Tech Trends 2018

The New Year looks promis­ing with AI be­com­ing more main­stream and aug­mented re­al­ity mak­ing a come­back

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - BY NIDHI SINGAL

Last year, Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (AI) and ma­chine learn­ing were the buzz­words in the tech world. This year, tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies are ex­pected to take it a notch higher. We will wit­ness the im­ple­men­ta­tion of AI in the form of vir­tual com­pan­ions, voice-con­trolled home ap­pli­ances and next gen­er­a­tion smart­phones. On the hard­ware front, the much-awaited un­der-dis­play fin­ger­print scan­ner will ar­rive. Aug­mented re­al­ity will make a big come­back with ma­jor play­ers open­ing AR de­vel­op­ment kits to de­vel­op­ers, al­low­ing them to come up with in­no­va­tive AR apps. Here is a look at the top tech­nol­ogy trends in the con­sumer space.

Voice as­sis­tant: For long, the job de­scrip­tion of voice as­sis­tants has been rather mun­dane – fetch­ing in­for­ma­tion or launch­ing an app on smart­phones. Then they were equipped to make our lives eas­ier

through smart speak­ers. The year 2018 will see voice as­sis­tants be­come an im­por­tant part of our home, in the form of voice-en­abled home ap­pli­ances. Mov­ing be­yond con­nected ap­pli­ances that can be op­er­ated us­ing an app, man­u­fac­tur­ers are look­ing at in­cor­po­rat­ing mi­cro­phone and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion on the cloud for the ap­pli­ance to re­spond to a voice com­mand. Imag­ine this: if your child ac­ci­den­tally spills milk on the floor, in­stead of pick­ing up the mop, you can com­mand the vac­uum cleaner to clean the mess.

Al­though the op­tions for voice­con­trolled ap­pli­ances are lim­ited cur­rently – wash­ing ma­chines, air con­di­tion­ers, vac­uum clean­ers and dish­wash­ers from com­pa­nies such as Candy Blanca, LG, iRobot, Hoover, GE Ap­pli­ances and Whirlpool, to name a few – many more prod­ucts are ex­pected to launch soon. This year, con­sumers can look for­ward to voice-con­trolled garage doors, win­dow blinds, cof­fee ma­chines, pre­ci­sion cook­ing de­vices, among other prod­ucts. Sam­sung has an­nounced that it will launch voice recog­ni­tion ca­pa­bil­ity for its Fam­ily Hub re­frig­er­a­tors and, by 2020, in­cor­po­rate smart fea­tures into all its ap­pli­ances.

Most ap­pli­ances to­day sup­port Ama­zon Alexa, many oth­ers sup­port Google Home and Ap­ple HomeKit. Man­u­fac­tur­ers will have to choose which of these lead­ing voice as­sis­tants to sup­port when launch­ing smart ap­pli­ances.

Vir­tual Com­pan­ion: An ex­ten­sion to voice as­sis­tants, a vir­tual com­pan­ion could be in the form of a robot or an app. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are try­ing to make a vir­tual (al­most hu­man) com­pan­ion that hu­mans can in­ter­act with, just like they would with a friend. The vir­tual com­pan­ion could take any form – a spouse wait­ing for you to re­turn home, a nurse that can take care of the elderly or an app that can en­ter­tain you.

Ja­panese re­search lab Gate­box Inc. hopes to cre­ate a world in which peo­ple can live to­gether with vir­tual char­ac­ters. Its first project Gate­box has a holo­graphic home as­sis­tant named Azuma Hikari, equipped with a screen and a pro­jec­tor with mi­cro­phone, cam­era and sen­sors to de­tect tem­per­a­ture and mo­tion. The sen­sor helps Hikari to recog­nise faces and voices, and in­ter­act with the owner on a per­sonal level and send mes­sages when he/she is away. Those who find en­ter­ing an empty house de­press­ing, Hikari’s warm wel­comes are a good idea. Care Coach is an­other com­pany fo­cussing on pa­tient sup­port ecosys­tem. Us­ing

avatars, pa­tients are of­fered care re­minders, ther­a­peu­tic engagement, and safety su­per­vi­sion in an en­gag­ing and fun way. Sev­eral start-ups are work­ing on creat­ing such vir­tual com­pan­ions.

Un­der-dis­play Fin­ger­print Scan­ner: Sy­nap­tics is ex­pected to un­veil a new tech­nol­ogy, called Clear ID, at the CES 2018 to be held in Las Ve­gas. De­signed for smart­phones with in­fin­ity dis­play or bezel-less screens, Clear ID in-dis­play fin­ger­print sen­sors work the same way as the home but­ton fin­ger­print sen­sor, ex­cept they can be ac­ti­vated by ac­tu­ally press­ing on the dis­play part of the touch­screen. The com­pany has just an­nounced plans to mass-pro­duce the op­ti­cal in-dis­play fin­ger­print sen­sor and is al­ready work­ing with five OEMs. Re­ports sug­gest that Sam­sung, too, has ap­plied for a new pa­tent ap­pli­ca­tion for an in-dis­play fin­ger­print scan­ner which will be first in­cor­po­rated in the Galaxy S9 launch­ing early this year.

Big­ger Bat­ter­ies: The fo­cus will, yet again, be on mo­bile com­put­ing as lap­tops and con­vert­ibles will of­fer big­ger bat­ter­ies that can last a day or more. Many new con­vert­ibles will be pow­ered by Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon 835 chip, which, along with power, will of­fer 20 hours of bat­tery back-up. LG’s Gram lap­tops will come with a full-day bat­tery life. Sam­sung has also up­dated its Ul­tra­book Se­ries 9 with big­ger bat­ter­ies.

AI Fer­vour: Brace up for su­per-smart phones as man­u­fac­tur­ers in­cor­po­rate AI in chipsets. Not only will they re­spond to our queries, but will au­to­mat­i­cally sug­gest apps based on our us­age. Smart­phones will be able to hide no­ti­fi­ca­tions un­til the time you look at the screen, pre­vent­ing your data from pry­ing eyes, and will au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just the cam­era set­tings based on the en­vi­ron­ment. AI-pow­ered chipsets can even show real-time lan­guage trans­la­tions when in off­line mode. By learn­ing the us­age pat­terns, smart­phones will be able pre-empt and pri­ori­tise ac­tiv­i­ties for the user.

Video: The depth ef­fect was all the rage in 2017, thanks to dual-cam­era smart­phones. Mov­ing on, video will be the next big thing. With trac­tion on video con­tent in­creas­ing rapidly, smart­phones, drones and ac­tion cam­eras have been im­prov­ing their video capturing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The new flag­ship smart­phones will be able to cap­ture pre­mium qual­ity, high-def­i­ni­tion videos; and app stores will brim with video edit­ing apps that of­fer easy-to-use pro­fes­sional tools. 4k TVs will fi­nally find rel­e­vance (they have ex­isted for over half a decade) as 4k con­tent be­comes more eas­ily avail­able. Stream­ing de­vices such as Ap­ple 4k TV, Chrome­cast Ultra and FireTV, too, will be­come much sought-af­ter.

aug­mented a re­al­ity: While vir­tual re­al­ity made hay – given its ease of im­ple­men­ta­tion – aug- aug mented re­al­ity (AR) got side­lined. This promis­ing tech­nol­ogy is about to get a facelift with Ap­ple and Google fo- fo cussing on AR in a big way this year. Thanks to Ap­ple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, de­vel­op­ers have started mak­ing games, ed­u­ca­tional and in­ter­ac­tive apps, shop­ping apps and med­i­cal apps, util­is­ing the power of AR. The ap­pli­ca­tion of the tech- tech nol­ogy will go be­yond gam­ing and en­ter­tain- en­ter­tain ment, to ar­eas such as re­tail, science and edu- edu cation. For in­stance, IKEA has come up with an AR app to help peo­ple de­sign their homes. Peo­ple will be able to have a more im­mer­sive shop­ping experience us­ing the AR app, elim­i­nat­ing the need to visit a store.

Google Home speaker and voice as­sis­tant can play mu­sic, make calls, and con­trol your home

Ap­ple Arkit is a plat­form for de­vel­o­pors to cre­ate im­mer­sive and en­gag­ing aug­mented re­al­ity apps

Asus no­vaGo is a 2-in-1 Win­dows 10 lap­top pow­ered by a smart­phone chip that prom­ises all­day bat­tery life

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