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Tech trends for 2018

Keen to know what will be big in 2018? We asked one of Lenovo’s tech experts about what to look out for.

AR you ready for 2018?

Augmented reality (AR) has become huge in the last couple of years, mostly due to the success of mobile games like Pokémon Go. And with the firm behind Pokémon Go working on a Harry Potter game, we can expect to see plenty more of AR – and its cousin, virtual reality (VR) – in the coming year. In fact, 171 million people are expected to use a consumer VR device this year. And it will be huge in the business world too.

For real estate agents, AR will enable them to show property remotely. As well as taking a virtual tour of the house and grounds, you could potentially stroll around the whole neighbourhood. “It will be very useful for overseas buyers, because they could visit a potential property without leaving the country,” says Sylvain Ansart, Technical Architect, EMEA Global Acquisition at Lenovo.

Some real estate agents have already been issued with kits consisting of a pair of VR goggles and a 360-degree camera. However, right now it’s a proof-of-concept rather than for everyday use. But with prices coming down all the time, it could soon be as much a part of a real estate agent’s get-up as a shirt and tie.

AR and VR will also be used more extensively in industry, especially for repairing machinery. Here, the two technologies complement each other.

“With VR, you can create a whole 3D model of a piece of machinery that you can’t normally get hold of – something huge like a plane engine,” Ansart says. “It’s great for training simulations. But AR is more useful for working on smaller devices, because it can superimpose instructions or diagrams onto the wearer’s view.”

Of all the emerging technologies around right now, nothing gets a response like AR and VR. “It’s very exciting because there’s no limit,” Ansart says. “The only limit is in the minds of the people creating the programmes. Each time I visit a customer to talk about VR/AR, they have a new idea about it. They have plenty of ways to use the technology, so we will see it used in all sorts of different ways.”

Some people even think that AR glasses might be the future of the displaying device. We know that today the smartphone is more used than the standard laptop to access the internet, and while smartwatches have not reached their expected level of success, AR could be the next big thing. Privacy will be perfect (with access limited to the user) and the display size will be limitless.

Belt and braces: Security improvements coming your way

Security will continue to be a hot topic for enterprise. Thankfully there are some breakthroughs in the pipeline that should make things more secure.

5G, for example, is due to land throughout Europe in 2018. The wireless technology is being touted as so fast it could even replace private Wi-Fi networks as the de facto way to get online. “Some people are thinking of relying solely on 5G, so it could be the end of private Wi-Fi networks,” Ansart says. “Maybe that’s a good thing, as it could solve some of the security issues around private and public Wi-Fi.”

More devices will be equipped with infrared cameras for facial recognition, and we’ll see a rise in two-factor authentication, not only in devices, but built into websites. That will be due to the (of which Lenovo is a founding member) really taking off. “The idea has been around for a while, but we’ve been waiting for the seventh and eighth-generation Intel chips to arrive,” Ansart says. “With the seventh-generation CPUs rolling out now, expect to hear a lot more about FIDO this year.”

Fingerprint authentication will also become much more secure. This is because your fingerprint data will be isolated within the chip itself when validated, instead of being sent to the operating system and checked there. That means there’s none of your fingerprint data in your device or on your active directory, so there’s less chance of it being compromised. At the same time, it makes the biometric method more easily compliant to local laws on privacy.

C-ing into the future

USB Type-C will be much more mainstream, as it slowly replaces USB Type-A. “It’s been slow to overtake Type-A because there are still a lot of Type-A devices around, and we didn’t want to lose that market,” Ansart says. “But all ThinkPads will use Type-C from this year.” As well as being faster, Type-C can charge your device and send data at the same time. It’s also universal, so it will work with machines made by other manufacturers.

The eSIM will arrive this year too. This will store all the data electronically, negating the need to move a SIM card from one device to another. Changing country or device? Just reprogram your eSIM.

We’ll also see mice with fingerprint scanners built in for use with desktop PCs. “There’s no other obvious place for it on a desktop, so the mouse makes perfect sense,” Ansart says.

2018 will be an exciting year for technology. Be sure to stay on top of the latest trends so your business can go from strength to strength.