2017 has been a wild year full of surprises. Some of them were unpleasant while others have given us a bit of hope that the future might be a bit better. For 2018, we could expect more of the same, but there are also other groundbreaking technologies that might start really taking off in the coming year. Without further ado, we feel it is appropriate to close the year by mentioning a couple of things that we will be paying close attention to through the next year.
Lithium-Based Batteries Might Be on Their Way Out
Lithium-ion batteries were great little things to have when portable devices were able to live about a week on the juice they provided. Even as they degraded, we barely noticed it happening.
Unfortunately, it is no longer the late 90s, and our phones are no longer glorified radios with games like Snake installed. The era of the Nokia “dumbphone” is over, and we now hold in our hands devices that could be comparable to computers.
It’s time for new battery technologies, and smartphone manufacturers have slowly been caving into this demand even before 2017. But in this year, Samsung has been looking into a graphene-based battery that could increase power density by 45%.
The race is on, and battery manufacturers are elbowing each other frantically to see who gets to be the “messiah” that rescues the tech industry from its dependency on lithium. We may just see a breakthrough through the next year due to the intense competition resulting from this demand.
Blockchain Technology Will Experience a Happy Year
Overhyped or not, blockchain technology certainly has a significant amount of potential outside of the financial world. Government cadastral services are currently using it to stamp out corruption, and companies with large supply chains can manage their logistics more efficiently with the redundancy that it provides.
If you’re not very familiar with blockchain technology, we have a helpful little guide right here.
Even in the financial sectors, banks are gearing up to use blockchains so that they can compete with the transaction rates visible in some cryptocurrencies. Imagine sending money to a loved one living far away without having to pay a hefty fee, and the transaction would take only a few minutes to verify. Blockchains can effectively do the same to fiat currencies as they have their digital counterparts (e.g. Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, etc.).
Although it is a bit overhyped (and could lead to another bubble), the technology itself will definitely be put to use in a valuable way in 2018.
AI Will Become More Creepily Intelligent
So far we’ve seen the advent of home assistance devices that you can control just by talking to them from across a room. We can expect these tools to become more intelligent as companies continue to attempt to cater to their customers’ every need.
At the same time, we can expect to have growing concerns about privacy as we allow these devices to take part in our daily lives and get to know us better. In the middle of April 2017, Bose Corp. was sued because its headphones spy on listeners.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that 2018 will be full of more of these unpleasant surprises as our devices collect more data on us. Even worse of a prospect is the number of people who give up this data willingly.
This may be a bit of a stretch to predict, but we might also expect to have the ability to have more sophisticated two-way conversations with machines in the next year, considering how accurately they are now able to interpret what we say.
Smartphones Will Have More Convenient Authentication Methods
It’s not that hard to fathom a world in which 2018 will see many smartphones using more creative unlocking and authentication methods than passwords, patterns, slide-to-unlock, and PIN numbers. Flagship smartphones have begun the process of implementing biometric authentication on their platforms for a few years already. Apple’s Face ID in the iPhone X uses facial recognition in a way that works better than what most predecessors have implemented.
In 2018 we’ll likely see the release of many more mid-range phones with these options. The trend has started already. For example, Huawei’s been putting fingerprint scanners on the rear side of their phones since they released the P8. I just bought a P10 and noticed a square indent on the back of the phone that represented its scanner. This certainly smells like it will be a more mainstream trend in future devices from smaller manufacturers.
These technologies are evolving, but they don’t come without their drawbacks. The irrevocability of fingerprints can (in some situations) make them lousy replacements for interchangeable passwords. As for facial recognition, security experts are not necessarily the biggest fans of this technology due to its ability to be tricked and its limitations. Nonetheless, for most everyday users they present more convenient and (relatively) safe alternatives to using patterns, PINs, and passwords that one would have to memorize.
Which of these trends for 2018 do you look forward to the most? Tell us all about it in a comment!