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The Top 3 Most Powerful Tech Trends For 2018

The next 12 months promises to be a fascinating period for technology around the world. The biggest players in tech are working on some exceptional developments that could change everyday lives for consumers and alter the face of certain industries forever. With only a matter of weeks until we celebrate the New Year, let’s take a look at three of the biggest tech trends that are likely to dominate the tech gadget landscape for retailers in 2018.

Use this information not only to stock up on on-trend products but also discuss on your social media, to keep your customers engaged.

Mixed reality: a fusion of augmented and virtual reality

Although augmented and virtual reality have taken the world by storm, with revenues derived from virtual reality technologies expected to hit $7.17bn by the end of 2017, Microsoft has been quietly beavering away developing a new way of combining physical environments with virtual objects and data. Their mixed reality concept appears to be a fusion of augmented and virtual reality; going past the use of visual displays (in the virtual sense) and introducing environments and spatial sounds and locations which combine the perception of the human brain and conventional reality with digital interaction. Virtual data or content is designed to interact in real-time with physical environments via Microsoft’s HoloLens and Acer Windows Mixed Reality headsets and is already transforming surgical procedures in the healthcare sector, enabling specialist surgeons from around the world to interact and assist with complex operations. The HoloLens is still out of reach of the average consumer, but independent retailers are already stocking the Acer Windows Mixed Reality headsets, retailing at around $400. Furthermore, there will no doubt be a flurry of cheaper mixed reality smartglasses that could prove more profitable for independent stores, with the likes of Lenovo and Dell bringing out headsets compatible with Windows Mixed Reality technology. Choose which ones to market to your audience – either way, you’ll capture their attention, and you can also hold demo sessions in your outlets to show them what the fuss is about.

Mixed reality devices are successfully adopting Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to help take mixed reality to the next level. Sound has already been used in mixed reality apps to detect the proximity of objects and surfaces, but OCR helps devices to quickly acknowledge and determine objects and handwritten or printed characters that can be converted to a digital virtual overlay via mixed reality headsets; helping users to better interact with the world around them. OCR technology is already being utilized in a range of different sectors. It is a focal point of the document scanning industry, scanning physical books and documents and transforming them into digital files that are fully editable. The British Library is one such organization utilizing OCR as part of its extensive project to digitalize its archives. Other applications of OCR tech include automatic number plate recognition, which is helping regional police forces to track down criminals on the run quicker than ever before. Meanwhile, online casino sites like Betway Casino leverage live streamed casino games such as blackjack and Texas hold’em use OCR to read the cards and calculate a player’s percentage chance of winning or losing a hand, before relaying the information to the player on-screen.

Home automation: transforming home life as we know it

The home automation systems market is expected to be worth almost $80bn by 2022, as property owners around the world increasingly acknowledge the added value of home monitoring and as a means of controlling the security and energy efficiency of your properties. Home automation technology utilizes the best of 21st Century technology to make everyday items smarter and more sophisticated than ever before. The Amazon Echo has taken the world by storm, with its virtual assistant Alexa providing voice-activated information and assistance on everything from tomorrow’s weather and the recipe for tonight’s meal to setting an alarm and listening to your favourite music. According to investment firm Mizuho, the revenue generated by Amazon’s Alexa software and the Echo voice-controlled speaker could go beyond $11bn by the turn of the next decade. Amazon is trying to go one further with their speaker by incorporating a ZigBee smart home hub built-in for its latest Echo Plus device. The system is capable of operating compatible lights, plugs and other functionality around the home. The Alexa software is improving all the time too and is now capable of requesting an Uber or ordering your favorite pizza. Who knows what it’ll be able to do in 12 months’ time! However, other companies are also coming up with their own similar gadgets.

Google’s response to the Echo is its very own voice-activated device, Google Home. The real attraction of Google Home is that it is capable of answering virtually any question found within a web search. The Google Assistant has the big dataset of the world’s largest search engine to fall back on, unlike Alexa, but there isn’t really anything else that usurps the Echo quite so convincingly. Home automation technology is also set to improve the security of properties tenfold. The Nest Cam is an outdoor security camera which records 24/7 live video in 1080p HD. You can receive a smartphone alert or email when the camera detects unknown activity and you can also talk to someone near the camera as a deterrent or to inform your postman where to leave your parcel – a true security essential!

What’s great about the home automation systems marketplace is that it’s increasingly consumer-friendly. Even the latest second-generation Amazon Echo is retailing at around $120, making it a realistic acquisition for many middle-income households. At that price, it’s also easier for independent stores to purchase and replenish stock.

Self-driving cars: a realistic prospect in 2018

It is said that the California Department of Motor Vehicles is to change its regulations to enable self-driving autonomous cars to drive in the Golden State, potentially from June 2018. As many as 42 companies have already placed self-driving cars on the road in the state, including General Motors and Google, but as yet none of the cars has been empty, with humans inside to monitor them at all times. We are on the cusp of a genuine transportation revolution. Many vehicles have been considered partly self-driving for some time now, thanks to the advent of technologies such as lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. However, we are still some years away from an autonomous vehicle that’s considered a “Level 5” on the scale created by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the level which is designed to operate entirely autonomously and not to be driven regularly by humans.

Self-driving car tests are also pencilled in for New York in early 2018 too. General Motors and Cruise Automation, which General Motors acquired for over $1bn back in 2016, have confirmed that they will be testing out locations throughout the hectic streets of Manhattan as a stiff test of the capabilities of even semi-autonomous vehicles. When you combine the increasing number of potholes throughout Manhattan, the prospect of encountering double and even triple-parked roadways, as well as oncoming vehicle and pedestrian traffic, if self-driving vehicles are going to succeed there is no better place to ensure its robust operations than in NYC.

Although we’re quite some way from independent car dealerships having access to autonomous vehicles, the increasing awareness of the self-driving features of new-generation cars – such as automatic parking, lane-keep assistance and comprehensive steering-assist systems – will see older drivers, such as those with physical impingements, increasingly opt for vehicles with these transformative technologies.

Technology is now moving at such a pace that it’s becoming very difficult to keep up with retail trends! Nevertheless, we can safely say that these three innovations discussed will continue to marvel consumers in the months and years to come.

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