on December 15th, 2020

We're living in a time of rapid change. Technology trends, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, are allowing for more efficient workplace environments. As the engineering industry is characterized by innovation and progression, the digital revolution is transforming the field as we know it.

So, what are some of the latest trends that engineers should aware of?

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) involves using computer systems to perform tasks, normally requiring human intelligence or physical input. It has already gained attention in recent years, being utilized in computer search engines, medical diagnosis, handwriting recognition, and much more.  

Predicted to grow to an AUD $250 billion industry by 2025, the proliferation of AI is happening rapidly and will continue to act as a main technological innovator for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, AI-specific roles were mentioned as one of the top 15 emerging jobs for 2020 with 74% annual growth. If you're considering entering the AI field, 2021 will be the year to make a move.  

2. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) immerses a user in an environment while Augmented Reality (AR) enhances the environment. Despite being primarily used for gaming in its early stages, it is beginning to be used for training in some industries.

In 2021, we can expect these technologies to be further integrated into our lives. VR and AR have potential in training, entertainment, education, marketing and much more. From training doctors for surgery to enhancing customer experience, there will be an increasing demand for knowledge in these technologies.

Furthermore, it is predicted that the engineering industry will derive great benefits from the adoption of VR. According to VR statistics for 2020, the implementation and development of VR in engineering can reduce model design time by 10%, and construction time by 7%.

3. Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the biggest technology trends to emerge recently. Modern creations are increasingly being built with Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning they can be connected to the Internet – and each other. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the future, enabling devices, appliances, cars, and much more to be connected using the Internet.

Industry has a lot to gain from the implementation of the IoT, enabling for better safety, efficiency and decision making. It can enable predictive maintenance, enhance medical care and improve customer service, for example.

Predictions suggest that by 2030, around 50 billion IoT devices will be in use around the world, interconnecting anything from smartphones to ovens. IoT will transform our society in the coming years, so now is the time to get ahead of the learning curve.

4. 5G

You are most likely already familiar with 3G and 4G technologies. They enable us to browse the Internet, use data services, stream music, and so much more. However, 5G services are expected to revolutionize our daily lives.

By enabling services that rely on advanced technologies, 5G has the potential to make our lives smarter, safer, and more efficient. It is expected to be used in factories, safety, traffic management, smart grid control, and much more.

Just about every telecom company is now working on creating 5G applications, expecting to launch worldwide in 2021. Aside from the increased speed, 5G's low latency will be fundamental to furthering upcoming technology trends, especially IoT.

5. Digital Twins

Digital twins are virtual models of real products, processes, or services. This technology allows the secure transmission of data between the virtual and real-world, monitoring objects' behavior and predicting various outcomes.

Digital twins benefit industrial processes by reducing asset downtime and lowering overall maintenance costs, making them extremely valuable in the future of industry. Gartner predicts that almost half of the world's large industrial organizations will be using digital twins to improve productivity by 2021.

In the coming years, we will see digital twins expand to more applications, use cases and industries, combining with other technology trends to further the digital transformation.

6. Edge Computing

Predicted to grow to $250.6 billion by 2024, edge computing is a networking philosophy that focuses on bringing computing as close to the data source as possible. It makes the approach much more powerful and efficient than the cloud itself.

The rise of edge computing is mainly accredited to the growing IoT devices connecting to the Internet. Edge computer allows generated data from these devices to be processed closer to its source, rather than sending it across storage networks.

With the growing capabilities of edge systems, 2021 might be the year that edge computing will replace traditional cloud computing infrastructure.  

7. Robotics, Drones, and Vehicle Automation

Advances in machine learning and automation are ushering in the new age of digital assistants. In 2021, drones, automated vehicles, and robots will be further integrated into our daily lives, seamlessly assisting in transportation, communication, and productivity.

Within industry, robotics has changed the way we work. Sensors combined with cloud-based applications enable robots to react to changes in the environment, allowing them to perform tasks previously belonging to human workers. Many factories are now fully autonomous, with minimal human interaction.

These technology trends have even made their way to more rural areas. AI-powered drones help farmers keep a wide eye on their infrastructure, such as using thermal imaging to identify potential leaks.

Back in the city, autonomous vehicles are coming all the more common. Transforming mobility and logistics, self-driving cars use technology to improve traffic safety and efficiency. This benefits both consumers and commercial operations by making transportation more accessible.

The increasing incorporation of robotics, drones, and vehicle automation will see an increasingly autonomous and digital society. Furthermore, these drastic industry developments mean all the more employment opportunities and a career within a quickly growing sector.

These are just some of the top technology trends that will be present in 2021. As we can see around us, technology has already become our present-day reality. This technological influx is only going to increase with every passing day. Prepare for the changing future with a qualification in Industrial Automation from the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT).

What technology trends do you think we will see next year?

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