements and adaptations can be expected in the near future.
Several new online learning platforms and portals such as the Khan Academy, Coursera, university online portals or YouTube channels have been disrupting traditional education models. The initial idea was to provide high-quality education but the consequences have been much larger. As a result, the classroom is no longer simply a mentoring space, but is now an interactive and inspirational learning environment. The ease of access and certification offered by online learning models are key to making knowledge accessible to all.
Author: Michael Altendorf is chief executive officer and co-founder of Adtelligence, one of this year’s Technology Pioneers. Rositsa Zaimova, who co-authored this article, is head of mobile vision & product management of Adtelligence.
Image: A woman touches a chord charging an electric car in Detroit, USA REUTERS/Mark Blinch