The internet of things is the term that refers to the near future prospect of more intelligent objects being connected to the internet than people on earth. Originally projected at a low figure, recent estimates anticipate that 50 billion internet connected devices will be in circulation by 2020, with more being in circulation today than the number of people on earth five years ago.
This means that the emerging world of IT is one which consists of data as power. For businesses to be viewed as a contender, both by consumers and in the marketplace, they must digitise and be consistent across all customer interaction and marketing channels, such as social media. Social media platforms will evolve as a new source of corporate intelligence and lead generation, and cloud computing is delivering as a drive of business growth in recent years, companies will have to innovate or get left behind.
14.1 Future Products and Services
The proposed next telecommunication standards after 4G, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile network and wireless communication. 5G aims to offer much faster speeds and ultra-reliable device-to-device connections to keep up with the ever-changing ways in which the internet is being used.
Predicted timescale: 2019
Ambient Intelligence (AMI), refers to digital environments that are reactive and sensitive to the presence of humans. In a world dominated by AMI technology, devices would work in harmony with people to help them carry out their daily activities in a natural hassle-free way by using intelligence within the network that connects them.
An example scenario in which ambient intelligence exists would go as follows:
A person will come home from work and an intelligent facial recognition camera will switch the alarm off, unlock and open the front door. Upon entering the house a map will light up on the wall letting that person know where their family is in or out of the house. At the same time, remote child surveillance software will switch off once notified that a parent is back. After entering the kitchen a memo board would light up, highlighting any new notes left by family members. The fridge will also show what recipes can be made with the ingredients currently available within, and suggest a shopping list, which can be amended and approved before being sent to the supermarket for delivery.
Predicted timescale: 2022
Augmented reality is the improvement of something in the physical world with ‘augmented’ computer generated elements such as sound, graphics, video, or GPS data. It has hundreds of potential real world applications to help enhance visions, sound, and even touch.
Examples of augmented reality today include Google Glass; a special pair of glasses that superimpose information within the users view that relates to what they are looking at, and Pokémon Go. The latter placed moving Pokémon characters on a screen that corresponded with a view of the real world so that users could interact with them.
Predicted timescale: 2021
Internet of Things
The inter-networking and connection of all devices, the internet of things examines the way in which objects, such as personal devices, vehicles, and buildings, will collect and exchange information. It more closely examines the way in which these devices are connected by looking at their electronics, software, networks, and sensors.
Real world applications would include devices monitoring things such as shopping habits. That data can then be used by the device to show the user things they might be interested in, when their favourite items are on offer, or when things like the pantry need re-stocking.
Predicted timescale: 50 billion connected devices by 2020.
With the end goal being devices that interpret human movement as algorithms, gesture recognition refers to the computer science and language technology allowing gestures to control devices without physically touching them. Gesture recognition software will be applied to modern day devices, such as TV’s and computers, and allow people to use them purely via gestures and movement. Another branch of gesture recognition is facial recognition. This technology will eventually be able to read facial movements, such as blinking and eye movement, and smiling or yawning.
Predicted timescale: Gesture recognition technology beginning to be used today.
A sub-field of computational linguistics, machine translation investigates how software can be used to translate speech or text from one language to another in real-time.
This technology is receiving huge amounts of investment from major global bodies, such as the European Union and US intelligence agencies. The EU seeks to utilise the technology as a way of removing the need for human translators, that due to their unique skillset often come with large annual salary demands. The latter, US intelligence seeks to use translation technology to translate speech from threats in real-time, such as that posed by terrorism, to be better equipped to deal with the threat in a timely manner.
Predicted timescale: 2024Speech RecognitionSpeech recognition is the name given to the development of technology and methodologies that enable the recognition and translation of spoken words into text by computers.
Speech recognition has several real-world applications, mainly as a type of technology to make everyday ventures more pleasant. For example, it could be used by students in lessons or lectures, so that notes are automatically accurately taken without the need of a Dictaphone. It could also be used in business as a method of minute-taking in meetings, or as a method of activating devices. Two examples of the latter are Microsoft Alexa, and Apple’s Siri.
Predicted timescale: Early technology used today
Virtual reality (VR) is the name given to technology, such as VR headsets, that generate real world images, sensations, and sounds to immerse a person in an environment.
VR technologies may be utilised in many different areas. In dentistry, patients could wear a VR headset and be placed in a peaceful environment whilst having a typically painful treatment. In several industries the technology could be used to train staff. For example, medical and military staff could perform tricky surgeries, or learn to use military vehicles without the risk of being in the actual environment and endanger their own or somebody else’s life.
VR could also be used as a way of treating symptoms from several disorders, such as anxiety. By giving someone that suffers from anxiety attacks a VR headset they could be guided through the symptoms with meditation or breathing techniques.
Predicted timescale: Early technology in circulation now.
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is the creation of machines that exhibit intelligence that matches or exceeds that of humans. Software will be named artificial intelligence when it can work and react like humans, recognise speech, plan, problem solve, and most importantly, learn.
Artificial intelligence has near-limitless real-world applications, some key areas are listed below:
- Handwriting, speech, and facial recognition – this differs from where this is outlined above as AI will be able to interact with people in a human way as opposed to reacting.
- Artificial creativity – computers will be able to produce unique pieces of art, and understand when it has done so.
- Artificial life – the creation of biological phenomena from completely computerised hardware, software, and synthetic bio-materials.
Perhaps the biggest area in which AI will impact humanity is in robotics. Intelligent robots with the ability to learn will eventually be commissioned into every industry that humans operate in today:
- Transport – vehicles and aircraft will be operated by AI.
- Hospitality – AI will fulfil the role of ‘front-of-house’ human employees, preparing, cooking, serving meals, guiding people.
- Manufacturing – Some industries are almost entirely automated today, but the dawn of AI will all but eliminate a human presence.
- Medicine – Robots will perform complex procedures and react to complications in the same way, if not better, than human doctors.
- Agriculture – AI will rear livestock, and grow and harvest crops.
- Domestically – Robots imbued with AI will help humans around their homes with everyday tasks; laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning. They are predicted to also help in the role of child minders and carers.
- Military – A more sinister look at AI shows that robots may appear in warfare. Removing humans from battle is the biggest positive in this, with robots eventually being able to carry more weight, navigate more dangerous terrain, and help injured people. But, placing guns in their hands raises a whole host of ethical and controversial issues.
Predicted timescale: Machines are predicted to be as smart as humans by 2040
14.2 Market Trends
Global spending on IT products and services is continuing to grow. Between the years of 2014 and 2019, worldwide spending is expected to increase from £1,638.2 billion to £1,935.7 billion, with the efforts of international companies now reflecting this trend.
Iron Paper has consolidated its research on the future market here: http://www.ironpaper.com/webintel/articles/it-market-statistics-and-trends/
14.3 The Impact of Technology on Modern Life
Technology has globalised education. The move to virtualisation and digitisation has created brand new opportunities for education to be remote, allowing for the interaction of teachers and students from different countries via online learning (webinars).
The unfortunate rise of fake news has also established new ways in which to mislead people to misinformed opinions. Technology such as social media and online news channels can sway a person’s mind, and radicalise people to believe a certain way.
Society has been forever changed by technology. Humanity has reached all corners of the globe, national borders and racial differences are becoming more and more blurred due to innovations in transportation. Automobiles, electronic trains, and airplanes have made moving from one place to another easy and quick, and given people opportunities to reach previously unreachable parts of the world.
By giving people the tools to be and remain connected at all times technology has changed the way that humans communicate. Technology such as social media and mobile phones has changed how humans not only interact, but in the maintaining and creating of relationships.
The increase in the use of technology in the developed world has also created a ‘digital divide’, particularly where people do not have access to technology in the third world. Additionally, whilst the use of technology in communication has led to a more convenient society where instant communication is now a normality, it has also increased the amount of people that do not communicate face-to-face. Generations of children could grow up without basic social skills if the increasing rate of purely digital interaction continues.
For more information on how technology and the internet has impacted modern society, please refer to section 3.5.
14.4 The Impact of Technology on Business
Technology has changed the face of business. With innovation, a company can constantly reduce costs and remain ahead of the curve. It allows businesses to improve their services by utilising tools such as the internet and social media for direct customer communication and feedback. Technology can also be used by companies as a HR tool, allowing them to find talent, recruit, teach and train new employees.
Big data is the term used to describe large complex sets of data which traditional processing application software would struggle to capture, store, analyse, share, transfer, update, or otherwise process. Big data will become a new asset for companies from which to increase revenue, offering data services to smaller companies, meaning businesses of all sizes should now have a strategy for collecting, using, and protecting their data.
Online Threat, and Security
As technology has made its way into every aspect of business, so too has the risk of people willing to use this as an opportunity to commit fraud, theft, or another form of malice. A standard business model is to increase revenue, reduce expenses and prevent any losses; a security breach could decrease the effectiveness of any of these core functions:
- A breach could shut down electronic trading and reduce revenue.
- A breach could cause infrastructure damage and create unplanned expenses.
- A breach can cause loses from fraud or theft, which could have been avoided.
For more information on the modern computer security threats, please refer to section 5.7.
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