You know 4K video, AVB, laser projectors and most anything Ethernet-equipped will have a big year in 2017, but there are two technologies that people are only whispering about that you should pay attention to this year. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) will both pop up to the level of common conversations this year. I’m not suggesting either will be big sellers in this year’s market, but R&D advances for both will reach critical mass, allowing bleeding edge integration to begin in early 2018, and initial main stream adoption in 2019/20. Here is a five minute synopsis on each that will let you appreciate what’s coming and allow you to discuss the topics when your CEO asks what the company is doing to be prepared for the future. I’ve linked each title to short videos.
AR is not virtual reality where you see only what is on the screens in front of your eyes, but instead allows you to see everything around you with an overlay video precisely positioned in your current field of view, just like any real object would be.
The Upside — Users will no longer need a video display, but instead will use virtual displays that they can make any size and put in any visible location. Prototyping new products can be achieved at almost no cost and no materials. Even better, face-to-face meetings around the world can be had without leaving the office and it will be like your together. Direct interaction with sports, friends/ family, games, wildlife and just about anything you can think of from anywhere. There will be further escalation in video streams and all related products.
The Downside — 4K LCD displays are no longer needed when you can make a virtual device of any size. AV integration firms will eventually see a drop in this type of business and job lose. Congested networks will need to handle even more high priority traffic traffic.
The Take-away — There is almost no industry that will not be touched by AR and you will begin to see folks walking around with visors more commonly by end of this year, and 2018 will be the breakout year as application development accelerates. We all got along just fine without AR, so failure situations will not be catastrophic which will actually drive early adopters and general acceptance. Streaming video sources will increase by an order of magnitude.
Not unlike the HAL-2000, AI will begin to help us make decisions, and then later on make decisions for us in our absence. AI is not a glorified set of instructions, but a process that is beginning to approach the abilities of Neural Synapses in our brains. Our brains are constantly changing pathways and often make two different decisions given the same data, and AI is working in that same direction. We can’t replace an adult human with AI yet, and it will still be a decade or two before memory density and computing power will allow us to get close. How ever we may be getting close to a dog’s intelligence and one place you might see it will be in security-bots.
The Upside — AI will help us make better informed decisions, Power companies will better plan distribution, Buildings will be more efficient with resources, Traffic will get better, commutes will be shorter, research will progress faster, Meeting Spaces will know you and anticipate your needs, war fighters will better anticipate the enemy, and the list goes on.
The Downside — We will rely on machines more and people less, so the march to isolationism will continue. Automation associated with AI will reduce many factory worker jobs, online support jobs and technical analyst just to scratch the surface.
The Take-away — As with AR, there is almost no industry that will not be positively effected by having low cost intelligence available, and many jobs that will be negatively effected by an entity that does not take breaks, sleep or vacation. AR will effect us tremendously and in many very subtle ways at first, but with increasing momentum each year.
In a recent conversation with Crestron CTO Fred Bargetzi, he expressed Crestron’s growing interest in AI, and how important data will be to any intelligent agent making decisions for our homes or office spaces.
While AR and AI technologies may not be as exciting at a 100 GB network switch (to some), they will significantly effect our lives beginning in late 2017 and every biz-dev guy should be asking questions about their company’s roadmap in these areas.
Past writings in this area include: