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Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities
The Fine Line Between New and Future Technology

The Fine Line Between New and Future Technology

Linsey Knerl
Every new piece of technology has a beginning. That beginning often happens as an older gadget or software solution gets updated or changed until it is something different altogether. Knowing that today’s tech will blaze the trail for tomorrow’s tech, what can we expect from future technology news? What are the key differences between the products of today and those that are coming? Let’s see what we think will be the defining trends of the future in this guide.

How is future tech different from today’s tech?

Future tech is not very different at all from today’s. In fact, we can often see that the tech of tomorrow is based on the same systems and technology that we have right now. We can see how it’s grown from the truths we’ve already discovered and from the abilities we’ve had for some time. It’s often just ingenuity and practice that make tomorrow’s tech different.
But if there is one area where future tech varies, it’s in the timeline. These days, advances happen more quickly than ever before. Gadgets are becoming obsolete at a more rapid pace. The new things we just had to have yesterday are junk tomorrow. We churn through ideas at a dizzying speed, achieving new milestones with less time between them.
In short, future tech differs from current tech because of how quickly it evolves.

What technologies are the future?

We can’t even begin to imagine what developments will happen one year from now, not to mention a decade from now. That said, we can see some strong emerging tech trends that will move us into new areas of discovery, productivity, and problem solving. The new advancements most likely to jump-start important future technology include:
  1. AI (artificial intelligence)
  2. 4D printing
  3. WiFi 6
  4. 5G
  5. IoT (internet of things)
While there are other technologies we haven’t even heard of yet, these will likely be the springboard for how we work in the future. Let’s examine each of them to see how we got here and what we can expect from these developments in the next couple of years.

1. AI

You can’t read new technology articles in the education, financial, or marketing sectors without hearing the term “artificial intelligence” (AI). The term encompasses a lot of ideas, but it essentially means one thing: computers or programs will do more of the basic decision-making and reasoning humans have traditionally done by using new and innovative algorithms. Critical thinking roles will be increasingly passed along to gadgets and computers.

What does this look like now?

AI is currently responsible for a wide variety of things, such as determining which Twitter updates you see first on your timeline and mundane tasks in sales, customer service, and logistics. Those include running the chat windows you see when you reach a help page on a website and need assistance with an order. AI, as we know it, is still seemingly limited to what can be easily done by humans.

What does the future entail?

When spoken of in terms of the future, AI is a daunting and even scary prospect to some. Future AI developments, however, have less to do with what the tech can do, and rather who can use it. In the past, AI has been useful for computer data scientists with the training and know-how to take all that data and put it into something useful.
The future of AI is a democratization of the tech to make it more accessible. Soon, anyone can use their own AI programs to gather data, program software, and create the outcomes that were once limited to only the most highly-trained professionals. Everyone will have the power of AI in their homes and offices.

2. 4D printing

The things that 3D printing has made possible weren't even imaginable a few decades ago, and yet we are already on our next version of this amazing tech. 4D printing is in its infancy at the moment, but it's something you'll want to keep an eye on if you work in health, manufacturing, tech, or education. It’s set to revolutionize how even the most common products are sold and serviced.

What does this look like now?

Current 3D printing uses either extrusion, filament, or multi-jet tech to place small particles of material into one solid object. The ability to add color to the substance itself, or spray it on or bond it afterward, allows for almost unlimited customization in products. Waste has decreased thanks to 3D printers that can reuse the excess that's cut away from the final piece.

What does the future entail?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, 4D printing is now available. While only in the initial stages, 4D-printed objects can continue to assemble or repair themselves after the initial printed manufacturing process. When exposed to stimuli, 4D-printed objects may change in size, shape, or color. They can self-repair and even assemble themselves. Think of this technology as an additional step in the customer service process, performed by the object and not people.

3. WiFi 6

I bet you didn’t know that you have used several generations of wireless connectivity in your home and at work. While it was always referred to as simply “WiFi” to consumers, there’s a new version in town. Meet WiFi 6, also known as “802.11ax.” It’s the latest in network tech.

What does this look like now?

Currently, wireless networks run off routers that use 802.11 technology. You can share speeds of up to 3.5 Gbps between all of your gear. Sure, that’s fast, but is it enough?

What does the future entail?

The latest generation of WiFi, or WiFi 6, isn't just faster, because it's actually a more mature version of connectivity. With consumers connecting more and more computers, smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, and gaming systems to their incoming internet connection, WiFi 6 will use an upgraded standard to make the available internet flow more accessible to all devices. You may actually get to use the speeds you pay for (around 9.6 Gbps) as the standard for the new wireless connection.

4. 5G

Is there a more controversial technology advancement being talked about right now than 5G? With all of its welcoming fans, this tech is no stranger to conspiracy theories and internet chatter. This mobile connectivity will change how we use mobile devices forever, so it’s best you know what it offers.

What does this look like now?

We currently use a patchwork of data and cellular networks to make calls, send SMS messages, and access email, music, and maps on our phones and mobile devices. These tasks can come to us from a variety of sources, including 3G, 4G, LTE, and old-school cell towers that only provide phone calls.

What does the future entail?

You can’t stop progress, and 5G is the latest example of a new thing that’s already here. Available in more than 20 cities and growing fast, it’s offering speeds of 70 times faster than what we see with 4G networks now.
One particularly striking development with the 5G network is that it isn’t just for phones. It’s on pace to replace much of the broadband internet we use for connecting our home devices as well. For people living in areas of the country considered an “internet desert,” there’s potential to live in a connected world, after all.

5. IoT (internet of things)

The phrase “internet of things” is a strange one, but you’re probably very familiar with what it means. Anytime you use Alexa to send your schedule to your HP wireless printer or you use your fridge to order more milk, these devices are participating in the ecosystem of the Internet of Things.
Automation, which is done by connected gadgets through a wireless network (and with access to the outside internet), simplifies our world and provides opportunities to do more with an increasingly constrained daily time budget.

What does this look like now?

Simply put, there are a lot of connected things out there. There are 26 billion IoT devices as of 2019, and 127 new devices connect to the internet every second. By the time you are done reading this article, thousands will have joined the circle of connectivity that drives commerce, education, and entertainment for most modern consumers.

What does the future entail?

In addition to more things, these devices will do more tasks. Through a combination of people embracing them for more of their menial duties and AI making more tasks possible, they will be handling more "background tasks" in the lives of humans.
They will continue doing the work we need to be done, including when we’re not at home or when we’re sleeping. If done intelligently, they can provide everything from life-saving medical monitoring and medication administration, security services, and financial duties. They can assist those who struggle to live in their homes independently, including older Americans who will be able to turn to the IoT to help with the tasks as they age.
The IoT will also have positive outcomes for the environment and natural resources. In addition to being one of the major components of self-driving cars and traffic management tools, they can optimize how we use our finite resources, from running our HVAC systems to keeping crops irrigated to guarding against unforeseen weather-related catastrophes. Many different tools, working together, can help improve our world in big ways.

New technology 2019 provided us

There are a few notable advances we’ll recognize as significant from the year 2019. We will likely still be buzzing about the following cool new technology milestones for years to come:
If it seems like there is less time between new innovations in technology, you're not wrong. The jump from personal computer to the pocket calculator to laptop to smartphone was an increasingly hurried one, with the gap between new developments becoming smaller and smaller. The history of HP, for example, shows just eight years between the first HP wireless printer to one that prints in metal.
With so much to do in the gaming, printing, computing, and VR industries, we can expect to step over the lines between new and future at a rapid pace. Today's dreams are tomorrow's reality, and the difference between “now” and “next” is simply a matter of (not that much) time.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.

Disclosure: Our site may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

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