When we gazed into our crystal ball at the end of 2017, we made several predictions for 2018. I’m pleased to say that we weren’t far off the mark on most of them. In this post, we revisit our 2018 predictions and provide context as to why things may not have turned out exactly as we thought. We’ll also discuss how these developments will continue to evolve in 2019.
AI will continue its rapid growth in 2018
We were right that AI would rapidly expand to consume all industry sectors, but this wasn’t a hard one to predict – AI is ‘the’ hot topic in technology. Cloud AI has certainly made strides in 2018 but many companies also used AI in name alone as a pure marketing tool. Many are not using AI in the truest sense of the word; the majority are exploiting pattern-matching algorithms alongside big data analytics and then claiming this as AI. This resulted in “IoT” being largely replaced by “smart technology”, with that smartness implying some form of AI.
In 2019 we expect the interest and demand for AI to continue; indeed, the technology will start to mature. However, it’s likely that AI will enter Gartner’s famed “trough of disillusionment” for many companies: the industry will quickly realise that AI isn’t the answer to everything, the hype will disappear somewhat. Others will quickly shift focus, ensuring that useful elements of AI that augment systems capabilities are retained, but AI will not necessarily remain central to the operation of those systems.
True AI, where machines can make decisions based on cognitive reasoning, is still a decade or more away. Cloud connectivity will remain crucial for many years, affording access not just to the massively parallel compute resource necessary – possibly via quantum machines – but also the immense knowledge store and databases that AI relies upon to make sense of the world around it. I expect cloud architectures and the connectivity bandwidth to scale accordingly.
For true AI at the edge, we shall need to consider innovative methods of improving the packing density of transistors onto silicon chips. We expect to see entirely new ways of constructing SoCs that have both the capacity to acquire knowledge through learning alongside the necessary reasoning skills to adapt. This is several years away.
AR glasses will have a second coming
Whilst this was a reasonable prediction based on the industry insights available at the time, it’s fair to say that AR didn’t really move forward much in 2018. The same issues as we highlighted remain true – mass market adoption of AR glasses depends on the need to be reasonably priced. The glasses themselves also need to be sleeker in design, whilst issues with battery life still need to be addressed. The potential is certainly there for AR but its success is unfortunately tied into the success of wearable displays in general and will get thwarted somewhat in 2019 by the continued disillusionment with VR.
VR will stagnate
Even Oculus founder Palmer Luckey agreed with us on this prediction when he stated, “No existing or imminent VR hardware is good enough to go truly mainstream, even at a price of $0.00”. Do we see this changing in 2019? No. But we need to acknowledge that VR has a big influence in developing the technologies that will be required to make AR a success.
The challenges to VR adoption aren’t limited to those we stated previously, such as the graphics resolution and quality not being sufficient enough to make it a more mainstream proposition. There’s also the issue of developing content for VR headsets. For example, while 360° video and immersive spatial audio show promise in extending the market beyond hardcore gamers, we need a set of video and audio standards that broadcasters and content providers can coalesce around. In addition, we need standards targeting additional human senses such as touch and smell; this would then differentiate VR among other less immersive content formats. Until then, VR will remain niche and restricted in application.
The first 5G network will go live
As for where this takes us in 2019, clearly 5G will be offered as an upgrade to current services; it will inevitably start in cities first before being rolled out more widely over the next few years, as smartphones also integrate 5G wireless technologies. Companies will experiment with 5G for backhaul of AI data to the cloud, IoT devices will likely include 5G modems for communication, and there may be a push for low-power 5G modems to help the technology proliferate across IoT products. Anyone want to go out on a limb and predict 6G services?
Security in IoT will continue to be a challenge
We started to see virtualization in some IoT devices this year to help improve device security overall. But 2018 hasn’t delivered any spectacular failures in IoT security; nothing that hasn’t been experienced already or previously forewarned. Instead, we’ve seen the continued mantra of “buyer beware”, with IoT security warnings only slightly heeded by consumers. Hackers with serious intent tend to go after the cloud-based infrastructure rather than individual IoT end devices because there is more to be gained by taking a service offline or compromising systems holding customer data.
Autonomous cars will become entertainment spaces
The IP industry is gearing up for this change, certainly. But surely most consumers will simply sleep in an autonomous car: why not grab forty winks more on the way to the office? Me: I’d prefer the window seat that allows me to experience the countryside speeding past, rather than immersing myself in screens. And why will we be commuting? Won’t telepresence be a thing by then? Surely VR will have nailed this application? [Listen to our webinar on PowerVR Automotive]