Technology today is evolving at an exponential rate and progress is happening faster than ever, changing our lives for the better. With this rapid growth, it can prove difficult to keep up with what tomorrow's big advances will be and when they will become mainstream. There are many global technology trends, many of which fall under big headings such as data explosion, climate change, electrification, industry 4.0, digital twin and urbanisation, to name a few.
Below is a list of eight key emerging trends and technologies we think are worthwhile keeping an eye on.
Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience that incorporates three basic features - the blending of virtual and real worlds, real-time interaction, and 3D registration of both virtual and real objects. The use of augmented reality is growing across many industries, including gaming, fitness, education, industrial manufacturing, and many more.
In our technologies sector, it is used for global collaboration of teams, along with the use of AR glasses and real-time online platforms in the factory. The Chinese product development and testing teams use it to work on products, conduct testing, production equipment, etc. It can also help our maintenance team get remote support. One person can be working at a machine wearing AR glasses, while another specialist provides support via AR.
We could soon be virtually visiting suppliers, and then giving customers the opportunity to collaborate in that space too. It could also be an important UI for the company's products and services.
Along with the consumer use of virtual reality (VR) in areas such as sport, education, medical and gaming, it continues to play an important role in industrial applications, a virtual space for product development and virtual testing of products and services.
Another application where the technology is being used is in the VR fitness industry, with more offerings appearing from Nintendo Switch to Oculus and even to dedicated fitness studios based on VR platforms.
Drive systems that are precise and reliable are needed to power robots and make them move and function correctly. There are substantial amounts of data that needs to be communicated between the robots and the cloud. Sensors and data from the drives makes them smart and interactive.
There is an endless amount of domestic and industrial applications that these can be used for today, and we can expect to see many more coming soon.
IoT/Internet of Everything
With the number of connected devices projected to rise to some 500 billion by 2030, it's not hard to see that this technology is growing exponentially in everything from appliances, cars, bikes and phones to wearables and even implants in human bodies. The Internet of Things can provide users and consumers with access to accurate data and allows them to tailor applications to specific needs. Products can be updated easily or upgraded when required. Industries today are seeing unprecedented process transparency, enabling synchronization and optimisation not seen before. This is seen from industrial factories through to global supply chains and everything in between.
Read our article about integrating IoT into your product/service here>>
Drones have become a familiar sight and we have all seen stunning photos posted online, or perhaps that perfect aerial shot captured for a real estate listing. We can expect to see them used for endless other applications, such as disaster team support, crop dusting, underwater discovery, industry inspection, small goods delivery, last mile transportation and high-rise window cleaning. Also, the use of nano drones for tasks like in-body drug delivery. There are of course benefits from the outset, such as not having to accommodate a human on board, and smart drones also may not require remote control, making an even better proposition for many applications.
All these examples are very different and will have their own specific requirements, but they are all highly complex systems integrating sensors, propulsion, actuators, communication and HMI's.
One of the most advanced digital technologies in the present time, Blockchain has been a conduit for driving change across many different sectors. Much more than the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies, as it evolves, trends pointing towards the use of NFT's and digital currencies are prospering, and the potential for its use growing to include database security, smart contracts, protection against identity theft, and countless other uses that can add value to people's lives when built into the business model correctly.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Although AI has been around for some time, particularly in image and speech recognition, device personal assistants, etc., it is still seen as a new technology trend. We can expect to see huge growth in AI as it is used in many new areas such as monitoring the changing patterns of customer behaviour to enhance more personalised experiences, autonomous driving technology and applied natural language processing.
3D printing is a great example of a technology trend that is growing and improving constantly. 3D printing of plastic prototypes is commonplace in many industries. As it improves, the number of plastic materials available is growing, and the accuracy of the printers is improving too. Machine learning algorithms can design parts and the resulting structures can be hugely different from traditional designs.
In our sector it is possible to produce 3D printed gears and other gearbox parts, along with metal parts, which can be printed and used immediately. With advancements in geometries and the design freedom it provides, 3D printing is starting to be used for production processes at scale.