July 17, 2018 | 4-minute read (655 words)
Generally, the term “frontier tech” is used to describe the industries pushing the boundaries of technological capabilities and adoption, including artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, augmented/virtual reality, robotics, autonomous vehicles, space, and genomics. We’ve recently written about automation in warehousing, autonomous vehicles, and the new industrial revolution that we believe is just around the corner. Those technologies employ some facets of frontier tech. Let’s take a look at some more of the bleeding-edge concepts.
Grouping together technologies that employ machine learning, AI technology offers increased efficiency and manipulation of big data. Applications range wildly, from smart email inboxes (see our case study for our client Astro) and alerting you of unusual traffic on your commute to smart personal assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri and advanced autopilot flying you most of the way from NYC to LA.
Advanced AI is enabling financial analysis. For example, our client Alpha Vertex uses deep learning and data mining algorithms to analyze millions of data points and the connections between them. Applications include forecasting stock returns at multiple intervals, with predictive accuracy, to create profitable trading strategies.
The healthcare industry is primed for AI-enabled improvements. Recently, Stanford University trained a neural network to distinguish malignant melanomas from benign skin lesions. The resulting algorithm performed as well as dermatologists in identifying skin cancer. By scanning millions of medical images in a day, AI can not only eliminate a backlog of data, but also increase the pace of operations.
Internet of Things
IoT refers to the system of connected devices embedded with sensors and software, like wearable devices (Apple Watch and Fitbit), smart energy devices (Nest), and smart home appliances (so you can tell Alexa “Goodnight” and she’ll turn off the living room lights and turn on your bedside lamps).
Researchers recently developed electronic circuit stickers—another step in being able to create a modular system of connectivity, so you can peel and stick sensors to any number of things.
IoT promises great gains in agriculture—an industry that's struggling to produce an increasing population's food source-as much as a 70% increase by 2050, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The IoT is set to accelerate farming: Farmers are already using in-field sensors to monitor and react to soil temperature, acidity, and hydration. By using multiple data points enables a farmer to target the right amount of water and fertilizer for each area of the field.
Augmented and virtual realities have been big players in the gaming industry for years but have caught on with the non-gaming public with irresistible filters in Snap and Instagram, where you can make heart bubbles float out of your mouth by raising your eyebrows. We’ll be seeing more AR/VR in our lives. Facebook just announced that it’s testing AR ads in the news feed: Users can try on a pair of Michael Kors sunglasses using AR effects.
The final frontier! As we move from government-sponsored space programs to those funded by companies, the pace at which milestones are achieved has quickened: We’re doing more, and we’re going faster and farther. SpaceX and Blue Origin have been rallying enthusiasm about space exploration that had been in short supply in recent years, and Virgin Galactic recently announced plans to open a commercial spaceport in Italy. Planetary Resources not only focuses on mining asteroids, but is also embarking on the world’s first commercial deep space exploration program to find water to enable human expansion in space.
We’re excited to work with companies that are bold enough to push the boundaries of what humanity can do. Stay tuned for more case studies as we highlight more of our amazing clients!
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