Each year, as the clock ticks past the New Year, companies reveal their latest gadgets at CES, and popular publications release their predictions on the future of design and technology. Many of these seem like futuristic depictions, full of video calls and flying cars, but looking at technology trends of the past, we’re able to give reasonable predictions to some of the things we’ll see in 2018.
Phones will continue the trend toward larger screens with thinner, smaller bezels. Nothing surprising here, but there will be more of a focus toward battery life and longevity. Device reliability will become a larger factor with new devices. This will cause a change in upgrading habits, and we predict the formerly one-to-two year upgrade cycle will be supplanted by a three-plus year upgrade cycle. New 3D sensors will lure some, but the adoption curve will lengthen as smartphone users, currently at 31% global share, continue to take people from feature phones, which are less technical phones, thought of as being between a smartphone and basic phone.
Augmented Reality (AR)
This will be a big year for augmented reality technology. We began to see the start of this in 2017, but we’ll see more practical examples of what this technology can do. More eCommerce companies will demonstrate their capabilities using software, and other tools like Magic Leap or the sensors developed with Tango will make these experiences easier to develop and simpler to share.
We’ve seen a slow and steady rise in electric car interest, but 2018 will bring a wide array of affordable and exciting electric car options from Tesla’s Model 3, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus, BMW i3, Volkswagen eGolf, Chevrolet Bolt, and others, giving consumers a wide selection of affordable electric car options. While these cars will start to make a bigger impact on gas stations, batteries, and charging tech, in-car entertainment is where we’ll see the biggest changes.
As cars become more electric and self driving, we’ll see a trend of cars turning into both the office and the living room. Expect Echo-like voice controls, in-car video, WiFi and food ordering. The Uber/Lyft trend will also put more focus on the backseat experience that we typically see in minivans and SUVs.
Virtual Reality (VR)
The interest in augmented reality will leave virtual reality as the interesting, but lonely second favorite child. The technology will continue to be fragmented, and while it will see usage and interest increase, it’s unlikely to be the “it” thing for 2018, due to the increase in augmented reality (as mentioned above). The VIVE and Daydream updates will be released, improving quality and lowering price, but without accompanying mobile apps to help position them in the market, they will remain niche products.
Voice will continue to grow in popularity and omnipresence. We’ll start seeing Amazon Echo and Google Assistant experiences in more places, from appliances, and wearables in the home, in cars, and we’ll continue to see experiences in the workplace. The quality of the voice recognition and personalization will improve along with the depth of the custom voice apps.
As the price of a WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chips continue to drop, we’ll see an increase in devices that include home automation as a feature. We’re already seeing this across a number of lights, locks, refrigerators and stoves, but the trend will continue as this technology is simplified for the masses. No one really thinks they need IoT home automation in their toaster, hair dryer or grill until they wonder, “Did I leave that on?”
Keeping Tabs on Trends
The new tech that comes along with the New Year is something that our team always expects. Yet, the excitement never wanes, and we’re intrigued by the possibilities that new technologies bring to the table.