We live in an exciting time. The last two decades have seen the proliferation of the internet, the smartphone and a level of global communication that our ancestors could only dream of. The fact is technological advances are not only changing the way we live now, they are helping to change the way we will do things in the future.
From self-driving cars to immersive digital realities, there seems to be no limit to the possibilities innovation is capable of. Over the next decade, technology will continue to change the way we interact with the world and each other and will continue to bring innovative ways to the way we shop, drive and communicate.
Below is a list of three of the most disruptive technologies that are poised to change or are already revolutionizing the way we do things.
1. Virtual Reality (VR)
We caught a glimpse of what Virtual Reality (VR) is capable of this past summer when the Pokémon GO craze descended around the globe. While the instant popularity and skyrocketing market shares evidenced a demand for immersive realities, the true potential for virtual reality remains to be seen.
In early October, videogame giant PlayStation launched their first VR console component, PlayStation VR. Designed to be an affordable counterpart to some of the more expensive VR systems that are already on the market, PlayStation is hoping to win customers over early and keep them loyal as they continue to build and fine tune their VR games and worlds.
“It’s very exciting to be right at the beginning and on the forefront of this new medium,” said PlayStation VR developer, Brynley Gibson. “The games are going get better: with more unique experiences, more genres, new ways of playing.”
The immersive experience that VR provides is also enticing to other industries besides video gaming and computing. The travel and tourism industry is one of many industries that are exploring ways to integrate this new technology into their operations.
2. Visual Search
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the possibilities that visual search capabilities offer are worth a million views. While the true implications of visual search may be years away, we are already seeing the power that visual search has to help consumers find and purchase exactly what they want.
Designed to allow consumers to simply snap a photo of a product they are looking for or click on a digital image and find the retail information for products, visual search is transforming the way we shop online.
Canadian-based tech company Slyce was one of the first companies to bring their easy-to-use visual search technology to the mainstream, with company founder Cameron Chell spotting the vast potential visual search could offer to the digital shopping experience.
“It really is about making a smoother, more efficient end-to-end service,” Chell explained. “We want customers to be able to see something they want on their favourite celebrity or website and then immediately be able to find it online and purchase it, and that is what visual search is all about.”
As an extension to Slyce’s visual search capability, the company has partnered with Craves, an app that uses visual search capability and integrates it with social media engines like Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. Using the visual search technology introduced by Cameron Chell’s Slyce, Craves enables users to find an item of clothing they like on their social media feed, take a screenshot of it and upload it to the Craves app. The app will then show users where they can buy that item of clothing.
The global online shopping market already brings in roughly $2.2 trillion dollars in annual sales and is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 9 percent over the next five years. With the introduction of visual search tools, there is even more potential for accelerated market growth.
3. Autonomous Vehicles
Poised to be one of the most disruptive technologies in recent years, autonomous or self-driving cars could greatly change the transportation industry, not to mention the way goods and services are delivered.
For the last few years, Google has been testing a number of their own autonomous vehicles with the hope of introducing technology that will make the first smart car possible. The car of the future won’t take over or replace the need for a driver. Instead, the autonomous car will be a tool that allows the driver and car to work together to reduce accidents and create a safer driving experience.
This past summer, disruptive transportation company, Uber, introduced their first autonomous fleet of vehicles in Pittsburgh. The specially designed Volvos are the first phase in a partnership between Volvo and Uber. Both companies signed an agreement in early 2016 to earmark $300 million for the development of a fully autonomous vehicle, that will hopefully be road ready by 2021.
These three innovations offer the most potential for widespread disruption, in part because they can be used across multiple industries. Of course, these are only a handful of the ways technological innovation is reshaping the way we do things and the way we think about the future.