With technology evolving at breakneck speeds, what is considered cutting-edge today, might be rendered obsolete tomorrow. With more and more functions being automated, it's important to stay a step ahead of the curve and plan for what's about to happen instead of what's happening. Those who plan to pursue technology as a career always face such dilemmas - either study something currently popular or take a leap of faith and study an area tipped to become prominent in the near future.
Here’s a look at some technologies purported to become big in the next few years:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a staple of science fiction for years and now, we seem to be closer than ever to making it a reality. While AI has been in use for a while now, its usage was quite limited. For example, it was used to filter spam emails from your inbox or to offer 'smart' recommendations by certain online service providers.
But the essential development in AI, that's shaping the future is Machine Learning (ML), which is a subset of AI. In ML, the computer “learns” from huge amounts of data to make “better” decisions —whether it is recommending what movie to watch next or which clinical procedure to perform on a patient, the applications are manifold. Deep Learning (DL) is a deeper subset of ML and improves upon the ML model even further. They use Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), whose design is inspired by the human brain.
AI is already becoming a key area for driving innovation and is set to become pretty big. It has the potential to influence almost every facet of human lives — from what you purchase, to what you watch, to how you commute.
With the rise of smartphones and the internet, the amount of data being shared globally has never been higher. The most apparent evidence of the rapid evolution of communication technology is broadband cellular technology. We are at the cusp of 5G services being rolled out commercially, which have the potential to offer speeds of 1Gbps and can be used across a wide variety of services, not just cellular services. The bandwidth provided by 5G can also be used by IoT devices to communicate among themselves. For example, self-driving cars on the road will be able to communicate with each other and make commuting safer. This should give you an indication of how vital 5G will become.
5G is all set to be rolled out in select countries this year and manufacturers have already showcased devices that support the new technology. It is going to be a while before it comes to India, but some telecom companies have already made headway. Airtel is one of the major telecom operators conducting 5G trials in India and just last year they conducted a first lab test where they achieved a throughput of over 3 Gbps with extremely low latency.
So far, blockchain has been used in conjunction with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Traditional currencies have a central authority, which issues them and maintains the ledger. This authority is generally the bank. With Bitcoin, there is no central authority. Transactions are handled by a large number of computers in a big network. A ‘block’ of data holds a record of any transaction that might have happened. These blocks are then ‘chained’ to each other using a set of cryptographic rules and algorithms. All computers in a network (called nodes) have a copy of the chain. So even if one of the nodes goes offline, the data is not lost.
Furthermore, since every node has a copy, the system is very transparent. Tampering with any particular block would require hackers to do the same with every block stored across the chain as well as with the previous blocks, which is theoretically impossible. While the most common use for blockchain right now is monetary transactions, it has the potential to be used across a wide variety of fields such as supply chain management, healthcare, governance, online voting, and many more.
Robotics is a field that is already being applied in the real world. With the rise of AI and 5G technologies, it is set to become a field greater than ever. By the looks of it, the application of robotics is limited only by the imagination of the creators. It encompasses a wide variety of fields that go beyond traditional humanoid models such as drones, self-driving cars etc.
The application of robotics spans across domestic, commercial, and military domains. From simple bots that go around vacuuming your floors to complex ones that help workers carry heavy loads across the factory floors. Then you have drones that can offer surveillance in remote borders. Robots can also be used in hazardous environments where they can minimise risks to human lives. These could include applications such as fire fighting or search and rescue.
Gaming is currently a multi-billion dollar industry with popular games raking in millions. The industry is also constantly evolving to make use of newer technologies. While things like Augmented/Virtual reality have already gained traction, game streaming or cloud gaming is tipped to become quite big in the future.
Cloud gaming makes high-end gaming more accessible by removing the cost of owning dedicated high-end gaming hardware, which can be quite expensive. With cloud gaming, all a person would need to own is an input device joystick, and a display. The main processing is done offsite, in a remote server. This would allow gamers to play on almost any display, as long as they have an input device. This could be a TV, PC, or smartphone. Further, developers will not have to worry about being throttled by the limitations of hardware available to consumers.
Google is set to be the first to launch a cloud gaming service in the form of Stadia. While details are still under wraps, the company’s executives have hinted that users will need internet speeds of around 30Mbps to stream 4K at 60fps. While this is quite possible with broadband, streaming the same on mobile would be tricky. This is where 5G would come into the picture. The bandwidth offered by 5G should be more than enough for such quality, while the low latency should rule out any possibility of lag. As mentioned above, although the arrival of 5G has not yet been announced in India, thanks to successful trials by Airtel, the development of 5G is taking giant strides already.
So there you have it. If you plan on pursuing your dreams of a future in tech, then these are some of the fields you might want to consider. Good luck and here’s to hoping that you are the catalyst that makes the next technological breakthrough possible!
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