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5 tech trends that will actually matter in 2018

(TECH NEWS) Get to know which tech trends will dominate in 2018, and which are still out of reach.

amazon alexa ai

If San Diego Comic-Con is Nerd Prom, CES (that’s Consumer Electronics Expo for the non-nerds in the audience) is sort of Tech Monkey Homecoming. The big names bring big gadgets, put on shows, get spiffed up to maximum shiny, and everybody else makes frankly catty judgments about who’s in and so, so out.

Including us! Unlike Homecoming, CES matters. What blows up and falls down there will decide what is or isn’t running your life in a year. In that spirit, we won’t be electing Kings and Queens (we’re strictly pro-democracy, thank you) but here are five tech trends and takeaways to keep in mind for 2018 in tech.

1. Alexa Rises!

In the never-ending Cold-Yet-Personable-War between Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Assistant (Where’s Google Assistant’s subtly sinister a human name? Doesn’t it deserve one? Somebody start a petition) the House of Bezos is pulling ahead.

CES showed widespread adoption of Amazon’s AI assistant. Google still has an active maker community and Microsoft and Apple still have their bundled devices, but among third-party manufacturers Alexa is, at least for the moment, the voice of choice.

2. Robots Don’t Work Yet!

With the runaway success of AI applications, it’s no surprise worthy geeks are taking the next bold step into Canonical Sci-fi Future and trying to sell us adorable in-home robots. And real talk, Sony’s new Aibo is pretty cute.

Thing is, the Aibo’s only cute because it’s not trying to do anything. Sure, LG’s admittedly very Jetsons Cloi house manager-bot BSOD’d onstage, much to the amusement of the Internet, but glitches happen. The bigger problem is that when it comes to household robots, the vast majority are solutions in search of problems. We’re talking dropping Benjamins to automate the 45 seconds it takes to fill the dog bowl or fold laundry.

That’s some nonsense, whether it works or not. I could make a case for accessibility for people with disabilities, but, no. When you’re selling a $150 dog bowl, “accessible” is not a word you get to use. Short a major price change and/or a serious reassessment of how these tools work and for whom, tech just isn’t ready to run your house for you. At least that means there still won’t be a robot apocalypse.

3. Screen All The Things!

We called this one! Behold our prophetic powers of remembering sometimes people lose their phones. As linked, Amazon committed to a Home Assistant with a touchscreen and a charmingly retro integral speaker.

Google brought out their own, because there is some tense tsundere action between Amazon and Google. Lenovo, LG and Sony will be bringing out Google enabled-versions with a similar form factor.

4. Self-Driving Cars, Sooner Rather than Later!

And it’s about flipping time. CES didn’t host much in the way of new announcements on the self-driving car front, but several companies made it clear they view large-scale adoption no longer as an “if” but a “when.” Nvidia’s CEO predicted autonomous taxis by 2019, and consumer adoption not long afterward. Ford also previewed several innovations intended for autonomous driving.

5. VR Is Finding Itself!

Despite lagging sales, CES showed companies were still committed to the VR paradigm. HTC showcased its improved Vive Pro, with better image quality and badly needed wireless connectivity, making it possible to use the thing without having your head stapled to a wall. Google and Lenovo also showed off their standalone Mirage Solo, which matches smartphone VR quality without requiring an actual phone. Improvements in VR interface and recording were also on display.

In addition to improved accessibility, companies at CES showed a greater range of what VR tech could do. In particular, people are getting excited about augmented reality (we were already excited about augmented reality.) Cameras and even haptic interfaces were on display, ready to digitally interpret and assist your workflow. It’s a big deal.

Written By

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.


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