2017 was an eventful year. It was a mixed bag with its share of euphoria and gloom. We experienced some path breaking inventions that promise to bridge the gap between man and machine, such as Face ID and first robot citizen. At the same time, there were not-so-good events that put us on alert such as cyber-attacks and bots speaking in their own language. All in all, 2017 gave an indication of what to expect in the future. While we learn from the hits and misses of the past year and progress into 2018, why not rewind and glance at the technologies that shaped the 2017?
No other technical aspect hogged the limelight last year as much as cyber security. Although thousands of cyber security breaches take place every year, not all are made public. 2017 was, however, different. Several cyber security breaches made headlines; from WannaCry to Petya to ZCryptor that affected billions and resulted in financial and reputational damage to organizations globally. Cyber experts did their best to keep the loss to minimum but with more and more devices getting online, from cars to appliances, they have their task cutout. The increasing incidents of cyber-crime also rattled the trust of 3.8 billion global internet users, meaning the organizations accountable for cyber security need to ensure the trust of online users and provide them with a safer environment.
Facial recognition technology became the talk of the town, thanks to Apple’s flagship smartphone iPhone X. The phone uses facial motion capture technology, also known as Face ID, to map faces in 3D and then recognize it in an instant to unlock the phone. Although it wasn’t the first time that smartphone users were introduced to facial recognition technology, Samsung first toyed with the idea on its ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 and then on Galaxy Note 8. The results, however, weren’t positive, as people were able to spoof the technology with the photo of the phone owner’s face. Apple, on the other hand, claims that its Face ID feature is highly secure and there’s a one in a million chance that someone could spoof it. Just like every breakthrough, Face ID too has had its share of criticism but no one can deny that Face ID has truly revolutionized the facial recognition technology for mobile phones.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been around for a couple of years but for some reasons these closely related technologies haven’t really taken off as they were expected too. There can be multiple reasons for that including high price tag of the products, average graphics, and not integrating the technologies into mobile strategy. That, however, changed in 2017 with the launch of a handful of VR headsets for commercial operations, allowing anyone with smartphone to enjoy an immersive experience. Add to that, the improved graphics of applications and launch of Apple ARKit – a framework for AR-based apps and games – with iOS 11. Apple has even put an effort in enhancing the popularity of AR with end users by designing the ARKit for all iPhones and iPad featuring A9, A10, and A11 processors. With more applications making use of the technologies and supported products in the market, AR and VR started to gain wider acceptance.
Until 2017, tech evangelists just used to whisper about Blockchain, but last year it became a buzzword with even laymen discussing it, thanks to the mind-boggling surge in prices of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, one of the most popular cryptocurrency surged an astonishing 1400 percent last year. Blockchain is a chain of continuously growing records called blocks, interlinked and secured by cryptography enabling verification of records minus a middleman. Fueled by blockchain architecture, cryptocurrencies are designed to work as a medium of exchange, with every transaction taking place in a secure environment. Another interesting aspect of blockchain is that even if a version of the block is corrupted miscreants cannot spoof with it as other participants possess correct copies of the block, preventing its use.
Machine learning is another technology that made giant strides in 2017. The technology is all about understanding data and statistics. It involves a technical process where computer algorithms find patterns in data to predict probable outcomes. In 2017, machine learning penetrated into quite a few industries including gaming, robotics, healthcare, and marketing. The biggest success story, however, was Google’s AlphaGo program, a Reinforcement Learning agent beating the world’s best Go players (Go being a board game). It was the first computer Go program to beat a human professional Go player without handicaps on a 19×19 full-sized board. The program was bettered by year end, giving way to AlphaGo Zero, which not only mastered Go, but also Chess and Shogi. In addition, we saw machine learning becoming a more prevalent technology in all spaces, from search engines to customer service platforms. ML is also useful in determining whether or not a particular email is spam by analyzing the words in the subject line, links contained in the message, or patterns identified in a list of recipients.
Did you witness these technologies making their presence felt in 2017? How about taking an active part in the growth of these influential tech trends and many more, that will sprout in 2018?
That’s all from us on Technologies that shaped 2017!
Do not forget to come back for the next blog where we also talk about tech in 2018!