We are living in an era that is witnessing the traditional cities turning into ‘smart cities’ with the technology penetrating at abnormal speeds. As we are moving closer to the beginning of a new year, there is a bubbling curiosity in the air about the technologies that will push the current advancements to further progress – continuing the transformative change.
In 2018, the tech world in the smart cities observed the development and gradual penetration of technologies like IoT, AI, Cloud computing, and of course Blockchain. Now, in 2019 the same technologies will surface as integrative technologies. They are set to play a more powerful role aiming at disrupting the marketplace while remodelling the consumer tech reality.
We look into the top 3 breakthroughs and hope that these will not just bring the latest state-of-the-art infrastructure in smart cities but also make them more secure, sustainable, and happening places to live in.
1. Blockchain-driven Identity And Privacy
The growing data breaches in a densely interconnected world is posing new questions to the security of individual privacy and identity. So, the technology of blockchain which comes about with its core existence to provide a solid, incorruptible, encrypted record-keeping will prove to be a game changer.
For example, most of the online transactions performed using platforms like Amazon Pay, PayPal, etc. require an individual to disclose personal and financial details before you can access their services. Every time you sign in to the site, your personal details get stored on numerous databases that are open to access to the online platforms you transact with. Hence, if blockchain is used for shopping security both online and in person it can protect your privacy. A startup called Shopin has developed a “universal shopper profile” that is secured by blockchain. Shopin limits its data acquisition and allows the sharing only to those entities that consumers wish to share their data with – as opposed to the big transaction platforms that scrutinise and share the stored purchase histories. Shopin has also come up with a new wave that allows customers to get economically benefited by receiving Shopin tokens for viewing ads – unlike those that benefit the companies.
Another interesting thing will be that blockchain will enable individuals to create encrypted digital identities leaving behind the current trend of creating multiple usernames and passwords. This will lead to a more comprehensive security feature that will allow customers to transact online without any worries while saving the valuable time and resources of customers as well as organisations.
Furthermore, blockchain can be deployed to protect the identity of individuals from theft thereby reducing the fraudulent activities. In the years to come, blockchain is anticipated to help businesses develop robust blockchains that manage the challenges pertaining to authentication and reconciliation. In addition, individuals can also create a self-sovereign identity on the blockchain which refers to an individual identity that is entirely controlled and maintained personally by the user. The chances of stealing such an identity from an individual are next to zero.
It is most likely that this transformative change will be a top-down approach where businesses will have to take the lead in implementing the new technology.
2. Artificial Intelligence In Dual Role
The next big thing anticipated to disrupt the tech world is ‘AI duelling’ which in the technical language is known as “generative adversarial networks” or “GANs”. This brainchild came to Ian Goodfellow while he was a PhD student at the University of Montreal and shared his idea in an academic debate in 2014.
To make it very simple, AI duelling is an approach that will make AI even more powerful and intelligent by integrating it with another AI. Taking the case of creating a realistic image, one AI called the generator is tasked to create the image it has seen in the real world and another AI called the discriminator is asked to examine whether the image produced by the generator AI is real or fake. To be clear, both the AIs are trained on the same datasets. In the course, the generator AI becomes better and produces images with more perfection which makes it difficult for the discriminator AI to spot any fakes. Importantly, the generator AI has been trained to recognise and learn to create realistic images of the real objects.
Creating and identifying images is just one arena where AI duelling system can be implemented. There are many other examples like voices, video or sounds where AI duelling can be made to work. This technology can transform the online verification process that includes technology like CAPTCHA, that requires real people to identify the objects or numbers given from a combination of different photos. Over time, AI duelling can become more accurate with independent “self-improvement” and may also lead to innovations in the field of healthcare, transportation, technology, and other important sectors of smart cities. Tech giants like Amazon and Alibaba are already executing research in using the integrative dual role of AI.
3. 3D Printers That Print Metal
We have already discussed the increasing popularity of 3D printers that can print plastics, basic materials and prefabricated sections of a building (making it ready for on-site installations). But here comes the next big wave in the 3D printing industry that claims to print anything made out of metal.
Metal 3D printers have come aboard with the capabilities to print lighter, stronger, and more complex metal objects that are otherwise impossible to achieve by the conventional metal fabrication method. This is a cheaper and faster way to print metal objects while offering more accurate control of the microstructure of metals. In 2017, a team of researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory revealed that they have created a 3D printing technology that can print stainless steel components that two times stronger compared to the conventionally fabricated counterparts.
HP is working on offering its very first ‘Jet Fusion Model’ which can help in printing metal parts for the manufacturing sector. Another 3D printing company called Markforged launched its first 3D printer for under $100,000 in the US. On the other side, GE has already been printing metal fuel nozzles for its Leap jet engines and Nike is printing metal cleats.
Coming to its benefits in different industries, 3D metal printing can bring a big change in toy and jewelry business. Be it small or medium-sized businesses, if they deploy 3D printers to create beautiful things, they will no longer need a factory. Additionally, manufacturers can also avoid the maintenance of large inventories.
As time advances and 3D metal printing reaches every industry, it may soon become a product in-demand for consumers. Consumers would surely want to spend money on 3D printers to print electronic devices right from the home if they can save a substantial amount of cost and time on the purchase, shipping and so on. Although this might take several years to become a reality – it makes sense.
Maybe the way technology is taking shape is unimaginable. But the key is that all 3 technologies discussed here will undoubtedly change the way businesses are operated. It will also allow people to live a different and more comfortable life in the coming years. But right now, all we need to do is just sit back and enjoy the fascinating technologies disrupting lives in smart cities.