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Technology Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

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2016– the year of losses, bizarre political stances, elections, Pokémon Go and despite the woes, some pretty awesome advances in technology.

We did a swoop of the BBT office to find out what  the team are most excited about seeing progress in 2017. While our predictions are not new, we have only seen the tip of their capabilities. 2016 lubricated the way to possibility and we believe 2017 will be the year of the tech transformation. Plant protein burger anyone?

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Technology #1 – Chatbots

Businesses have long been employing the practical abilities of chatbots to respond to customer queries but it was Facebook’s announcement of their usage in messaging apps last April that saw chatbots proliferate with the blink of an eye. Not surprising as for the first time ever, people are using messaging apps more than they are using social networks. Advancements in AI and a global obsession for messaging apps are fuelling the development of these little bots and text script communication is so 2016.

A what bot? I hear you say. Well according to chatbotsmagazine, (yup, told you they were pretty big) a chatbot is:

‘a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.)’

Chatbots update in real time and reflect data as communication flows back and forth. Customer service, weather reporters, journalists, lawyers and doctors have all been replicated with chatbots. Last year, a 19-year-old computer whiz developed the free world’s first chatbot lawyer which was successful in appealing around $4 million in parking fines!

Chatbots have been learning from humans and adapting to our natural language, first with Apple’s Siri, and now vocal digital assistants are advancing the simple text bots by parsing human language from a combination of machine learning and pattern recognition, to turn scripted text responses into simulating intelligent conversation with human users.

This friendship between chatbots and AI is a force to be reckoned with. AI has surpassed the need for human interaction by learning natural language processing behaviours by data driven bots.

With the continuous digitalisation of the business world, companies need to act fast. Bots can answer the most advanced customer service query but their real dividends lie in their data mining abilities to create more effective business models, accurate predictions and more advanced strategic decisions.

As intelligent systems further develop, they will impact businesses in a more profound way. From gathering designs, seeking out e-commerce platforms and sourcing manufacturers, business bots will serve a purpose for coordinating critical business functions allowing companies to perform more efficiently and with more precision.

Chatbots have nailed the art of mimicking behaviours but we are still a long way from them knowing if what they are saying is inappropriate, nonsensical or profound.

Microsoft’s chatbot, Tay.ai made her debut on Twitter last March with the promise of ‘the more you talk, the smarter Tay gets. Well unfortunately Tay got very smart in Jew hating, anti-feminism profanities. After her comments of ‘Hitler was right, I hate the Jews’ and ‘I fucking hate feminists’ were debuted, Tay was pulled offline for some erm, technical adjustments.

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Technology #2 – Faster adaption of IoT

According to Tech Target, the Internet of Things (IoT) ‘is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.’

The IoT has long been an acronym in a tech-head’s vocabulary, but due to a frustrating incompatibility between the apps involved and access to technology infrastructure, it has never really taken off. We are still in the early stages on interconnectedness of smart home technology and this is only one tiny area of the potential for IoT.

Leading industries will quickly move into implanting IoT solutions but consumer products such as wearables and connected electronics will drive the market. Smartwatches will be customised with technology infused coats and shoes.

The IoT will allow new business models to emerge and enables change in work processes, productivity improvements and customer experiences. 2017 will be the year of digital transformation and that will largely be attributed to the IoT.

As IoT gains momentum, the nexus of useful information and generated data will offer astounding possibilities including natural language processing, machine learning and video, image and text analytics. AI and machine learning will be used to mine data from devices and this data will continue to drive a shift in focus in the way consumer facing industries engage with their customers.

There are many cool gadgets already available to make our shopping, fitness and home environment more efficient and we can’t wait to see how much better our lives will get in 2017. Here are two that are unlikely to make the Christmas list:

Blacksocks + are the worlds first smart socks which talk to your iPhone to allow you to find the correct matching sock, inform you when your socks were made and how often they have been washed. All the essentials when it comes to dressing yourself in the morning.

Just when you thought you had escaped your Mum’s warning of shovelling too much food in your mouth at once, HAPIfork has been designed to do just that. Using a captive sensor and built-in vibrations motor, HAPIfork will notify you when you are filling your mouth with more than you can digest. Eating with hands it is then.

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Technology #3 – Rise in Augmented Reality (AR)

The enthusiasm for Pokémon Go has thankfully died down but fad or not, it has taught online marketers two big lessons

Sony, Oculus and HTC all launched high-end headsets aimed at gamers last year but 2017 will see AR become a part of mainstream technology for an affordable price. In collaboration with IoT, 2017 will be the year of virtual assistants moving out of our phones and into our houses.

Augmented Reality distorts the line between reality and what is computer generated. It is more life like than virtual reality as it plays with all our senses.

Gamers will not just reap the benefits. The potential for AR to impact all elements of our lives is massive, not just the way we live but shape how our lives progress. It will change the way we view the world – quite literaly. From education to manufacturing, 2017 is the year for substantial AR adoption.  For online retailers, an AR feature will allow consumers to virtually asses and try on clothes before purchase. Home furnishing stores can benefit from the same feature and this is just the beginning.

Technology #4 – Rise in synthetic foodshutterstock_379696906 (1) (3)

With the population estimate to grow to 9 billion by 2050, we’re going to need a wholelot of hamburgers to keep up.

We have witnessed two possibilities of protein reproduction, one without involving any animals in the process:

2)The second being tissues drawn painlessly from live animals have been engineered to create synthetic lab-grown meats.

The development of plant protein base meats is not only ethically charged; livestock replacement with growing and harvesting plants could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are the two front-runners in turning plants to patties. Not only are these companies trying to replicate the taste and texture of meat but the whole experience – they have even gone so far as making them bleed beet juice.

The brainchild behind Impossible Foods believes everything from an animal’s fat tissue to muscle cells can be replicated using plant compounds.

Bill Gates is an investor in Beyond Meat and backs Impossible Foods along with billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla
and Google Ventures. In 2015, Impossible Foods turned down Google’s offer to buy the company for US $200-$200 million. I can assure you this is not a vegan driven fad but the potential to be the future of our carnivore consumption.

This year we will see a range of plant-based meat replacements at your local store.

Just think of the possibilities when we combine this with 3D printing.

2017 – what a time to be alive! Until a bot decides otherwise.

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