via Forbes: We may have never before been in an era of such rapid technological change. Of course, much more is coming. Last fall, Gartner research predicted some of the big tech trends of 2018 and beyond, and it was quite a bounty: The continued rise of artificial intelligence and cloud-based computing, new developments in the internet of things, conversational platforms and other areas made the list.
All of that and more is underway, but I see a few advances coming in 2019 that can be truly transformative of the marketplace and consumer tech reality.
1. Blockchain-Based Identity And Privacy
With the growing prevalence of data breaches and the massively interconnected world we live in, new ways to verify identity and protect privacy will be game changers. Blockchain is a natural for this role because the whole point of it is to provide robust, incorruptible — yet encrypted — recordkeeping that anyone can easily verify. Companies like Evernym are already starting to do it.
Blockchain can also be used for shopping security, whether online or in person. Shopin, a startup in this space, has now created a “universal shopper profile” that is undergirded by blockchain. Unlike most systems these days, in which your purchase histories are stored and carefully scrutinized and shared by big names such as Google, Shopin restricts its information collection and sharing to only those entities that you (the consumer) grant it to share. Shopin also puts a new spin on how retailers buy ads: By receiving Shopin tokens for viewing ads, it’s the consumer who economically benefits and not the content provider.
In a new era of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (and other similar online data privacy legislation on the way), blockchain is poised to take its place at center stage in today’s economy. It’s likely that this change will be top-down: People won’t be demanding blockchain, so businesses will have to lead the charge in transitioning to this system.
2. ‘Dueling AI’
It’s a simple idea: Want to make your AI smarter? Have it battle it out with another AI. In this case, the arena is digital images: One AI attempts to create a realistic image, and another AI attempts to decide whether the image is real or artificial.
Of course, this is just one domain in which AIs can “duel.” Any domain can be modeled by computers: voices, video or whatever you might want to work with. The concept is called “generative adversarial networks” (GANs).
Imagine how that will advance online verification, such as today’s CAPTCHA technology, which requires real people to identify objects in grainy photos. With enough dueling, systems can sharpen their wits enough to easily break that sort of gatekeeper software. That will mean a new reality for secure browsing online (another reason why blockchain may be necessary).
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. AIs are intended to be intelligent systems that can, in principle, be unleashed on any problem domain. Rapid and independent “self-improvement” of AIs through dueling may lead to breakthroughs in medicine, technology, transportation or other important areas of life. In fact, tech giants like Amazon and Alibaba are already diving into research in this area.
3. 3D Metal Printing
3D printing is a great example of how incremental innovation can be revolutionary. We’ve always had printers and parts manufacturing, of course, but plastic 3D printing has been taken to the consumer and prosumer level. Now, 3D metal printing is poised to be the next big wave in this industry.
HP is planning its first offering, the Jet Fusion model, which it hopes will make a difference in the metal parts manufacturing sector. Other industry giants are also on board: GE has been printing metal fuel nozzles for its Leap jet engines, and Nike’s even printing metal cleats.
Looking to more delicate products, 3D metal printing is uniquely beneficial to toy and jewelry businesses. With a 3D printer, a massive factory is no longer needed to create beautiful pieces for small or medium-size businesses — and that will change the competitive landscape.
While 3D printing is still a long way from being widely adopted by the everyday consumer for in-home use, metal 3D printing brings it much closer. Most people won’t fork over thousands of dollars for a 3D printer that can print only plastics and basic materials. But if they could print electronic devices from home for a fraction of the cost and save time and money on shipping, many will do so once the price point for the printer makes sense.
It should be an exciting 18 months through the end of 2019, but the key is to be aware of opportunities early. These or other innovations will undoubtedly change the way we do business and live our lives, just as smartphones and the internet did in the past few decades. Companies that are poised to enter the market or generate revenue by playing off these new tech breakthroughs (think smartphone cases making millions), will be on solid ground to take on the next decade in 2020.