Rapid scientific advances, as well as life-changing events like Covid-19, have led to the emergence of exciting new technologies. In this post, we’ll explore the most popular trends you cannot afford to miss – we’re living in exciting tech times.
Here are COR’s top advanced technologies making noise in 2021, we’ll explore each one in more detail later in the post.
Cybersecurity is by no means a new trend. For as long as there’s been the internet, there’s been some form of cybersecurity. Effectively it exists to keep data and critical infrastructure safe from hackers and malware. Passwords, two-step authentications and firewalls are some everyday examples of cybersecurity. And on a larger scale, big organizations and governments use more sophisticated methods to keep data safe.
Society is more connected and online than ever before, with services like wi-fi, once thought of as a luxury, now considered a necessity. But as technology, and our dependence on it, has advanced, so have the threats.
This is especially true since the beginning of the pandemic. Remote working, online shopping and virtual meetings became the new normal overnight. And technology, threats and cybersecurity rapidly adapted to this new way of living. Hackers are increasingly trying new ways to steal data and breakthrough security.
Aside from protecting personal data, cybersecurity technology is essential in protecting critical infrastructures, like hospitals, airports, and government processes.
Virtual Dispersive Network (VDN) is a new cybersecurity trend making waves in the past year. This technology works by sending an intermittent signal, known as a quantum burst, that can’t be read without destroying the content. VDN effectively makes it impossible for hackers to steal information.
Deep Learning is another new technology being used to develop new cybersecurity measures. It works by using Artificial Intelligence to analyze real-time data to find new threats. We’ll look at AI in more detail later in this post.
Embedded Hardware Authentication is a more advanced way of securing data. It simultaneously combines up to 4 authentication methods when a user tries to log in, which makes it much harder for a hacker to crack passwords or pins.
Also trending is blockchain security, which we’ll explore in the next section.
Companies investing heavily in this area include the likes of CISCO, IBM and RedHat. According to the International Institute of Business (IIBA), $6 trillion is being spent on cybersecurity in 2021.
Blockchain may sound confusing, but the basic principle is quite simple. It’s effectively a type of database that stores data in blocks and chains them together, hence the name. Blockchain technology is mostly used for financial transactions, like money transfers and doesn’t require a third-party intermediary like other transfer technology.
Data enters a new block in a chain. When each new block is filled with data, it’s chained to the previous block and stores the information in chronological order. This gives it a timestamp that cannot be modified, along with a numerical code that links to the previous chain. If a hacker tries to steal a block, the code will disappear making it obvious to all a block is missing.
Blockchain is perhaps best known for its use in cryptocurrencies. In the case of Bitcoin, it uses blockchain to record all transactions and the data blocks are stored in mainframe computers. What makes blockchain databases different from other types is that no one person or entity owns or has access to the information. This is known as “decentralized” information.
For example, let’s say a company with traditional database technology has 1000 mainframe computers storing all its information. This company owns all of that data, which may include sensitive personal and financial information of its customers, employees, and providers. This is obviously a cybersecurity issue if the company is hacked or the data is compromised. But for blockchain databases, this information is decentralized making it more secure.
Blockchain’s transparency gives it a major advantage over traditional data storage. All network users can see data in blocks, which can’t be modified or removed without the overall consensus of all users.
This secure nature means increased trust between organizations and individuals, doing away with the need for third-party intermediaries. As blocks can’t be removed or modified, businesses can share more secure data safe in the knowledge it can’t be stolen or hacked. As third parties aren’t required to verify or secure transactions, blockchain is, therefore, more efficient than traditional technology.
Another benefit is automation. Blockchain automates the process of recording transactions in financial ledgers. Traditional, manual methods of bookkeeping can be paper-heavy, time-consuming and prone to error. Through automation, data is more efficiently and accurately recorded. And the way data is recorded makes it easier to understand, meaning financial institutions can process greater volumes of data. Through automation of processes and transparency of information, blockchain technology is also more cost-effective for businesses that use it.
IBM is the one of biggest tech players investing in blockchain, with $200 million invested in research as of 2021. And of course, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin continue to invest in this new trend, as well as trading platforms like Coinbase.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging tech trend that has been gaining ground over the past decade. In this increasingly connected and digital age, “things” are being constructed and designed to connect to each other, hence the name the “Internet of Things”.
Take Apple as a perfect example. The iPhone connects to the iWatch, which connects to other mobile devices, and not just Apple’s own. This intra-connectivity of appliances has become standard in the last decade, and the technology is expected to evolve even quicker in the coming decade. Smart cities are another example of IoT, with entire urban centers intra-connected.
But it’s not just consumers benefiting from this new technology, IoT is revolutionizing how businesses are operating. This trend has been dubbed the “industrial internet of things” (IIoT). For example, IoT facilitates more accurate management reporting by connecting operational machinery or technology to computers. Let’s take a car manufacturer that tracks data from its assembly line, like employee utilization and use of materials. The IoT allows the company to have a real-time, panoramic view of the operation which facilitates more data-driven decision making.
Data helps businesses to improve efficiency in their operations. By tracking real-time data, analysts can determine where inefficiencies may lie and how to improve. This in turn allows the business to continually optimize its operations. For example, our car manufacturer could identify time-consuming tasks on the distribution line or in the supply chain. It could use the data to determine whether these tasks could be automated to free up employees’ time or obtain materials quicker. They could then be re-deployed to other parts of the production line that would allow for quicker or more cost-effective output. By using IoT data, this company can improve its operations and become more profitable.
The IoT also allows businesses to automate it’s maintenance, protocols and failure responses. For example, let’s take the construction industry which was one of the worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Operations came to a standstill as restrictions were imposed across the world and workers were forced to stay home. To resume operations, construction sites had to follow strict protocols, like social distancing. The IoT has helped these sites to ensure compliance with these new safety measures. Some construction sites issued tagged helmets which alert the wearer if they come within a certain distance of another employee. Another example is TrenItalia, Italy’s train operator, whose trains are constantly monitored for maintenance and safety issues.
(You can read more about how the Covid-19 pandemic affected the construction industry here)
Businesses can also use IoT technology to provide better customer service. Mobile delivery app Truck Advisor is a perfect example of improved services through IoT. Used by big names like Unilever, its entire fleet of delivery trucks are connected through a cloud platform. This allows it to track in real-time the progress of its deliveries without attaching a GPS, meaning greater accuracy and security. IoT technology also allows it to forecast potential delivery delays, and communicate estimated arrival times to its customers. IoT technology is used by all types of businesses, from startups to big brands.
The biggest players investing in IoT technology include Apple, Cisco and IBM. In 2020, global market research company Garter surveyed 402 businesses from across the USA, UK, Germany, Singapore, India and Australia. It found that 47% planned to invest in IoT technology despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.
Quantum computing is an advanced technology that has created a big buzz within the tech sector in recent years, although many experts believe we’re still a few years away from realizing its full potential. It’s effectively a far quicker way of processing data.
First, it’s important to define a little about quantum physics: atoms do not follow the usual rules, as they’re able to travel in time and be in two places at once. To understand how this links to quantum computing, let’s look at how traditional computers work.
Classic computers use two states to do calculations. These states are called bits and are usually denoted as 1 or 0. A really simple example of this is a light switch with its ‘on’ and ‘off’ setting. Quantum Computing, on the other hand, leverages the versatility of atoms, to do calculations. As they can be in the same place at once, quantum computing has multiple states, as well as the standard 1 or 0. These states are known as qubits.
As qubits are more dynamic than traditional bits, quantum computers can handle more calculations, allowing for far faster processing. It’s also expected quantum computers will be able to crack calculations and codes no traditional computer ever could.
That said, there are some tasks which classic computers are better at, such as spreadsheets and emails. Quantum computing is a different method to address different problems, and is not intended to replace traditional computing. Uses of quantum computing include scheduling flights and calculating the best journey routes for delivery trucks.
Well, in an increasingly digital age of data analytics, quantum computing allows for more agile processing of all the data we produce daily. Quantum computing is instrumental in the development of emerging technologies like 5G networks, augmented reality and virtual reality. 5G’s increased bandwidth means it can process more data in less time than 3G and 4G.
Big tech firms, like Google and Microsoft, are investing heavily, with the former having engineered a computer 110 million times faster than a traditional computer back in 2019.
Artificial Intelligence is data science where computers and machines carry out tasks that traditionally require human intelligence, such as decision making and problem-solving. Classic computers and machines use data to define all possible outcomes and are programmed to function within these parameters. Whereas AI works by creating algorithms that analyze and organize existing data to help it predict outcomes. Over time, it collects new data, which helps it improve predictions and outcomes. This is called machine learning, which in many ways, it’s just like humans: we learn from experiences which in turn affects the way we act in the future.
Artificial Intelligence can interpret and learn from data much quicker than humans. This means businesses can use AI to automate processes and improve operational efficiency.
Although in its infancy, AI is also already used in much of today’s society. Here are some everyday examples:
But aside from these uses by big brands, artificial intelligence also allows for groundbreaking progress in the healthcare sector. From robot-assisted surgeries to protecting patient records, AI has revolutionized this overworked and traditionally inefficient industry. For example, AI-based virtual assistants allow patients to undergo certain processes remotely, reducing hospital visits and freeing up nurses’ time. Doctors have benefitted from AI-improved processes and automation, which also frees up their time to treat more patients.
AI has helped with the fight against Covid-19. Indeed, the virus was detected by AI-based software designed by Canadian firm Bluedot. It uses machine learning to read epidemiological data and make predictions and alerts about the spread of infectious diseases. Contact-tracing apps in use in many countries rely on AI technology and have helped control the virus.
Apple, Amazon and IBM are just some of the big names investing in this top technology.
In the age of big data and fast technological advances, new trends are constantly emerging that improve our personal lives and help businesses be more profitable. The most popular trending technologies all make use of data to automate processes and save human time. Cybersecurity, Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence are our top 5 new tech trends to follow in the next year.