Over the next five years, we’re likely to see significant changes in fields such as artificial intelligence, space exploration, combinations of augmented and mixed reality, and quantum computing, says futurist James Canton.
- Advancements in artificial intelligence can be particularly impactful when it comes to healthcare.
- Many large tech companies like Google and Facebook , among others, have been establishing strong presences in these fields, although Canton believes we’ll see promising newcomers that can challenge these incumbents.
In the not too distant future, your next checkup could be conducted by a virtual doctor. And your smartphone will not only have access to digital assistants like Alexa and Siri, but also vastly intelligent artificial intelligence systems that are capable of doing much more than reciting the weather or fetching answers to questions.
That’s according to Dr. James Canton, CEO and chairman of the Institute for Global Futures , a San Francisco-based think tank that advises clients on upcoming business and technology trends.
For years, large tech firms like Facebook and Google have been emphasizing the impact that emerging fields like AI and augmented reality could have on our everyday lives. But because these technologies are still in their early stages, it can be difficult to appreciate how significant they will really be.
That’s where Canton comes in.
In an interview with Business Insider, he described how our lives will change over the next five years as a result of advances in several important technologies.
“There’s so much more innovation that’s available than people are capable of embracing,” Canton said. “So there’s always a lag between the innovation breakthroughs and the actual application in the marketplace.”
Reality will be a “blend” of the physical environment and data streams
Artificial intelligence technology is advancing very rapidly and is going to fundamentally change how we get our healthcare, with virtual doctors and AI-powered diagnostics on the horizon, Canton said.
“We came out of the AI winter,” he said, referring to a period when AI tech fell out of favor within the industry. Canton attributes today’s AI renaissance to advances in how computers can learn such as reinforced machine learning and the abundance of data now available for machines to learn from. Innovations like 3D-printed organs will also have a big impact on healthcare by boosting lifespans, he said.
The AI sector is set to grow financially in the coming years too. Market research firm Gartner predicts that the global business value derived from artificial intelligence could hit $3.9 trillion in 2022.
Another area that’s likely to boom in the coming years is what Canton calls “blended reality,” which is a convergence of augmented reality, virtual reality, and telepresence. This type of technology would make it possible to view digital information in the real world without having to wear glasses or rely on your smartphone, Canton says. “This will be instantaneous,” he said. “Those cumbersome things will disappear, and you’ll be able to moderate how much [digital information] you want.”
Hundreds of startups going to space
The new space race, which involves nations around the globe as well as billionaire-backed private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, will also be a catalyst of change over the next five years potentially resulting in a new startup scene.
“You’re going to have hundreds of companies around the world that are going to compete for everything from lunar landers to terraforming Mars,” Canton said.
The emergence of supercomputers
Quantum computing is another game-changer, with the ability to process data at blazing fast speeds. That’s because while today’s computer’s use bits in the form of binary 0s and 1s, quantum computers operate through quantum bits.
These so-called “qbits” are particles that are capable of representing numerous combinations of 0s and 1s, as MIT Technology Review explains. Quantum computing can be especially critical when it comes to enhancing cybersecurity, since it will enable us to “encrypt smarter,” says Canton.
New players could challenge the dominance of today’s tech giants
Many of today’s largest tech firms have already been dipping their toes into parts of these fields. Facebook sells virtual reality products under its Oculus brand, while Apple offers tools for developers to create augmented reality iPhone apps and Microsoft sells its Hololens mixed reality headset. Both IBM and Google have also been conducting research in quantum computing.
But it’s too soon to know who will emerge as the industry leader in these platforms, or if it will even end up being one of these high-profile tech firms at all.
“So it doesn’t necessarily mean that today’s tech giants are necessarily going to be the leaders of tomorrow,” Canton said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of new players that come into the game that understand blended reality, understand telepresence, virtual reality, all of that, and can come in and displace folks.”
The first HarmonyOS-powered phone from Huawei to arrive in 2021
Huawei’s HarmonyOS was unveiled last year during the Huawei Developer Conference and there’s a report claiming that this year’s conference on September 10 will bring the HarmonyOS 2.0. Interestingly, the rumor cites Richard Yu himself, the company’s CEO. And the first phone with the in-house operating system will launch as early as next year.
A smartphone running the said OS already exists and will likely hit the market next year along with a number of new devices including PCs, tablets, smart wearables and other IoT products. In fact, the first smartwatch running HarmonyOS is expected to make a debut until the end of this year.
iPhone XR will reportedly be replaced by iPhone 12s in Q2 2021
Previously, conflicting information had emerged about iPhone XR’s future. We now seemingly know when it will be discontinued and which phone will replace it.
The iPhone 12s will supposedly be LTE-only
Samsung, LG experiment with virtual demo rooms of the future amid IFA conference
Tech events so far this year have made something clear — it’s not tough for giants like Apple and Samsung to go all-virtual with their launches. But one aspect of a typical tech event doesn’t translate to a computer or phones screen: the demo room. Samsung thinks it’s found a possible solution.
The company on Wednesday hosted a virtual Life Unstoppable event that coincided with the IFA electronics show in Berlin. It wasn’t a typical press conference like the company’s two Unpacked events held over the past month. Instead, Samsung used Epic’s Unreal Engine for games to build a virtual, 3D tour experience — a sort of choose-your-own adventure digital demo — for the media and its partners.
“Would we have done it if COVID wasn’t around? I’m not sure,” Benjamin Braun, Samsung’s head of marketing for Europe, said in an interview. “That is a different way of presenting new products that no one’s done before.”
The novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 25 million people around the globe, has caused companies to rethink their product launches. GSMA canceled Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile show, a week before journalists arrived in Barcelona in late February. Instead of phone launches over the past several months, Apple, Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus all held digital events or introduced devices via press release.
IFA, taking place in Berlin from Sept. 3 to 5, is the only big tech conference with an in-person component this year. But only 5,000 people can attend, far below last year’s level of 200,000. While Samsung isn’t attending IFA, it’s still hosting events, like Life Unstoppable, that coincide with the shortened convention.
Samsung’s virtual house
Participants of Life Unstoppable will navigate around a digital house that contains about two dozen different Samsung devices, ranging from its $3,500 waterproof, outdoor Terrace TV to its updated Galaxy Z Fold 2 foldable phone. The visit revolves around a 45-minute guided tour, but participants are able to branch off on their own to look at the back ports of a TV or circle back to the kitchen to check out the appliances.
Samsung noted that “every detail,” from the home’s artwork to the furniture’s fabric, “was carefully selected following meticulous research into the type of guests that would be visiting Samsung House, resulting in a truly immersive home environment.”
There’s also an augmented reality component that lets people see what the new products, like TVs, will look like in their own homes. And Samsung noted that immersive 8D audio makes visitors feel like they’re really in the home
During Life Unstoppable, Samsung unveiled a host of new products, ranging from a smart video projector called The Premiere to its Wireless Charging Trio pad that can charge a phone, watch and earbuds at the same time. Samsung also introduced a new fitness band, the Galaxy Fit 2; a low-priced 5G smartphone, the Galaxy A42 5G; and the budget Galaxy Tab A7 tablet.
While Samsung determined Life Unstoppable was the best format for IFA, Braun said, it may go a different route with CES and other trade shows.
“We constantly need to force evolution, force innovation, not only in our products but also in the way we present ourselves,” Braun said. “At some point, once COVID is under control and we’re back to potentially physical [events], then we need to rethink them as well. How do we merge the two?”
LG’s ‘virtual exhibition’ and IFA’s ‘Xtended Space’
Samsung isn’t the only company trying to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation by creating a virtual experience for regular show attendees to enjoy in lieu of IFA this year.
On Tuesday, LG launched its IFA “virtual exhibition,” demonstrating its latest product lineups within a realistic rendering of its usual IFA home — the Berlin Messe’s Hall 18.
First impressions show this to be an improvement to the usual in-person experience. No longer must you spend upwards of 30 minutes attempting to navigate the labyrinthine convention center with its many entrances and exits to reach the LG booth, and gone are the hordes of people that usually delay your journey even further.
But as you click through the virtual exhibition, you start to remember why attending these shows in person was important in the first place.
The cinema screening room in which you are supposed to be able to enjoy the deep blacks of LG’s latest screen technology doesn’t have quite the same impact when you’re viewing it through your own laptop or phone screen. The same is true when testing the sound quality of LG’s speakers and headphones in its virtual audio booth.
It’s hard to say how cool and effective LG’s rollable TV is without being able to examine it from all angles. Maybe it would help if you could navigate the exhibition in VR, which would allow for a more immersive, less static experience. Samsung said its Life Unstoppable home could be viewed in VR, but it was mostly designed for PCs, phones or tablets.
While LG and Samsung are offering their own takes on the virtual trade show, the wider event is also going online this year via a digital platform it’s calling IFA Xtended Space.
All the new phones, laptops, smart home gadgets and more from IFA 2019
Through an online hub, virtual attendees will be able to join live streams of keynotes, press conferences, panel sessions, presentations and virtual exhibitor presentations and match-making opportunities that will allow them to establish new business contacts. New products will even be presented in 3D, although it remains to be seen how easy it is to form a proper first impression of new tech without being able to touch it or hold it in your hands.
IFA’s organizers acknowledge that this year’s show won’t replicate the experience most regular attendees are accustomed to, but they believe its digital platform will offer something novel to people — whether they’re using it to supplement their in-person visit to the show, or to attend remotely.
“A digital platform can hardly compensate for a true on-site experience,” IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker said Tuesday in a press release. “However, the IFA Xtended Space enables all those who are interested to know even more and those who cannot join the IFA 2020 Special Edition physically in Berlin to have a truly unique virtual experience.”