Accelerate - March 2015

Three tech trends shaping the future

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Dr Dean Peterson, Callaghan Innovation’s group manager national technology networks, explains which three areas of technology are the ones to watch this year, and why.

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Big data and analytics

The total amount and speed at which data is collected is increasing each day. The ways in which this data can be shared and analysed are growing exponentially. Through the use of big data and analytics, there is potential to improve many routine decisions and give insight to strategic initiatives. All of this signals enormous growth potential in the IT industry that harnesses big data for beneficial use. To get there we will need to address how data is created, delivered, stored, and processed, while addressing complex privacy issues.

To keep up with the current growth rate of data and processing, one of two possible technological disruptions is needed. The first is on the hardware side, through a new storage or processing technology. The second, more feasible, path is innovation in software. Areas of possible improvement include reducing the amount of data to be processed by bet­ter compression, early detection of irrelevant data, and more effective sampling. Unfortunately, companies all over the world have reported a talent shortage to address the big data initiatives, which may also be our largest issue for big data companies in New Zealand.

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UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

There has been a large increase in the technological development of UAVs and miniaturisation of ICT hardware. The outcome will be an enormous growth in the way that UAVs are looked at and used in the near future.

The agritech industry is already involved in a number of uses of UAVs. The areas with the most potential are in land monitoring (moisture, nutrients, fencing conditions, livestock location and livestock condition) and the herding of livestock, as well as the fertilisation and harvesting of fields.

The film industry is already using UAVs for new camera angles and this is expected to increase in the future, with an increased use for landscape rendering in particular. Finally, the service industry is investigating the use of UAVs for service delivery and as a tool to use during emergency situations.

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The world of wearables is expanding at an exponential rate – within the health, fitness, and social connection sectors. Wearables have started their reign in the fitness sector with fitness monitors of all sorts. Along with the fitness area, the health sector has started looking at wearables as implants and for at-home patient monitoring. Personal connections are another area of focus for wearables, where family members have direct connections with remote loved ones.

New Zealand company StretchSense has been making headlines with their international award-winning wearable tech product. There are quite a few other new and innovative Kiwi companies also making inroads in this space, such as Footfalls & Heartbeats, I Measure U and meMINI.

Updated: 4 September 2015