7 Tech Trends You Should Pay Attention to in 2019

It's easy to get lost in the jungle of various new technologies every year. Here are seven tech trends leaders should keep top of mind going in to 2019.

Technology changes societies,the  ways we consume, live, and work. What can you expect withtech development in the coming year? Here is what the Head of Research for Telenor, Bjørn Taale Sandberg, points out:

1. Deepfake - Too good to be true?

Deepfake is when deep learning meets fake news (manipulated pictures and videos). 

"For those who remember the masks of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, we can now say that in cyberspace, this is no longer a mission impossible," says Bjørn Taale Sandberg, Telenor's Head of Research.

In 2019, we will see more "deepfakes" as it is already working hard with algorithms called generative adversarial networks. A plethora of variants are emerging, and the systems as a whole are learning a lot faster. These are the algorithms that will enable the creation of deepfake content so advanced that we could have a difficult time differentiating between what’s real and what’s fake in the digital world.

"If people have struggled to distinguish fake from true news on social media before, it's possible that the boundaries  will become even more blurred in 2019. We will probably see acceleration of the development of media forensic tools and techniques to safeguard democratic processes. For businesses, this trend means that in 2019, internet service providers, mobile operators and regulators will increasingly take steps to mitigate deepfake material and we will see awareness campaigns about deepfake," Sandberg predicts.

2. An eye on AI

In 2017, Telenor predicted that one day, artificial intelligence (AI) ethics, would be up for discussions. That time has come.

"In the coming year, we will see public and private bodies setting AI governance frameworks and adopting new codes of conduct to ensure that they operate with high ethical standards. This will be done in order to ensure that AI systems are non-discriminatory, transparent, traceable and secure, and that there are always humans in the loop who are accountable for its design, development and adoption. Enabling this, we will also see new venues for AI dialogues happening at all levels of politics, new platforms for education and training in AI, as well as investments in tools and systems that enable ethical AI development,” Sandberg says.

Some may think that comprehensive ethical regulations can inhibit innovation. Many successful environments for AI in the US and China can grow faster and innovate at a higher pace in the absence of such oversight vs. stricter regulated parts of the world, such as Europe.

"Yet, we see AI governance as vital to sustainable innovation and uptake and acceleration of AI in business. In the end, these autonomous systems need to solve problems for people in a secure, robust and reliable way; proactive monitoring and governance structures for ethical use of AI will aim to ensure that,” Sandberg adds.

"At the top, one can say there are two ways to fail with AI – AI without ethics and just ethics.”

3. 5G environments to see daylight

In 2017, it was all about 5G testing. In 2018, we saw pioneering uses of 5G – like the 5G drone coverage of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. And coming in 2019, we’ll see “5G islands” emerge across the world as large-scale pilots and trials – from Europe to North America and northeast Asia – connect selected communities and business networks.

"Digitising societies has been a buzzword among operators, industry bodies and governments over the past few years, but 2019 will be the first year when communities will experience what this actually means, taking towns like Norway’s Kongsberg, a 5G pilot town, as a first example. Here, both business and industry, such as Coop, the The Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation and Applied Autonomy, are part of the pilot, as well as five families who tests broadband and TV services via 5G in their homes,” says Sandberg.

Though 2020 is the year that 5G’s global standard will release, 2019 will see commercial advances in 5G, which we see in the United States and areas of Asia already. We’ll also see some of the first marketing campaigns based on 5G.

“From the first self-driving, 5G-steered buses to automated fisheries, from 5G-driven TV and fixed broadband to potential applications of 5G-powered remote surgery – the 5G floodgates will open in 2019, paving the way for commercial services to hit the market in 2020.

“From the first self-driving, 5G-steered buses to automated fisheries, from 5G-driven TV and fixed broadband to potential applications of 5G-powered remote surgery – the 5G floodgates will open in 2019, paving the way for commercial services to hit the market in 2020,” an enthusiastic Sandberg adds.

4. A new industrial era for the Internet of Things?

"We think 2019 will be the year when industrial IoT customers crack the transition from proof-of-concepts, which we’ve seen in recent years and months, to large scale commercial deployments in low-power wide-area (LPWA) ecosystems. We expect the LPWA ecosystem to blossom this year in particular, enabling larger industrial applications which to date haven’t matured quickly. As the LPWA ecosystem matures and as developers have vetted much of its tech stack, we can expect to see industries roll out large scale IoT, particularly within the arenas of smart cities, industrial manufacturing and process industries, such as shipping, traffic and transport monitoring and fisheries. In short, IoT is going industrial in 2019,” Sandberg predicts.

On the backend, it is becoming clearer how different connectivity technologies serve different use cases. Examples include LTE networks for CCTV and automotive, which are already widespread; LTE-M for logistics; NB-IoT for metering – and many more use cases for each. Though the question on which IoT technologies will scale furthest and fastest remains, one thing is clear – LPWA IoT networks will get more than their share of the spotlight in 2019 and beyond.

5. Chatbots become a part of the family

The sobering reality of how hard it’s been to work with text-based chatbots has killed a lot of large-scale attempts. 

“We predict that voice-enabled chatbots will do better in 2019 - mainly in home appliances. They are still not as good as they can be, but as they become more advanced, we can expect to have more chatbots as a natural part of the household than before," says Sandberg. 

Next year, a strong growth in voice-driven chatbots will be launched. It’s possible that by this time next year, domestic chatbots will be at the top of 2019’s holiday wish lists in many markets around the world.


6. Careful screen use paves the way for the comeback of the flip-phones

Awareness of screen time and its effects on us is becoming widespread. Following some early movers, people will increasingly use screen time tracking apps, night-time and do-not-disturb modes on phones, as developers tune the smartphone experience to enable us to manage our use of these devices.

"Developments in the marketplace as a result of increased screen time awareness and discipline will snowball in 2019. Beyond new apps and software, we could see more stringent limits on screen time in various social and professional settings. Mobile-free meals with family and friends, and mobile-free meetings are certainly becoming more common. Whatever the case, this latest burst of screen time products and campaigns by private industry go a long way to raise awareness," says Sandberg.

Moreover, people concerned with their own personal screen time but don’t want to disconnect altogether could opt for simpler connectivity. We could see this in the form of wearables, other small connected devices and even flip phones.

7. Green technology flourishes

A virtuous cycle in green consumption, awareness and green tech development will take shape in 2019, given a boost in large part by mobile technology. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s late 2018 report came as a wake-up call to those not already paying attention. As climate change worries and awareness of consumption both skyrocket in society, a wave of mobile-driven green technology will help people live and consume more smartly than ever. In 2019, this wave will reach its much needed crest.

"Oslo is becoming a bellwether of greentech’s ability to reach scale. The increasing popularity of products and services like Too Good To Go, which cuts down on food waste, car-sharing platforms, bicycle-only food delivery services, Tesla and electric cars (close to 30 percent of new cars in Norway are electric in 2018) prove that consumers are highly receptive to greentech, if not outright demanding it. And aggressive disincentives -taxes and tolls on environmentally unfriendly transport and consumption provide the knock-out punch to environmental apathy in Norway,” says Sandberg.

On a holistic level, credit goes to government policies, developer enthusiasm for greentech, consumer receptivity and social pressure; four effective cogs churning out greener tech and greener habits – in Norway and beyond in 2019.