Technology in 2021

What's happening in Technology today? VoIP? Still viable, but we kicked that off in Winchester 15 years ago. The world of technology is changing so rapidly right now it would be easy to miss it if you didn't know where to look.

Here are a few 2021 highlights:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) - and the initiatives of the open source OpenAI project and privately held companies like C3 AI - is changing the landscape of software design, modular AI solutions for enterprise applications, advertising and social media to name a few industries. AI is also fueling the future of what has been termed Fully Self-Driving vehicles or FSD.

These future FSD solutions, lead by companies like Tesla and Alphabet/Google's Waymo in the US are primarily Electronic Vehicles (EVs). EVs are also pushing the current boundaries of technology and will require a new evolution of processing, intelligence and battery technology (some say this will be solid state technology) to reach the affordability of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. Many FSD solutions will also require AI and cloud-based technologies. Although Tesla's Autopilot design is heavily invested in using a video-based AI system, other manufacturers have opted for AI, radar and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) solutions. To date, GM has partnered with Microsoft and Ford has partnered with Google to provide cloud-computing and AI solutions to support the future of FSD.

Computer Processors (CPUs) are also changing before our eyes. This began with demand for thinner, more powerful smartphones. As handhelds, AI and cloud technologies create new requirements for a digital transformation, the prior world leader Intel has failed to keep pace with the latest manufacturing requirements of sub-10nm thickness and will need to re-tool to keep pace. Emerging technologies are creating great demand for high density and low-power consumption processors like the Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) architecture and chips based on ARM such as Apple's M1 and the Amazon AWS Graviton that both outperform Intel's x86 architecture. Companies like Apple, Amazon and NVIDIA are "fabless" and must rely on manufactures like Taiwan Semiconductor who in turn rely on the manufacturing solutions of companies like the US-based Applied Materials. There is currently a world-wide semiconductor shortage created by scaled-down production during the COVID lock downs and greater demand.

Augmented Reality (AR) began with military applications and is already available within apps on your smartphone that can repaint walls on the screen with a touch and virtually superimpose potential furniture purchases on your living room. The next iteration will be integrated into your eye wear. What we first saw publicly as the Google Glass product has been expanded and packaged for resale by companies like Vuzix. Those solutions are being used today in industrial and educational applications and already support applications such as Microsoft Teams. It is rumored that Apple is currently developing AR-enabled glasses for the masses.

AR is not to be confused with Virtual Reality (VR). Where AR "overlays" data onto real time perspectives of the real world, VR is a completely virtual world produced by specialized graphics processors in a headset. These combined realities have now been termed the Metaverse. In a sense, the metaverse has been popularized by games like Fortnite and Roblox, but has already been extended to social media sites like Facebook via the Oculus product family and will undoubtedly expand into other parts of our lives.

It is true that there are many other technologies shaping our future. Although they may not be within our scope, some of those are the now ubiquitous mRNA treatments that could one day cure cancer, the evolution of financial technology we see in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and new financial technologies in digital payments, a new evolution of more accurate long sequencing of DNA and the impending introduction of private space travel later this year. The future is amazing today!

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