If you’re not in the industry, it can feel like the only technology news that bubbles to the surface are the specifics of the latest iPhone release. But, despite the hyper-advanced tech tools we have at our disposal today, there’s a lot more coming down the pipeline. Some of it, you might have never heard of.
Industry experts shared their most exciting picks for “next big thing” in the tech world that will change our lives.
“By 2020, natural language generation and artificial intelligence will be a standard feature of 90 percent of modern business intelligence and analytics platforms.
“Natural language generation is the software process of turning data into clear, human-sounding, insightful narratives. This process allows any user in any enterprise, from entry-level analysts to C-Suite executives, to overcome a lack of data understanding by providing analysis in a format anyone can understand: the written word. Pairing written analytics with data visualizations creates a more complete understanding of an organization’s data, allowing companies to transform numbers into more compelling, accurate business decisions.” — Kaity Lloyd, Automated Insights and Wordsmith
“In the next five years, voice will overtake text as the top search style. This will completely change (search engine optimization), blogging, content marketing, etc. Figuring out how to optimize content for a completely new type of search will be an exciting challenge for all search marketing professionals.” — Levi Olmstead, community manager at G2 Crowd
“I think one of the sleeping giants in technology right now is how 5G networks will have an impact on everything from telecommunications to gaming in the very near future… You don’t seem to hear much about 5G technology. The internet of things (or IoT) is one of the most common tech buzzwords you’ll read about today. But what about the ways 5G will contribute to IoT?
“The time it’ll take to transfer and process data from one IoT device to another will be seamless thanks to low-latency from 5G technology. Right now, 4G networks are simply inhibiting the effectiveness of IoT solutions. When 5G is introduced, new concepts for IoT applications will move from the drawing board to production.
“As a veteran gamer, it’s hard to deny the ways 5G will affect the gaming industry. Obviously feedback will be lightning-fast and lag from user-to-device will be minimized, but there’s another way 5G will revolutionize gaming. To reduce the massive upfront costs of next-gen gaming consoles and make gaming more accessible, developers could utilize 5G for something called cloud-based gaming. Yes, accessing games anywhere through cloud services that act much like consoles. …
“(Augmented reality) games, like Pokemon Go, require a ton of bandwidth for the best player experience. Right now, 4G networks struggle to keep up with these dynamic games.” — Devin Pickell, content marketer at G2 Crowd
“The next big thing in tech is advanced geospatial analysis. It is becoming increasingly clear that traditional methods of analysis are insufficiently accurate for measuring the world around us. For years, economists at the UN and the World Bank have been forecasting that 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban centers by 2050. Thanks to geospatial analysis carried out by researchers at the European Commission, this has been proven to be completely inaccurate. Currently, 84 percent of people live in urban areas.
“Asia and Africa were thought to have urban populations of 50 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Thanks to high-resolution satellite imaging, we now know that the actual figures are close to 90 percent and 80 percent, respectively. The implications of this are huge: it affects everything from building design, to infrastructure development and urban planning.” — Stepan Lavrouk, customer engagement officer at Gyana
“I believe that the mass adoption of cryptocurrency payments is one of the next big things to come out of the tech industry. In the last year or two, we’ve seen many merchants begin accepting cryptocurrency payments to enjoy a multitude of benefits that traditional payment methods don’t offer, including the ability to transfer funds quickly and inexpensively, simplified payments, more secure payments, and to gain a competitive edge. Not only are merchants now able to accept payments in crypto online, but in retail settings, as well, through the use of QR codes…
“Consumers will become more comfortable making cryptocurrency transactions on websites they trust, and it’s only a matter of time before they use digital currency in other environments as well, such as in a retail setting.” — Eric Brown, CEO of Aliant Payment Systems
“Bit by bit, the world is seeing blockchain technology for what it really is, and beginning to understand both the possibilities, and the limitations, of what it can do. It has enormous potential to change how we transact and store data, but, much like the internet in the late ’80s, it is still an evolving technology and many of its most useful applications have yet to be discovered. … On the one hand, it’s a fantastically dynamic and creative space, where innovation and opportunity are the order of the day. But on the other, its nascency can be a turnoff for your average consumer, who wants confidence that the technology is watertight, and only wants to interact with a front end that is intuitive and desirable to use.
“Estimates suggest that only around 8 percent of the U.S. population have used blockchain’s most mature real-world application, cryptocurrencies, so we’re clearly some way off reaching mass adoption. This number is growing, and it won’t be long before we’re all interacting everyday with blockchain, and probably cryptocurrencies, too, whether we know it or not.” — Matt Baer, founder and CEO of KeyoCoin
“With all smartphone makers ditching the old-school 3.5mm headphone jack, the future for ‘smart headphones’ has finally been paved. Smart headphones, just like smartwatches and smartphones before them, will integrate processors and connectivity to bring a whole host of new features to consumers. From active noise cancellation that adjust automatically depending on your surrounding to 3-D sound imaging, the possibilities are endless. Big audio companies… are already stepping into this brave new world with Lightning-cable and USB-C cable smart headsets.” — Erik Bowitz, editor at Lightning Cans
“I believe the next really big thing coming out of the tech industry will be smart, naturally integrated devices. When you think of wearable devices nowadays, they are nice-to-have extras which can be fun to own or use. If you’re using Apple’s wireless Bluetooth AirPods, the difference between the iPhone and the Apple Watch isn’t all that much. Nobody thinks of his wearable device as a life-changer, yet.
“What happens when these devices are a much better version of the notorious Google Glass? What happens if they become eye lenses? What happens if you insert certain technological devices directly into your body (surgically or otherwise)? I believe we will be seeing different variations (of this) coming to market in the next five to 10 years—devices that are way smarter than today’s devices with more functionality, but, most importantly, higher level of usability. Devices that can do complex action just based on eye movement, or—even better yet—direct commands from the nervous system.” — Alon Rajic, managing director at Finofin LTD
“The next big thing in tech is going to be all about making things easier—for you, me and everybody. … Smart speakers have proven households are willing to add tech that assists and adds to daily life seamlessly. Based on our research, that incredible come-up will top out at over 50 million U.S. adults in 2018, which is about one-fifth of the adult population.
“I’m most excited about upcoming integrations with Amazon Alexa devices finding their way into things we use every day. We’re already seeing a bevy of announcements covering everything from Bluetooth earbuds to kitchen ovens. The next step will be separating the useful devices from the ones that don’t add anything helpful to daily life. All part of the tech cycle!” — Nicholas Kinports, lonelybrand
Katie Moritz is Rewire’s senior editor and a Pisces who enjoys thrift stores, rock concerts and pho. She covered politics for the daily newspaper in Juneau, Alaska, before driving down to Minnesota to help produce long-standing public affairs show “Almanac” at Twin Cities PBS. Now she edits and writes the articles that appear on Rewire, and works with its pool of freelance journalists. She has also written episodes of PBS Digital Studios series “Sound Field” and “America From Scratch.” She’s the host of the history webseries “30-Second Minnesota,” which was nominated for an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award. Reach her via email at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.