Businesses wanting to stay relevant and ahead of the curve need to keep an eye on evolving tech trends. Advancement in technology and an evolving legal climate in 2018 will be an interesting challenge for today's business world.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Currently seen in gaming applications such as Pokémon Go, AR entertainment will mature during the coming year. However, AR is also likely to impact consumer experiences in industries such as food, automotive and digital marketing. AR combines the digital and the physical, meaning a user can improve their retail experience with AR by matching their body to a shop store mannequin or using AR to bring the excitement of a life-size boxing match into your front room.
The customer journey is now becoming unprecedentedly connective since the introduction of affordable augmented reality glasses. As this technology becomes more widely available this year, more people could start to experience and benefit from augmented life.
Laws are not necessarily keeping up with the advances in technology. Intellectual property, copyright and privacy will be the key legal concerns for AR companies to address. For example, digital media may be overlaid on top of reality and AR companies will be collecting, storing and using various data to enhance user experiences.
The much-anticipated 5G, the fifth generation of cellular networking will supersede the current industry standard that is 4G. While 4G delivers up to 100 megabits per second, 5G aims to deliver 10 gigabits per second. This essentially means that 5G will be one hundred times faster than the current 4G technology.
While it is predicted that 5G will have significantly faster speed than 4G, speed does not appear to be what is grabbing the headlines.
'Latency', which refers to times between devices over the network, is the main focus. It's anticipated that 5G will aim to get devices to work almost immediately with each other across networks. According to experts, 5G has the potential to revolutionise the way consumers use internet and how developers think about apps and streaming content. The introduction of 5G will likely to be instrumental in the development of other groundbreaking technologies such as self-driving cars. This is because the improved internet speed will be pivotal in the communication between autonomous vehicles and street architecture such as traffic lights.
Although still in its early stages, progress in rolling out 5G is well underway with AT&T announcing plans to introduce its 5G network by the end of 2018.
Winning bidders of the 3.6GHz spectrum band in Ireland hope that the release of the band will increase the amount of spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless broadband services in Ireland by 86%. It will also enable operators to provide new 5G services with faster speeds across Ireland.
Crypto-currencies / digital currencies
Bitcoin captured the financial world's attention at the end of 2017, when its value increased considerably up until the middle of December, after which it suffered a drop in value. While the buoyant nature of the digital currency is expected to continue, it is the technology driving this industry that is attracting attention from private investors, while simultaneously making the currency more susceptible to cyber attacks.
The underlying technology of these crypto-currencies is blockchain, which will have a big enterprise impact for smart contracts, supply chain and security. A blockchain is a single version of the truth made possible by an immutable and secure time-stamped public ledger, copies of which are held by multiple parties. Other crypto-currencies making waves are Ethereum, Ripple and Cardano.
Whichever way the market swings, the next 12 months will be significant in the world of crypto-currency.
Crypto-currencies are not currently regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. The long-term sustainability of crypto-currencies will require confidence that they are a secure mechanism of exchange that offers suitable protections to consumers. It remains to be seen how the challenges digital currencies present in areas such as tax, consumer protection and data protection will be resolved.
Staying tuned to evolving tech trends is one of the most important ways of staying competitive in the digital world. We expect the pace of change and disruption to be rapid in 2018. New technology will bring its own challenges for businesses in areas such as data protection, financial regulation, and third-party liability. It will be interesting to see how laws and regulations develop over the coming period to meet these challenges.
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