Every year around this time, prestigious publications, consulting firms and experts dish out their top IT and tech predictions for the coming year — providing a fascinating insight into the technology that we may soon use in everyday business.
Prediction 1: Machine learning changes the way we work
This time last year, we were already starting to see the development of advanced machine learning technologies penetrating the workplace. However, we expected further advancements, predicting that “AI bots will be applied to compile data, schedule meetings and even answer your emails." In many respects, that has come to fruition.
While there are a wide variety of specialized and advanced tools now available to do each of those tasks using AI, this was also the year that Gmail launched its machine learning Smart Reply feature across the platform and Microsoft made its virtual scheduling assistant available to all Office 365 and Google calendar users. It’s safe to claim victory on this first prediction.
Prediction 2: Self-driving cars save lives
While we did predict a step forward in self-driving technology, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that self-driving cars saved many lives in 2017. Strides were absolutely made in self-driving technologies, but it’s hard to claim credit for nailing this prediction.
Interestingly, however, the end of 2017 saw somewhat of a pivot from self-driving cars towards self-driving trucks, with Tesla, TuSimple, Embark and Volvo each releasing their latest efforts. The MIT Technology Review, however, says we’re still five to ten years away from a world of self-driving trucks.
Prediction 3: We'll watch football games in VR
While we’re not all watching the pigskin tossed around each Sunday wearing a VR headset just yet, last year’s prediction didn’t fall that far off the mark.
The widespread adoption of VR headsets is yet to become a reality, but fans can still enjoy live entertainment experiences from the comfort of their own homes using virtual reality.
In September 2017, the Global Citizen music festival in New York streamed live to VR headsets around the world. In October, Matchbox 20 did the same for one of their concerts, as did Coldplay in August.
Earlier this year Facebook launched “Venues,” its VR concert streaming application, and NBA games have been available for live VR streaming since October 2016. Though the NFL and CFL may be lagging behind, watching live music and sporting events in VR is a reality today, at least for those who own a headset.
Prediction 4: Big data predicts your health
We’ve been seeing more wearable devices and biomedical technologies in homes and healthcare facilities in the past few years, but our prediction that information sharing would become a hot trend in the healthcare industry in 2017 was right on the money.
Last year we predicted, “Not only will doctors and nurses be able to look up your medical history with the click of a button, but by having access to ‘big data’ (that is, data sets which can be analyzed to reveal patterns and trends), doctors will be able to study the long-term impact on residents' health or medical concerns.”
Since that prediction was made, countless startups and established players have sprung into the big data healthcare space to increase information sharing about individual patients while finding life-saving patterns and metadata to inform healthcare decisions.
In fact, big data investments in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry reached nearly $4 billion over the past year.
Prediction 5: Your ‘smart' home is going to be brilliant
While the development of smart home capabilities was well in line with our prediction from last year, the technologies are still making their way into the mainstream, including the locally-offered Lyric Home Automation system.
It was expected that organizations like Nest and Canadian competitor Ecobee would ramp up their smart home offerings in 2017. These and other Internet of things products were also expected to integrate with voice-activated AI assistants. But the real story of 2017 became the development of more of those assistants, rather than the growth in smart home capabilities.
While new tools and gadgets did hit the market this year, credit for the most significant developments in the smart home space goes to AI assistants like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri, each of which got hardware and software upgrades in the past 12 months.