Tech Trends That Will Define 2017

No one can predict how the future will shake out, but global design and strategy firm Frog is making some educated guesses for 2017.

Last year, the firm correctly predicted that virtual reality would explode in popularity and that sensors in things like appliances and thermometers would continue to shrink in size.

Buildings will harness the powers of nature.
Around the world, large companies are leading the way in building solar-powered offices that don’t rely on fossil fuels. Frog strategist Agnes Pyrchla expects the trend to continue in 2017. “Taking a nod from natural patterns,” she writes, “material scientists and architects have developed bricks with bacteria, made cement that captures carbon dioxide and created building cooling systems using nothing but the available wind and our vibrant sun.”

Business bots are going to be huge.
In the way the communication app Slack has merged bots into its chat service, frog strategist Toshi Mogi believes entrepreneurs will use artificial intelligence to handle the logistics of running a business. “The entrepreneur will commission an assortment of business bots to bring their vision to reality,” Mogi says.
He uses the example of selling high-tech skateboards.  A research and development bot might automatically solicit designs from freelancers, while a sales and marketing bot polishes the online e-commerce platform — all to help the business owner work faster and more precisely.

Synthetic food will be in every grocery store.
Designer Andrea Markdalen sees two big changes in store for food. The first is that plant-based proteins will gain popularity as a replacement for slaughtering live animals. The second is that tissues drawn painlessly from live animals will be engineered to create synthetic, lab-grown food. “In 2017, we’ll see a broad range of new plant-based meat replacements at your local grocery store,” Markdalen writes. “They will extend well beyond the vegan aisle, where most are currently relegated, and they will taste better than ever.”

Virtual reality will take over sporting events and concerts.
Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a Kanye West concert in 2017, Piet Aukeman and Sonny King say virtual reality will finally make its mark in home entertainment. Venues will be able to livestream entire shows for people who want to watch without leaving their living room. NextVR is already partnering with Live Nation to make the setup a (non-virtual) reality. “For those consumers that lack the VR hardware,” they write, “the community can provide ‘VR Stations’ in malls, transportation terminals, and open spaces.”

Sensors in important spaces could save us lots of headaches.
All types of rooms — living rooms, retail floors, hospital bays — will come embedded with sensors, say Chad Lundberg and Jud Holliday. These sensors will pick up information on usage patterns at different times of day, in different noise environments and in different temperatures. Companies like Vivint already produce security systems that work in a similar way. Vivint’s Smart Home technology bundles security cameras with locks and thermostats, allowing it to both keep people safe and know when to save energy.
“Spaces will no longer simply house and support your activities,” Lundberg and Holliday write. “They will participate.”

Autonomous vehicles will get a whole lot smarter.
With Tesla and Uber both vying to break into (really, create) the driverless car industry, frog creative director Matt Conway thinks we’re not far from autonomous vehicles saving us from ourselves. With the right technology, multiple cars could “talk” to one another and reduce the chance for crashes. An emergency maneuver like running a red light to avoid getting rear-ended “might seem reckless if it was taken by a human,” Conway says, but because autonomous cars could work together, that measure could be  “as reasonable and life-preserving as any taken by a professional body guard.”

Virtual reality will be used as part of therapy.
VR as therapy is something of a repeat from frog’s 2016 list; only this year, the company expects it will become so immersive that it could rewire people’s brains. There is already research that shows VR can help people overcome their fears and PTSD. Designer Kyle Wolf suspects the technology move into rehab for physical brain injuries as well. “Mindmaze, a pioneer in this space, is already creating virtual environments for stroke patients,” Wolf says, “causing their brains to re-wire themselves and re-establish mobility in forgotten limbs.”

Doctors will have huge data sets to make medicine more precise.
Precision medicine — the practice of tailoring treatments to each patient’s unique case — is incredibly hard. It takes fine-toothed data that most hospitals simply don’t have. In the future, as medical records become entirely digitized and uniform between facilities, strategy director Allison Green-Schoop believes precision medicine will only improve. Doctors will be able to look up much more local data, such as water quality in your zip code, to gain insight into a disease’s source, not just its symptoms.

Sounds will hold our attention like never before.
For the last 30 years, humans have interacted with their technology through screens, which rely primarily on imagery and visual cues. But creative director Christine Todorovich sees a future in which sounds start playing a much larger role. Instead of controlling your cooking device by manually selection options in an iPad app, you might be able to articulate commands openly in your kitchen. Companies like Here One already try to help people personalize their sonic experiences. “The combination of screen fatigue and technology embedded in everything from cars to homes, is exposing a need for new types of interfaces that extend beyond the visual,” Todorovich says.

Drones will assist in humanitarian work.
Drones are great for much more than stylized movie shots. Designer Lilian Tse cites efforts in Rwanda, where a drone airport facilitates medical deliveries to people in need, as clear evidence that humanitarian aid is their best use. “The definition of a drone is ‘unmanned aircraft,'” she writes, “but behind the unmanned aircraft is a person driving the intention and potential of what the aircraft can do for people in need.”
This year, Tse says we’ll see more people move into that service.

Machine learning will teach us about ourselves.
When Google’s robot, AlphaGo, beat a human player in the ancient Chinese game Go, artificial intelligence experts cheered. It was a giant leap forward in the field of machine learning. But frog senior strategist Rebecca Blum says AlphaGo also taught expert Go players how to play the game better. They learned from the machine’s own learning. According to Blum, machines can help us understand ourselves in a variety of ways. Algorithms that automatically write prose might teach us about creating writing. Scientists could continue learning about the brain based on how complex neural networks store new information.

A Peek at the Not Distant Future

Welcome to tomorrow.

Posting on, Dr. Robert Goldman, M.D., PhD., offers some exciting and sometimes frightening insight into what lies ahead for mankind.

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that three years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and went mainstream in only a few years.

Now the same thing is happening with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. AirBnB is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers are becoming exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t have jobs. You can get legal advice (more or less basic stuff) from IBM Watson within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.

Watson already helps nurses diagnose cancer, four times more accurately than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Automatic cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. They will be mainstream just two years later. Around 2020, the complete automobile industry will start to be disrupted. You won’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s licence and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. Each year 1.2 million people die in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000km (62,000 miles), with autopilot driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km (6.2 million miles). That will save a million lives each year.

Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electricity, which will become incredibly cheap and clean.

Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will try the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. A lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi are terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.

Real estate business is bound to change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away from their job sites.

Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy stations were installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar energy will drop so much that all coal companies will be defunct by 2025.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Learn much more about tomorrow at: