Information technology industry is booming in 2021. Innovations and developments are happening in the tech world every day. In fact, the tech industry is expected to be worth $5 trillion by the end of 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only escalated an ongoing technological revolution and sped up the emergence of new technologies in almost every walk of our lives. Among which, the Information and Communication Technology industry has probably been affected the most. It is an exciting time for tech enthusiasts who have been dreaming for these marvelous ICT concepts to come to life.
Today, we will discuss the top 10 emerging technologies of this industry being diffused right now and what they mean for our future.
Fifth generation technology for cellular networks is the successor of the 4G network we currently use in our cell phones. 5G started to be deployed in 2019 and by 2025, it’s expected to have more than 1.7 billion worldwide subscribers.
What makes it better than the previous networks is its greater bandwidth and higher download speed which can eventually go up to 10 GBPS. This promising high speed network is expected to replace existing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like cable internet. It’ll also make new applications of IoT and Machine to Machine tech possible.
Applications of 5G are divided into three areas. Only the first one has been deployed in 2020. The rest are yet to come.
The first (and already real) area is Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) with faster connection and more capacity.
Second is the Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) for mission critical applications. It’ll ensure uninterrupted exchange of data.
The third area is named Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC) where a large number of IoT devices will be connected. This area will help with disaster recovery efforts, autonomous vehicles and remote surgeries.
2. Smart Speaker
The world has already seen a wide use of this technology while it’s still being commercialized. Some renowned examples of the smart speaker technology would be Amazon Echo, Google Home and HomePod. Other than working as a virtual assistant with hands-free activation, some smart speakers can also be used for home automation.
Home automation is one of the most intriguing application areas of smart speakers. It includes various features like compatibility across a number of platforms, virtual assistants etc.
3. Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology of using things to connect and exchange data with other devices over the internet. These objects are embedded with softwares and sensors. But there are other technologies involved in implementing IoT as well, such as machine learning, ubiquitous computing, commodity sensors etc.
Another emerging application of IoT is to provide assistance to those with disabilities and elder care. Home systems are designed to accommodate users’ specific disabilities. For example, a user with sight or mobility limitations can benefit from the voice control feature. Additional safety features that monitor for medical emergencies can also be added to a home system.
There are applications of IoT in the organisational, infrastructure, industrial and military sectors as well. The projected global market value of IoT by 2020 was $7.1 trillion with 30 billion of said “things” connected to the internet. Overall, IoT technology has a wide range of applications and it’s changing how we live our lives in many ways making our day-to-days much more convenient.
4. Machine Translation
This one’s application is pretty straightforward. It enables software to translate text or speech from one language to another. But the technology behind it is not that straightforward.
As every language in the world is different and substituting one word of a language with one word of the other language is rarely enough to create a good translation, the MT technology needs to recognise whole phrases and find closest equivalents of them in the target language.
Good news is that these difficulties are being overcome fast, making way for better translations, translation of idioms and managing differences in language structures.
Despite being unable to create fully automated high quality translations, MT technology is being used widely. European Commission is currently the largest institutional user of machine translation. In fact, the University of Gothenburg has received 2.375 million euros from the EU to create a reliable MT tool that’ll translate most of the EU languages.
Improvements in MT quality are now creating new use scopes in online collaboration and medical fields. If difficulties with accurate translation can be overcome, Machine Translation technology can even be handy in medical research where a human translator is absent.
5. Gesture Recognition
Gesture recognition technology uses mathematical algorithms to interpret human gestures. This technology focuses on hands free use of devices through gestures, especially hands and face gestures.
Some smartphones now have a feature where you can wave your palm across the screen to conduct something pre-specified like answering a call or starting a selfie timer. This is an example of gesture recognition. But development of this technology has come so far that researchers are currently focusing on emotion recognition based on face gestures.
Gesture recognition is a step towards bridging human and machine interaction, moving on from text UI or even graphical UI. This technology is letting computers understand human body language. The day isn’t far when traditional input devices like keyboard and mouse will become redundant thanks to gesture recognition technology.
We love blockchain technology so much that we have a whole article on it. But for those of you who aren’t familiar, this technology was used to create Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. And it still has much more to give the world.
Let’s go over just a few possibilities with this technology. Cryptocurrencies, of course, are as safe as they are because of the Blockchain tech. Then comes the smart contracts. These are proposed contracts that can be executed without any necessary third party.
Many banks are cooperating with private companies that create blockchains to use distributed ledgers in the banking sector. A video game called CryptoKitties has been developed using blockchain tech. Energy trading, supply chain, healthcare, even domain name services are finding uses of this technology. Even though businesses are still a bit reluctant to put blockchain at their core, the future of this technology definitely shines bright from where we stand today.
7. Quantum Cryptography
Going with the secure exchange theme, quantum cryptography uses theories of quantum mechanics to encrypt messages in a way so it can never be read by someone it’s not meant for. Using quantum cryptography requires a quantum computer with an immense power of continually encrypting and decrypting data.
This promising technology will make computing problems much easier to solve than classic computers. Most of the applications of quantum cryptography are still under development. But the most developed one is the Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) where a communication takes place between two parties using a shared key that can’t be accessed by a third party.
8. Augmented Reality
Even though its applications are not too accessible yet, augmented reality still is a dream come true. This creates an interactive real world experience by enhancing computer-generated perceptual information. Sometimes there are multiple sensory modalities involved including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory.
AR as a system incorporates three basic features – a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and an accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects. Some internationally renowned brands have already started implementing AR in their softwares.
Moreover, augmented reality has applications in healthcare. AR has created the opportunity for medical students to train in an augmented environment as well as delivering real-time information for diagnosis, surgery and treatment plans in critical situations.
And, of course, AR is being used in video games too. A popular mobile game by Electronic Arts, The Sims Freeplay, is using the AR feature of iOS to create a more life-like experience within the game. Other games like this teeth brushing game for kids have also started using Augmented Reality, just for fun!
9. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is different from augmented reality in the way that AR only enhances the real world while VR creates a fully immersive experience with computer-generated simulations. One can interact with a three dimensional simulated space by wearing goggles with a screen or a pair of gloves attached with sensors using VR technology.
The application of virtual reality that we are most familiar with is probably a three dimensional movie. We put on special 3D glasses, walk into the theatre and the movie seems to be happening around us instead of behind a 2D screen. Other entertainment purposes like video games and social virtual worlds also use VR.
But that’s not all VR does. It’s used in science and medical studies as well. VR can be used as therapeutic intervention. Elderly individuals who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are getting rehabilitated with the help of VR. Virtual surgical environment was developed back in 1990 to train future surgeons in recognising errors as they occur.
It is safe to say the dream of having a virtual reality is not a dream anymore, rather it’s very real.
10. Biometric Authentication
This one – we see and use everyday and are really getting comfortable with. But biometric authentication technology is so much more than the fingerprint detector on your smartphone. It is changing the future of security processes.
Biometric authentication uses a user’s retinas, irises, voice, facial features or fingerprint to match with the previously stored data to grant them access into a locked or secured space. It’s more secure than any other multi-factor authentication as biometric signatures are unique to every individual.