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11 technologies developers should explore now

Paul Heltzel | April 25, 2017
From machine learning to digital twins, opportunities abound in emerging (and converging) tech trends.

Christian Sasso, adjunct professor of the VR/AR Certificate program at San Jose-based Cogswell College, sees augmented reality as the most important tech trend of the year.

“AR can soon be used to deal with customer service for when an enterprise device needs repairing,” Sasso says. “For instance, a project I’ve been working on uses AR glasses to contact the customer service adviser when a television or monitor stops working. Directly talking to her through the AR interface, the representative can find the information she needs by simply looking at the broken screen, without any need to try and describe the problem over the phone, or go hunting for a serial number.”

The potential for AR and VR is dependent on distribution and won’t be prevalent until we see better, cheaper hardware, says Vishwa Ranjan, head of augmented and virtual reality at Infosys.

“In 2017 we’ll see smartphone companies develop AR- and VR-based features, like image-recognition-based, location-based, and sensor-based technologies, and 360 cameras that will help to push AR and VR out into early adopter’s hands.”


Humanlike assistants

The next stage of AI could eliminate the clunky tools we now use to interact with the digital world. Importantly, these changes are also increasingly making their way into the office.

“The workplace of the future is integrating intelligent apps into the day-to-day workplace to enhance overall productivity. We’re seeing significant levels of automation in IT that are driving 40 to 50 percent productivity improvements,” says Steve Hall, a partner at research firm ISG. “With the broad movement of enterprise workloads to the public cloud and the integration of automation and intelligent applications, IT organizations are being reshaped.”

In the personal realm, Apcera’s Collison thinks we’ll soon use assistants to do more than order online or search the web: “It will be the tool that is an extension of our own brains. We will no longer need to retain information as much; we can be free to drive analytical and critical thinking using these tools as aids.”

What should you work on if you’re interested in developing this sort of assistive tech?

“In a word, the skills most in demand today are depth,” says Gunter Ollmann, chief security officer at Vectra. “An example is mastery of a category of information security (web app security, network forensics, malware disassembly). The superficial, book-read knowledge is increasingly encapsulated in off-the-shelf tools. The subject matter expertise that drives the improvement of those tools and exception handling are the skills most in demand.”

David Parmenter, director of engineering and data for Adobe Document Cloud, says a passion for math and logic—even more than a computer science degree—is key.

“Creativity, the drive to continually learn, customer-centric thinking, resilience in the face of failure—the nature of machine learning output is not a finished product—and strong communication skills are very important soft skills for engineers in this field.


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