Each year, technology surpasses the limits of what we know to be possible. But sometimes, even the most in-tune technology fans wonder what could possibly be left to develop next. Has the digital age reached its peak? 2017 is showing that there’s still so much tech can do to improve our lives, and this year, major trends in automation, artificial intelligence, and on-demand everything show that innovation isn’t slowing. Here’s how the top tech trends in 2017 are morphing our world.
In-Home Smart Technology
When it comes to thinking about “smart tech,” many people think of their smartphone’s voice activated search features. But in-home smart tech has taken off, working its way (albeit slowly) through a variety of appliances, accessories and aids. Refrigerators that can be checked from the grocery store via smartphone apps and washing machines that notify you of load complete are just two examples of high-end appliances that have hit the home goods market.
But smaller things — like virtual personal assistants a la Amazon’s Alexa — are making larger waves due to their everyday uses and entry-level cost. 2016 was considered a top year for voice-activated searches, and 2017 likely won’t trail behind as more tech companies introduce their own smart assistances and tools.
The current struggle in-home smart tech faces is becoming seamless; with many competitors in the market creating their own unique versions of smart appliances, users struggle to have a streamlined experience that keeps their home tidy and efficient without a different app or tool for each smart object.
Machine Learning and AI
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been a dream (and sometimes, a fear) for decades, but 2017 is seeing these forms of tech burst through in new ways. Machine learning has become a useful, emerging tool in predicting shopping needs and habits, and even searches — Google’s main search engine algorithm even uses some level of machine learning to help users.
And while to some, the idea of machine learning and artificial intelligence feel a little too sci-fi, this tech trend has countless uses — some of which are beneficial without even being recognized, such as helping to detect fraud, protecting data and personal security, and even analyzing health information to identify particular health concerns such as cancer risk. On the not-so-serious side, machine learning helps personalize shopping and movie browsing for a better user experience.
Developers of machine learning programs are expected to push the boundaries of what we know is possible as the year goes on.
Automation is sometimes blamed for job losses, but it’s an ever-evolving tech trend that won’t be stopping anytime soon. As automated processes replace jobs that could originally only be done by humans, we’ll see this trend expanding into other fields, too. While “robotic” writers and bots have been known to churn out news articles, 2017 expects to see more digitally created basic content that isn’t formed by humans. Other tasks, too, like office, healthcare and administrative support also utilize automation tools that could expand their duties over time. And when it comes to sales, media and customer service, you can expect 2017 to ramp up use of automation to get the job done.
3D printing has had a slow build over the past few years, but as more businesses look at innovative ways to speed up production and minimize costs, this tech trend is here to stay. In fact, 3D printing has a hold on the tech market, trickling down to schools and public libraries where instant creation has inspired a new generation of techies. While 3D printing is still a blossoming trend — considering acquiring a printer and supplies can have a costly barrier to entry — you can expect its popularity to increase in a world where creating everyday objects out of new resources (such as recycled fibers) and at a moment’s notice.
(Almost) Anything On-Demand
Remember when one-week shipping dates were a luxury? With an on-demand culture, you can expect your purchases to arrive faster and faster. The concept of on-demand has morphed drastically in the past few years, once being reserved for movie and film purchases available anytime through a few clicks of a remote.
But in 2017, tech innovations have made almost anything available within minutes of ordering — including take-out, fresh produce and groceries, rides, and miscellaneous purchases. As brands like Walmart and Amazon compete over shipping times (often offering same-day or next-day delivery or pick-up), we can only expect the on-demand trend to expand to faster levels. At this point, it’s easy to wonder what could possibly be the next development in on-demand availability? If 2017 is an indicator, this is one trend that won’t be slowing.