Megatrends are categories of technological advancement that reach a level of sophistication, efficacy and usefulness where the technology switches from deceptive to disruptive; transitioning from potentially viable, to becoming a driving force in enabling advancement across multitude fields, industries, products and applications.

In a world of exponential growth the following 6 Megatrends are appearing as the most viable categories of technologies that businesses, entrepreneurs and society at large can utilise to create massive change in the world through their application in product design, customer experience, business modeling & industry disruption.

01. Intelligent Things

What It Is

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Machine Vision, Sensor Technology, Computational Power & Robotics are leading an explosion in average objects becoming intelligent. This is enabling the things around us to interact in more intelligent ways with people and surroundings.

From voice assistants, chatbots, and vacuums to smart home systems, autonomous cars, and smart cities, the things around us are being implanted with machine intelligence. Bringing virtual life to formerly inanimate objects.

Why It Matters

Intelligent machines will better monitor hospital patients, grow and harvest sturdier crops, and reduce manufacturing wastage. Autonomous cars will deliver us to our destinations safer.

Thinking machines will take over many of the mundane tasks humans do everyday (performing them faster & more efficiently) – leaving more time for us to explore our creativity, imagination & innovation to improve our way of life, our planet and our connections with each other.

02. Digital Twins

What It Is

A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. Sensors in the real-world object transmit data to the digital replicant, allowing the digital counterpart to be in the exact same state as the object itself. With an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020, digital twins will exist for billions of things in the near future

Why It Matters

Real-time digital monitoring of complex systems such as Nuclear Energy Plants, Oil Rigs, or Hospitals makes it easier to detect defects, and run crisis scenarios in a safe, cheap and reproducible way.

03. Quantum Computing

What It Is

Where today’s computers store and read information in bits represented by either a 1 or a 0, Quantum computers read and write information in qubits which can exist as either a 0, a 1, or both states simultaneously. The special qualities of Qubits (short for Quantum Bits) allow them to solve problems much faster, as they can run multiple routines at once – where current bits can only solve one thing at a time.

Why It Matters

In our digital world, we are generating trillions of bits of data every second. “Big Data” becomes a problem for traditional processors because they can only solve one problem at a time, the more complex the problems become, the longer it takes to solve them.

Quantum processing would be significantly faster at solving problems (a million or more times) than the ones we use today. Because of a Qubit’s unique ability to exist in multiple states at once, they can compute more information with less energy. The drawback with Quantum computing, for now at least, is that due to their existence in multiple states, they are more prone to reporting errors. So the future will likely see a combination of quantum processors churning through data, while traditional processors fact-check the results.

04. Synthetic Biology

What It Is

Tiny molecule-sized robots (Nanotechnology), 3D printing of tissue, and gene editing & sequencing are driving the quest of radical life extension forward at a rate 3 times faster than exponential. (That’s really, really fast!).

Scientists can now probe deep inside the body with tiny robots, 3D print new tissue, and even organs, and are unlocking our genetic code to the point that they can program human DNA.

Why it Matters

Average human lifespan will leap beyond 100 years within the next 30-50 years. The impact on lifestyle, work, healthcare, insurance and many other industries will be immense.

People will enter 2nd and 3rd careers. Populations will dramatically increase. Food and water scarcity could become a global concern. However, More experienced and knowledgeable workforces will drive increased innovation, productivity and industry. Health & Wellness will increase, as most known diseases become curable – even Diabetes, Alzheimers & cancer. We live longer, healthier, happier lives, contributing to a more abundant global community.

05. Immersive Experience

What It Is

Beyond VR and AR gaming and experiences, mixed reality will become the new normal. Mixed reality appears to be the immersive experience of choice – where the user interacts with both digital & real-world objects, but maintains a presence in the real world.

Why it Matters

Having 24/7 visual access to hyper-relevant information will fundamentally change how we interact with the world around us, and with each other. Our visual perception of our world shapes so much of who we are as individuals, that altering such reality will have a massive impact on what it means to be human and how we define ourselves.

Beyond enhanced information feeds, we’ll likely see virtual dating, gender identification, fashion, culture and self-identity being challenged as human reality slips into virtual, augmented worlds where individual identify with themselves and others in wholly new, exciting ways.

06. Conversational Platforms

What It Is

The next generation of voice-recognition, combined with Artificial Intelligence will do more than answer simple questions like “How’s the Weather” or place a phone call when asked “Book a movie at 8:30pm”. Conversational Platforms will become capable of understanding the intent behind a user’s question.

For example, asking your phone to “Call Mom”, may prompt a reminder to wish her well because it’s Mother’s Day. Platforms will begin to learn “why” you are asking, and not just what you are asking – filling the gaps between a question and it’s context (or connection with other related information).

Why it Matters

Other than becoming more natural at resolving voice-based requests, Conversational Platforms could be used in the future to collect witness testimony, and even further, create a sketch of the suspect based on the suspect’s description. Beyond the basic ChatBots we see today, natural language will become more integrated into our digital experiences. From web search, to data input, query resolution & messaging, powerful voice systems could even replace physical input devices like keyboards and touch pads – creating a very natural, seamless digital experience.

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