3 ways tech will change our day-to-day lives in 2017

Jan 4 2017, 9:03 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director of the DMZ at Ryerson University. Connect with him on Twitter at @asnobar.

With every new year comes new predictions for what may lie ahead.

This is no different in the world of technology.

Yet, this year the conversation has shifted towards how new trends in technology will transform how we do our job and live our lives at a pace – and scale – never seen before. We’re witnessing tremendous growth in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) along with many noticeable developments in industries like retail.

Here are three ways tech is changing our day-to-day lives.

Artificial Intelligence

AI began as algorithms that would automate manual tasks, but as systems have advanced, AI is performing and learning with human-like capabilities, using historical data to predict future tasks. AI will continue to adapt and has the potential to operate autonomously in the near future. AI has become part of daily life – for example, map apps that remember your most visited places or routes taken – and we usually don’t even think twice about its presence.

The most widely recognized intelligent app that functions as a personal assistant is Siri, acquired by Apple in 2010. Now, less than seven years after Siri’s introduction to Apple customers, it’s hard to find a business application without AI, whether it’s for scheduling, marketing or even booking a hotel.

For example, SnapTravel, a DMZ alumni startup, is a half-robot, half-human travel agent that allows customers to find and book the perfect hotel room using messaging platforms like Whatsapp or Facebook. Virtual personal and customer assistants are transforming the workplace and customer experiences, making life a touch easier.

Advanced Virtual Reality

Virtual and augmented reality will continue to blend the digital and physical worlds. We will start to see virtual and augmented reality used in modern business models, from remote communication to training staff. A current DMZ startup, Pinch VR, allows individuals to get a visual and physical experience with their handheld controllers or as Pinch VR calls them ‘pinchers’ that go beyond the sometimes shallow visual-only experience.

Many industries can benefit from advanced VR, especially where efficiency is concerned. Imagine your real estate agent showing you new homes using VR to narrow down the homes you’d like to see in person – what a time saver! Picture test driving multiple cars using VR and controllers that simulate actually driving on the road, without having to physically take every car on the road. VR is moving in a direction that is beyond isolated, individual experiences. Entire rooms and spaces will become active and immersive virtual worlds.

Changing landscapes

Over 50% of North Americans (67% for millennials) prefer shopping online. This new year marks the beginning of the end of the wallet. More stores will introduce Apple Pay as a way to purchase items. ‘Mobile’ payments using watches, other wearables and cell phones will reduce the need for consumers to grab cards from their wallets. Other innovations are changing the way we shop in stores. Klothed allows customers to see how a piece of clothing looks on them without having to go into a retail store change room. Efficiency and technology will continue to go hand-in-hand to produce profound changes.

There’s no doubt that automation will have a massive impact on our lives, but is it all positive change? While AI, VR, and other intelligent machines are doing incredible things like creating efficiencies and making aspects of life far more convenient, they’re also amplifying the need for a change in the job market. The unfortunate reality is that 42% of jobs may become obsolete due to automation – the replacement of workers with technology – within the next two decades and some post-secondary students are pursuing careers that may not need a human touch. With this becoming a growing reality, we must ask – are we ready for the economic and social implications of automation? And if we’re not, how do we get businesses, business leaders, educators, and society at large to help humans make a shift in capitalizing on what they can do in a world that is beginning to embrace automation over human capability?

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