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The Hottest Tech Trends in 2019? Watch Out for Smart Transportation, Smart Retail, and Smart Industry Driven by Edge AI

This blog post was originally published at VIA Technologies' website. It is reprinted here with the permission of VIA Technologies.

It’s difficult to predict the future of technology, but VIA is involved in several of the key technologies that will drive innovation in 2019.

When we think of the technology trends that defined 2018, then ‘digital transformation’, ‘cloud computing’, ‘AI’, ‘Machine Learning’ and ‘IoT’ spring to mind. So what about 2019?

Smart Transportation

Will this be the year that smart transportation finally takes off? As an ongoing trend, smart transportation, which encompasses everything from autonomous urban buses, trams, trains, through to the increasing volume of smart fleet and private vehicles on the roads, is very much on the rise.

In many ways smart transportation is the perfect storm, bringing together convenience for end users, lower costs for operators and often wrapping in regulatory compliance for good measure. The technology is also fast maturing, from onboard enhanced AI offerings capable of maintaining vital safety margins, through to rapidly shrinking sensors. Consider that the first practical LIDAR units were roof-mounted crates; now they’re the size of a matchbox.

VIA’s compact Mobile360 M820 ADAS system is integrated into one of the world’s first autonomous electric buses; the Enchi Self-Driving EV Bus, which was demonstrated in April 2018. The Edge AI ADAS cameras, in this instance, deliver vital safety measures including Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Speed Limit Detection features.

All eyes on robots

The ever-dynamic space of robotics and professional drones is set to be a genuine innovation crucible in 2019. Improved data capabilities (incorporating both 5G and 802.11ax Wi-Fi) together with Edge AI and vastly improved cameras will come together to deliver far superior navigation and mapping capabilities.

A key area here is the growth in depth-sensing cameras, which enable drones and robots to map their surroundings in 3D, either for navigational purposes, or to plot an area for Augmented Reality (AR) or mapping purposes.

VIA has partnered with AI vision startup Lucid to deliver AI-based depth sensing capabilities to dual- and multi-camera devices in this space, embedding Lucid’s advanced 3D Fusion Technology into the VIA Edge AI 3D Developer Kit. The tight integration saves enterprise developers significant time at the revenue-intensive startup phase and enables the fast scaling required for depth sensing natively.

Smarter cameras, Smarter engagement

Digital security will inevitably play a key role in 2019, in all areas of business. Recent innovations in camera technology have made facial recognition a viable technology in hundreds of public spaces and businesses worldwide, and 2019 will see this trend broaden.

Arguably the fastest growing sector will be automated detection and analysis, building on facial recognition technology to deliver emotion, behavioural and also object-based detection.

Systems such as the VIA ALTA DS 3 and VIA ARTiGO A920 are already in active use in China for VIP customer engagement programs. These enable retailers to ensure their highest value customers receive the best incentives available to ensure loyalty and optimise repeat conversions.

Industrial IoT comes of age

Industrial IoT is set to be an ongoing trend in 2019, as wireless sensors improve in reliability, increasingly miniaturize and the associated control and monitoring systems mature. From tiny ultrasonic sensors monitoring the frequencies emitted by heavy machinery, to real-time edge intelligence platforms like FogHorn Lightning (that monitor electric current profiles), the business of identifying predictive maintenance issues, such as under-lubricated machinery is becoming increasingly automated.

The benefits of this trend cannot be understated, minimising downtime due to unscheduled maintenance, as well as reducing operating costs by identifying issues before they become catastrophic failures. The ability to schedule urgent major works tasks for non-business critical periods is particularly attractive, especially as industry increasingly moves to just-in-time and 24-hour-style operations to maximise revenue.

Overall, 2019 is likely to see considerable evolution across these key areas, and while many early adopters are firmly entrenched in their verticals, these sectors are still maturing fast. Late movers can harness the power of potent SDKs and dev kits (such as the VIA Edge AI and VIA Edge AI 3D Developer Kits) that can accelerate initial learnings and establish that vital early foothold.