It seems like the creators of innovative technology are always promising that the next great thing has arrived, and how it’s likely to disrupt industries, society, and the world. Somehow, though, innovations as transformational as the web only really come along once in a generation. Then the real work starts. Developers and innovators have been busily carving out empires on the new frontier, and these digital fiefdoms are now well established.
While less capital may be flowing into new big-idea start-ups, investors will be nurturing and bringing up their babies. In many ways, 2019 may be the most innovative year since Facebook brought status updates to the masses in 2006.
The web’s impact on the planet has been so profound that it is hard to remember what life was like before it existed. Because its impact has been so incredible, it seems somewhat bizarre to realize that the world-changing platforms where we all come together are still actually in their nascent stage.
Cybersecurity – This critical topic has been a central theme at the National Governors Associations winter session, as states and municipalities begin to grapple with the threat posed by cybercrime and sabotage. Securing critical infrastructure while protecting assets and vital systems will be a priority throughout 2019.
Holography – The end goal of all virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) is to integrate smoothly into the real world. In a recent interview, award-winning technologist Drayton Florence had this to say about VR. “We see a peaked interest in the Northeast Florida marketplace, and our goal is to help business owners understand the importance and usefulness of VR.” VR is paving the way for the mass adoption of AR. Just as Pokemon Go made AR profitable, the Microsoft Hololens is on its way to making 3D holograms practical. Their recent demonstrations of holographic versions of games like Portal and Minecraft are only the beginning.
Augmented Reality – The virtual world and the real world are beginning to come together in a lot of exciting ways. As hardware like Snapchat Spectacles introduces the virtual to the actual, life will become increasingly interactive and layered. Developers and designers will work together to build this world on established platforms, transforming the way we experience virtually every facet of life.
Battery – The better the apps get, the faster your battery drains. A mobile device that runs out on the road can derail a significant transaction or sour a delicate relationship. One of the most unusual solutions to this pain point comes from a very unexpected source – the Walt Disney corporation. Disney has an interest far removed from its core business of animation. One of them is the supercalifragilistically unpronounceable innovation named “Quasistatic Cavity Resonance for Ubiquitous Wireless Power Transfer.” Mostly, it’s a room that charges everything inside it. They can even scale it up to a building the size of a warehouse. Solving the battery problem is vital for the entire mobile ecosystem, and 2019 will handsomely reward innovators who can bring elegant, scalable solutions to market.
Food & Water – Hungry? Download a burger. 3D printers have been perfecting the art of making plastic prototypes, but they came a step closer to becoming “matter compilers” this year. Columbia University scientists and professionals chefs are working together to make food that can be printed at home. Pop in the right food cartridge, and you can have your personalized gourmet meals, crafted for maximum flavor and health benefits. In addition to innovations like this, ways to bring food and clean water resources into communities in need will be in favor as the world population ticks upward to 8 billion. Look also for vastly improved crop yields with developing world staples like rice and yams this year, taking a huge step toward ending world hunger.
Voice Everything – After many years of clicking, beeping, dinging and tapping, people are going to start talking again–to their computers and the AI that will increasingly function as a new interface. As people and computers communicate more via the spoken word, a whole new ecosystem of enabled devices and attendant software will come to the fore.
Some of these innovations have been in the works for years, but 2019 is the year they will get real. It’s an exciting time for everything tech and the future of our planet.