2017 truly has been a year full of surprises as some of the most innovative and futuristic ideas became a reality through integrated technological innovations. Even as the technological transformations are redefining businesses, healthcare, finances, education, travel, and logistics and ultimately our society, the average human life is experiencing a re-centering of intelligence; from being driven by the primal need to survive, we are now being driven by the passion to excel.Witheccentric terms like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, IoT and crypto currencies becoming a part of mainstream vocabulary; the technologies behind them remain mystical. This has partly to do with the rapid evolution of these technologies. With the hope of an even more eventful year of innovations and revolutionary technology, we decode some of the termsand unravel their potential in 2018.
Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality
Understanding these terms, which can easily be confused as each other, is vital as Augmented, Virtual and Mixed reality technologies are set to play a key role in transforming our day to day functions and experiences. Starting with the basic concept of each of them, their differences and the potential applications, we can say that:
Augmented Reality involves the superimposition of a virtual environment onto a real environment, where the person experiencing it can visualize both worlds simultaneously. One of the most popular examples of augmented reality was the success of the AR powered ‘Pokémon Go’. On a serious note, AR is set to impact and revolutionize some of our most basic day to day experiences by widening its scope from current applications in drone based defense and leisure applications, 3D views for navigation, e-commerce, travel and gamingto impact Consumer engagement and marketing, navigation & travel through 3D viewing, Communication technology with connected devises through Heads-Up-Displays(HUD), and entertainment through drones and revolutionary Retail experience in both real and digital platforms.
Virtual Reality involves a ‘virtual’ environment experienced through a specialized device like boxed goggles with a screen and is focused on creating a captivating virtual experience through digitally controlled, simulated devices. VR has so far been a popular alternate reality experience in 2017 and has seen some innovative applications. VR in 2018 is predicted to further transform experiences in areas of Corporate environment – VR meetings & conferences, customer service, training and recruitments; Advertising &Mass communication – market research, product experience, real time consumer engagement and brand lead social communications; Retail –real time shopping and ‘experience before you invest’ options on the digital marketplace; Healthcare – R&D, therapy&rehabilitation; Tourism – ‘Live before you fly’ advantage, VR museum tours and participation in local events and Social Media – VR chat groups, hangouts and VR cities and destinations to take digital networking to a whole new level.
Mixed Reality (MR) or Hybrid Reality combines the best of VR and AR, where real and virtual worlds are merged to create a new environment with the combine use of sensors, advanced optics and next gen computing power on a single device. The result is an experience where real and virtual objects co-exist and interact in real time space. MR mergesoverlay augmented holographic digital content into real-time space, creating unbelievably realistic scenarios that are mind-blowing.While VR & AR experiences were limited to the sense of sight and sound,the future for MR will see introduction ofnew experiences related to smell and touch.In terms of applications, MR will make VR and AR experiences much more believable by bringing them in the real space time ecosystem. Key applications for MR include Education, Retail, Gaming, Healthcare, Social interactions and networking especially through experience of music, smell and touch and entertainment.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learningimpliesto the development of digital systems to perform tasks simulating human intelligence. While 2017 saw a rapid evolution in AI w.r.t basic human functions, 2018 holds the key to enhanced applications likedecision making, reinventing business strategies and redefining corporate ecosystems as well as transform customer experience. Further, AI or machine-learning solutions will empower intelligent thingsto increasingly contribute in the human ecosystem by interacting more intelligently with people and surroundings.AI/ Machine learning will also be applied to targeted tasks to increase business value while in a more widespread use, help create semi-automated or automated devices to function independently and without supervision.Major sectors to benefit from AI include Banking & Finance, manufacturing – household appliances, automobiles, electronics etc., Marketing and Customer engagement, healthcare and communication
Financial technology is one sector that has witnessed unprecedented growth and innovation in 2017. Some of the most notable have been platforms like UIDAI, Quick Response (QR) enabled transactions, apps like BHIM and e-wallets like Paytm that have given a boost to the digitization of Indian economy. Key improvisations and developments in Fintech for 2018 will be the use of AI in the BFSI segment,specifically customer support; Personalization of services, increased cashless transactions, Open banking, merger of physical and digital ledgers, rise of B2B digital transactions and a smart data driven agile ecosystem. Further, wide spread application of the Blockchaintechnology, supported by the Indian government, will gain importance in the areas of assessing and containing fraud,increase transparency and to integrate with the backend banking system to monitor and safeguard data.Crypto currency, enabled by Blockchain, will continue to generate curiosity even as it grows exponentially, while policies and technologies will work together to contain and regularize its growth.
Basis the trends broadly discussed above, several combinations and integrations will create newer innovations and applications either at an entry level or an advance innovation. These could include Robots, a wider application of Internet of Things (IoT), the framework to create Digital Twins, expansion of cloud bases knowledge platforms and AI powered business ecosystems.