Duncan Logan: The top tech trends to watch out for in 2017

Virtual reality headsets will beome an increasingly common educational tool, says Duncan Logan. Picture: Frantzesco Kangaris/PA Wire

Virtual reality headsets will beome an increasingly common educational tool, says Duncan Logan. Picture: Frantzesco Kangaris/PA Wire

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Duncan Logan knows a thing or two about identifying tech innovations ready for take off.

The St Andrews-born entrepreneur founded RocketSpace, a respected US technology accelerator, in 2011.

St Andrews-born Duncan Logan founded RocketSpace in San Francisco in 2011. Picture: Contributed

St Andrews-born Duncan Logan founded RocketSpace in San Francisco in 2011. Picture: Contributed

So far 17 so-called “unicorns” – business start-ups valued at more than $1 billion – have passed through its doors.

Logan has shared with The Scotsman the eight tech trends he expects to grow in 2017.

Voice controlling the home

“Connecting the home is an enormous opportunity. Soon, speaking to your tech interface will seem the norm. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple are all investing heavily and the spoils will be huge. From kids checking their homework, to asking what the weather is tomorrow, turning up some music, or reordering kitchen towels for delivery, the keypad is heading the way of the typewriter. Voice is the new interface and we will see much more of it in 2017.”

From electric cars to driverless energy storage

“Petrolheads know their days are numbered as electric cars continue to add distance and speed to their performance. But there are many approaches to electric cars. BMW need to have an electric vehicle in its range, but others view the car merely as a computer on wheels.

“The energy industry is a big opportunity and a battery that can drive itself is disruption on an enormous scale – whether there is a human in the vehicle is irrelevant. 2017 will see the continued advancement of battery-powered vehicles and autonomous control. The end result is a game changer – practically free transport for everyone and everything alongside a distributed grid of mobile energy.”

Live streaming kills voicemail

“If 93 per cent of what you communicate is non-verbal, then a video message could be better than a voicemail.

“Video exploded in 2016 and is likely to continue its rampage in 2017.

“Better technology and faster connection speeds are making video more efficient over mobile devices.

“You’re more likely to respond to a dentist’s reminder if it’s sent via video.”

Banking continues to be unbundled

“It’s said there are two ways to create a tech startup – bundle or unbundle. Banking is being unbundled. From foreign exchange, to peer-to-peer lending, the sophistication of start-ups is growing.

“As they grow, people will realise the inefficiencies of conventional banks. 2017 will continue to be painful for them as they face continued pressure from start-ups disrupting finance one service at a time.”

Security... or a lack of it

“There are two types of companies in the world – those that know they have been hacked, and those that don’t. The same can be said for humans. With so much of our lives now connected, we learn of hacking attacks into deeper parts of our lives. Humans need to take more responsibility for their online content. Your car has locks – but you wouldn’t leave a laptop on the seat. A little savvy behaviour will protect most of us.”

Tech in tough places

“Innovation flows like water – it takes the easiest route first. So we have seen the digital industries most impacted by tech innovation first. But now the tougher places are being attacked.

“Regulated industries such as finance, education and health care are now being disrupted, Tech innovation in agriculture is less obvious to the everyday person, but watching drones spray crops in China, or with the rapid advancement of protein alternatives to animal-based proteins, you know change is on the way. Scotland’s grass fed free range organic options are a far cry from most of the world’s methods and, as production costs drop, an increasing amount of what we eat will be manufactured rather than reared. Tech is eating what we eat.”

Trusting the Blockchain

“One of the internet’s biggest challenges has been trust. Is your iPhone charger from Apple or some fraudulent producer? Are the pork chops delivered to your home really from an organic farm? Blockchain is the trust mechanism the internet has been waiting for and soon everything you buy, sign or sell will have a record in the blockchain that someone or thing can authenticate. Bringing authenticity to the internet will change everything and brands with reputations to protect will be all over it. Bitcoin was a starter project for the blockchain which has done well and continues to do so.”

Virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence

“With enough computing power and enough data anything is possible. Virtual reality (VR) and artifical intelligence (AI) seem to be everywhere, but 2016 was a breakout year. Pokemon Go gave a needed boost to augmented reality, and the wide use of bots show what AI can deliver. Increasingly, our lives will have an added layer of intelligence mostly available via the camera on our mobile phone. In the same way children sometimes try and swipe the screen on a TV as they would on an iPhone, we will soon see kids hold a phone up to a statue to read an additional information layer. Eventually the phones will disappear – just like the filofax or digital cameras – and our VR headset device will become the norm.”

READ MORE: Tech accelerator RocketSpace looks to take off in Scotland

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