Thanks to the never-ending process of evolution in the world of technology, each year we see drastic changes in the technology trends around us, to which we gradually adapt while it becomes more mainstream.
Technology is evolving at an alarming rate, and we have adopted much of it in the past few years. The evidence is all around us. We have smart assistants and devices that are running on AI and ML, we have intelligent vehicles, our smartphones are using cutting-edge communication hardware, we now have access to unbeatable computational power. The list goes on. Much of it has been made possible thanks to the scientists and researchers who consistently pushed themselves to achieve these technological breakthroughs.
Although the year 2020 wasn’t one of the brightest years for all of us because of the Covid-19 pandemic, much was still achieved. Now that the year 2021 is almost kicking on our door, we’re sure you must be curious to know what updates to technology have in store for us.
Latest Technology Trends in 2021
2020 brought us a host of new trends in technology. A lot of them were successful in making a mark and were quickly adopted by the consensus. But as always, the competition in the IT industry to achieve better performance and to innovate in a specific technology keeps the playing field competitive and fresh for the players. The same is the case with the coming year.
In 2021, we will witness the rise of several new technology trends as well as improvements to current technologies that will make our lives even more hassle-free. In this article, we tried to cover some of the trends that we’re sure will become the center of attention in 2021. And believe us, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and you can expect a lot more to come in the following years.
1. 5G for Enhanced Connectivity
5G is the successor to now mainstream 4G telecommunication technology and undoubtedly one of the most anticipated top technology trends of 2021, which is expected to be a much more significant upgrade than its predecessor.
While 3G and 4G allowed us to browse the internet and stream videos on the move, the fifth generation of mobile networks will enable us to achieve internet speeds in the range of multiple Gigabits per second, facilitating connecting with anyone across the globe with super-fast internet speeds.
Other benefits offered by 5G include close to zero network latency in critical business applications and cloud games, decreased file download and upload times, seamless streaming from high definition cameras while retaining full quality.
Although some network providers have already started testing their 5G networks in limited areas, the technology hasn’t seen widespread use yet due to increased equipment cost and the slow addition of 5G-capable modems in smartphones and other cellular devices.
This is all going to change soon as devices with 5G modems have already started hitting the shelves, and in the coming year, it has been predicted that 5G will be launched globally by all major carriers around the world.
2. Rise of Quantum Computing
Quantum computing makes use of something called a Quantum computer, which is vastly different from the computers used today. Unlike our personal computers, which we use for a range of things, such as watching videos, browsing the internet, and working on documents, Quantum computers are built to perform insanely powerful calculations that modern computers simply can’t.
Wanna know why they’re called Quantum computers?
Well, Modern computers work on binary bits of data called 0 and 1, but these computers depend on quantum phenomena like quantum superposition and quantum entanglement and work on qubits.
Today, these computers are being used to solve complex computational problems for domains like:
● Science and medications, for detecting diseases and saving lives
● Finance, for predicting markets, risks, frauds, and optimizing portfolio
● Manufacturing, for optimizing the design of vehicles, batteries, chips, etc
● Optimizing Machine Learning methods
● Along with many other domains like logistics, energy, etc
Being extremely powerful, these Quantum computers can achieve in hours what our best-in-class computers today can do in months or even years.
3. Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS)
Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) are among the fresh new trends in technology that could play a pivotal role in preventing or at the very least, sharply reducing the number of road accidents caused each year.
Initial variants of DMSs used only the cameras mounted inside the vehicle to constantly analyze the driver’s state of alertness. But thanks to the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, camera hardware, and imaging software, an improved variant of DMS is on its way.
These newer systems will use Artificial Intelligence-powered software paired with cameras and various sensors to get a better idea of what’s happening inside the vehicle. This will allow the vehicle to alert drivers when they’re feeling sleepy or being distracted from driving.
Some vehicle manufacturers are also using Machine Learning algorithms to train their DMSs about the various states of a driver using facial features, such as eyelid positions and eye blink rates. Once operational, these monitoring systems can also be used to adjust various aspects of the vehicle, such as car height, rear-view mirror, steering-wheel height based on who’s driving. Support for the gesture and voice-based navigation and media control is also very possible.
4. Customer Data Platforms (CDP)
As customers, we often provide bits of information to businesses every time we visit their store or online portal. This data could include our name, contact information, address, product preferences, previous transactions, product reactions, feedback, and more.
This data is crucial to businesses as it helps them build a customer profile. Modern businesses know how valuable this data is for their growth as they spend large chunks of money on getting it. But as the data comes from multiple customer touchpoints, its fragmented nature makes it quite challenging to use it without properly curating it first.
Customer Data Platform(CDP) enables businesses to unify their customer’s data in one place, which can be later fed to other systems or departments. This allows the business to understand a customer better and send tailored promotional material to them.
CDPs are vital for reducing marketing effort by providing businesses with highly accurate customer data, leading to better marketing strategies. Going by the trend, we’re sure they will continue to play a significant role for businesses in the future.
5. Distributed Cloud
Cloud computing has become one of the hottest trends in recent years. Thanks to its increasing popularity, various service providers now provide public cloud services to organizations. These public clouds can be pre-configured with whatever the organization may require, such as VMs, applications, development environments, and such.
As these public cloud service providers are available globally, businesses can simply use their cloud infrastructure to provide faster and more localized services to their users in compliance with regulatory policies without worrying about any performance or scalability issues.
With a Distributed Cloud, businesses can seamlessly deploy and run their applications from a range of cloud locations, like public cloud infrastructure, on-premises, data centers from other cloud providers, or even third-party data centers, and control everything with centralized access.
The technologies that would benefit the most from Distributed Computing are Edge Computing and IoT (Internet of Things), as they need to instantly process the data generated locally as well as applications that process large amounts of data in real-time.
6. Intelligent Apps (I — Apps)
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, and their various components are playing a crucial role in giving our daily lives a mighty upgrade with intelligent apps. Although they may look like any other app, the real difference is underneath the UI.
Their intelligence comes from the underlying integration and use of AI, and it’s numerous offerings. With these technologies, apps can now use user data to analyze and predict their behavior and offer valuable predictions, insights, and tailored decisions when needed.
Living in the era of smart devices, you must’ve used smart digital assistants like Google Assistance, Alexa, or Siri. They are all part of the many intelligent apps that we have today. You must’ve noticed how efficiently they can offer well-thought-out decisions and alternatives, and even handle other connected smart devices automatically based on user preferences.
But these are just some of the things intelligent apps can do, and believe us, they can do a lot more. Intelligent apps in 2021 are going to get a whole lot better as we advance further in the domain of Artificial Intelligence.
We’re sure intelligent apps are going to get a whole lot better as we make more advancements in the domain of Artificial Intelligence.
7. Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers
Talking about Blockchain technology, the first thing that comes into everyone’s mind is Bitcoin.
Blockchain is an enormous list of records called blocks that keep on growing with each new transaction, and all these transactions are linked together using cryptographic methods called a hash, hence the chain in the name.
Commonly used by enterprises, Distributed Ledgers are essentially databases spread across multiple locations that process, validate, and store transactions and data, but instead of using centralized control, they use decentralized control. Without the consensus with the parties involved, nothing gets in or out of these databases. Even Blockchain is a kind of Distributed Ledger as it works on the same principle.
Judging by the success of Bitcoin, no wonder it’s Blockchain’s best application, but it has many more practical applications apart from just Bitcoin. Some of the domains where Blockchain is implemented are healthcare, energy trading, financial services, smart contracts, and more.
Even Facebook is prepping to launch its cryptocurrency called Libra next year. More than 75% of fintech firms are also in the process of adopting Blockchain internally.
8. Edge Computing
The idea behind Edge computing is to bring the resources and the computation as close to the host system as possible to offer instant results.
Curious to know how that happens?
In Edge computing, the host system or the edge server is built to perform most of the data processing tasks locally, without bouncing the data back and forth to a server for any processing, although it most definitely can when needed. Key reasons for using Edge computing could be:
● Close to zero network delay
● Reduction in bandwidth usage
● Savings in server and bandwidth cost
● Reduction in the server workload as fewer tasks are sent to the server for processing
● Sensitive data can be processed locally without sending it over to other computers
Edge computing significantly enhances the data processing speeds, which is the primary element in making cloud computing and IoT devices feel much more responsive. As the practical benefits of Edge computing have started hitting the market, many businesses are expected to get on board and start using these systems in 2021.
9. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the best examples of emerging technology trends and are clearly the most talked about topics of this decade.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are undoubtedly the most talked topics of this decade. AI gives computer systems and applications the intellectual power to make decisions after analyzing the problem at hand. People have leveraged the benefits of AI to develop numerous smart projects, such as speech and image recognition, language processing, and image restoration, to name a few.
While AI gives computers the ability to think, ML gives them the ability to learn and act using algorithms and training data.
Together, AI and ML provide everything needed to build an intelligent system enough to analyze the situation and pick the smartest decision.
Thousands of smart applications and products today deploy a blend of these technologies to understand their users and provide useful suggestions to them, making their lives easier. Some well-known examples include Amazon, Netflix, Google, chatbots, virtual assistants, and more. Judging by the rate we’re proceeding with these technologies, 2021 is going to be another year filled with pivotal innovations and improvements.
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10. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Over the years, we have made significant progress in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
What Augmented Reality essentially does?
Augmented Reality adds an extra set of digital elements to the real-world through your tablet or mobile screen. Users can seamlessly interact with these elements like they would with a normal app.
Meanwhile, Virtual Reality immerses you in a whole new virtual world with the help of specialized hardware, usually a head-mounted display and a pair of controllers or gesture tracking for interaction.
Of all the purposes AR and VR are being used, training and entertainment are the most popular ones. Other industries using these technologies include industrial design, navigation, science and research, navigation, military, and more.
We’ve been using AR on our smartphones and tablets for a while now. Apps and games like Snapchat, Pokemon Go, Measure, Sky Map, and many others are actively using AR. Improvements to processing hardware have boosted the sales of these VR headsets and supported apps, which will translate to even more job roles for VR developers, designers, and engineers in the future.
11. Intelligent Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things has been one of the most interesting technology trends for quite a few years now. It revolves around the idea of a fully connected smart home or office space that, can be managed from anywhere around the world.
These IoT-enabled devices could include anything from doorbells, security locks, light bulbs, thermostats, window blinds, ACs, TVs, and so many other systems connected to your WiFi network. What facilitates the communication among the devices present in the ecosystem are tiny integrated chips that process and share data with other IoT-enabled devices.
Newer innovations in the IoT industry will make it possible to have smart interconnected cities that will curb wastage of resources and energy. Businesses will also have much to gain from adopting IoT into their workflow. Much of the smaller and mundane tasks could be controlled effectively and even autonomously by these connected devices.
As IoT devices are essentially a network of embedded chips performing a limited range of activities and communicating with each other, we will also witness a boost in the development and innovations of embedded devices, data analytics, networking, information security, AI, and ML.
12. Cybersecurity Mesh
According to a recent report published by Gartner, one of the leading research and advisory companies in the industry, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought forth a new security challenge to organizations. With virtually every employee now working from a remote location, the security of company assets and documentation has taken the top priority.
Gartner suggests that the solution to this problem is a Cybersecurity Mesh. A Cybersecurity Mesh is a relatively fresh concept that roughly translates to a distributed approach to a responsive, scalable, and extremely reliable cybersecurity control.
While the traditional methods involved building a single security perimeter around all the devices or nodes in an IT network, but, as the workforce is now working from home, the newer approach suggests building a smaller, more modular, and controllable perimeter around the individuals. The goal is to have centralized control for effectively managing the IT security policies and their enforcement around each person’s access point or node.
As working remotely has become the new norm now, it has also opened several new avenues for hackers to attack and steal confidential information. It will be interesting to see how a concept like Cybersecurity Mesh will thwart these security threats and protect valuable information in 2021.
13. More Autonomous Things (Robots, Drones — Autonomous Vehicles)
You must’ve heard about a number of things that work on their own, like self-driving vehicles, robots, machines, and appliances, all working without any human involvement. They fall into the category of autonomous things.
Curious to know how they work?
Well, the automation offered by rigid programming models can only do so much for providing full automation, which is why developers also need to rely on smart technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
AI and ML have progressed enough today that they make for a pretty feasible solution to problems that used to plague such autonomous projects. In the real world, we now have plenty of smart autonomous solutions, such as:
● Businesses and factories are deploying autonomous machines that can handle much of the repetitive tasks
● Autonomous vehicles that use an array of cameras to navigate around traffic and drive you to your destination
● AI and ML-powered drones that can autonomously follow targets and navigate around obstacles without any human intervention
● Work is actively being carried out by mega-corporations to develop autonomous robots that can carry out tasks given to them
Each year brings its own set of technological improvements and new trends, and quite honestly, sometimes keeping up with these trends can become quite tiresome. But staying updated about these top technology trends has its own perks. For one, they give you an idea about trends that will possibly take the industry by storm, and two, they also give you an upper edge when it comes to learning about these new technologies.
Content Crafter and Marketer at Digitalogy who specializes in technology and businesses. He is passionate about blogging and helps his clients to achieve online success. You will often find him at business conferences.