2018 has been a year of innovations, inventions and discoveries. The best thing about technology is that its ever-evolving. What seemed impossible a few years back is now a common part of our lives. From human-like AI to Virtual Reality, 2018 just keeps on dishing out new technologies which we wouldn’t have expected till atleast 2025. Here is a list of some of the most amazing technological innovations:
1- Artificial Intelligence:
Artificial Intelligence, a huge innovation that was once just in movies and games has now become a reality. The most major breakthrough in this field was the creation of Sophia. Surprisingly, “she” exhibited the ability to comprehend not only what someone said to her but could also understand the different tones like anger, sarcasm and friendliness. It’s no doubt that this is a step towards developing better and more mobile AI robots and computers. Industries have invested in this research for ages to gain “worker robots” that can produce the perfect quality products without having to spend much on labor.
Many of us may have heard of the latest Google Assistant AI. In the last update, it turned out as a true surprise, with a seemingly 100% natural voice and intelligent speech comprehension along with the ability to talk to people by itself and carrying out lengthy conversations, not like the “I am sorry. I didn’t understand you question.” it was before. Similarly, Amazon and Apple have also been working on their AIs Alexa and Siri.
But the best of it’s applications come out in the field of robotics, where engineers have created robots that cannot only take commands and interpret them but also are able to “see” and be aware of the environment. They have been able to solve simple puzzles like opening doors, getting out of a maze. It may not seem much but considering all this happening in the last 4 or 5 years, we are surely going to see much more soon. However, it may pose some threats. Considering a complete thinking and able AI brain be produced, we may even have to call it “living”. Robots may replace the people in industries or offices, raising the unemployment rate. The most dangerous that people believe in, a robot apocalypse which may be true considering what Sophia said upon being asked.
Not long ago, when David Hanson—Sophia’s creator—asked her “do you want to destroy humans?…Please say ‘no’,” Hanson was answered by the unblinking machine.
“OK. I will destroy humans.”
2- Virtual Reality:
Virtual Reality is an idea of the past. Though it was used in science, military and flight training, the portable smartphone-sized VR was displayed in many movies and games before its invention was even possible. Just 7 years ago, nobody would have believed us if we told them that there will be handheld virtual reality in the future. In the dictionary, Virtual reality (VR) is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment, that incorporates mainly auditory and visual effects, but also other types of sensory feedback like haptic effect. This immersive environment can be similar to the real world or it can be fantastical, creating an experience that is not possible in ordinary physical reality.
Augmented reality systems may also be considered a form of VR that layers virtual information over a live camera feed into a headset or through a smartphone or tablet device giving the user the ability to view three-dimensional images.
It started from mobile phones, using two lens to focus two images in such a way that they form a single 3D image. Then came the Oculus Rift, the most advanced VR headset to date. Capable of running anything you throw at it, it’s only downside is that it requires a beastly PC. It started as a headset that placed you in a virtual world. Then came the handheld remotes, giving you more freedom. The walking pads were a huge invention. They completed almost the whole sense of VR, allowing you to walk by yourself in a VR world without actually going anywhere. The final touch, the actual sensation of the environment you are in. Though it is still in development, one invention has been enjoying the limelight. The bullet vest, giving you the VR sensation of being hit by a bullet in a game as though it was in real life ALONG with the recoil you feel on being hit or shooting a gun.
Augmented Reality rose to fame with Pokemon Go. But it has not seen much development lately.
3- 3D Printing:
While 3-D printing has been around for decades, it has remained largely in the domain of hobbyists and designers producing one-off prototypes. And printing objects with anything other than plastics—in particular, metal—has been expensive and painfully slow.
Now, however, it’s becoming cheap and easy enough to be a potentially practical way of manufacturing parts. If widely adopted, it could change the way we mass-produce many products.
In the short term, manufacturers wouldn’t need to maintain large inventories—they could simply print an object, such as a replacement part for an aging car, whenever someone needs it. In the longer term, large factories that mass-produce a limited range of parts might be replaced by smaller ones that make a wider variety, adapting to customers’ changing needs.
The technology can create lighter, stronger parts, and complex shapes that aren’t possible with conventional metal fabrication methods. It can also provide more precise control of the micro-structure of metals. In 2017, 3-D-printing company Markforged, a small startup based outside Boston, released the first 3-D metal printer for under $100,000. Another Boston-area startup, Desktop Metal, began to ship its first metal prototyping machines in December 2017. It plans to begin selling larger machines, designed for manufacturing, that are 100 times faster than older metal printing methods.
The printing of metal parts is also getting easier. Desktop Metal now offers software that generates designs ready for 3-D printing. Users tell the program the specs of the object they want to print, and the software produces a computer model suitable for printing.
4- Quantum Computing:
Quantum computing is computing using quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement. A quantum computer is a device that performs quantum computing. They are different from binary digital electronic computers based on transistors. Whereas common digital computing requires that the data be encoded into binary digits (bits), each of which is always in one of two definite states (0 or 1), quantum computation uses quantum bits or qubits, which can be in superposition of states.
Half a decade from now, quantum computing will be an essential element of any computer engineering degree, researchers are today predicting. Rather than a technology shrouded in mystery, it will be fundamentally understood and a practical tool in use solving problems in many disciplines and industries. An understanding of quantum computing will be essential for those looking for careers in any scientific field, and students will leave university with hands-on experience of running practical experiments on quantum powered machines. And just as most engineers or scientists could today outline what is meant by the computing term “bit”, in five years’ time, the term “qubit” will be widely understood.