In the wireless technology world, 2016 will go down as the year we learned that Siri has competition from Alexa and that saying “OK Google” can help us order a pizza. Cars are driving themselves down the road, and we can easily control our appliances, coffee makers and lights from our smartphones. In 2016, technologies such as 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) took significant steps forward and more and more smartphone functionality is available on our wrists.
Where will wireless technology take us in 2017? Jay Ellison, executive vice president of operations for U.S. Cellular, says that 2017 will be the year that Oregon residents will regularly experience IoT at home and at work and that technology will be more ingrained in our lives than ever before.
“There have been a lot of buzzwords in the wireless world over the years, and 2017 may be the year that they move from buzzy to reality,” Ellison said. “It all starts with the smartphone in our hands and that small device can control almost anything that has an on/off switch. It is really fun and exciting to see how previously difficult or annoying jobs can be handled with the push of a button and I can’t wait to see what is next on the horizon.”
Ellison anticipates three trends in the wireless industry that you may experience in 2017.
1. Connected Homes
The promise of The Internet of Things (IoT) has now come to a new mass market: the connected home. In the span of a few short years, connected devices have entered the homes of millions of Americans, and these devices are now poised for a new wave of growth. We now have connected lightbulbs, connected scales, connected thermostats, connected refrigerators, connected pet dishes, connected grills, connected toasters and the list goes on.
These “smart” home appliances and devices can be accessed and controlled from any location from a smartphone or tablet, providing us with informative data or making daily tasks simpler and faster. With the rise of affordable IoT devices, the worldwide smart home market is forecast to grow to $43 billion in 2020, from $15.6 billion in 2016, according to Statista.
“Technology is making it easier than ever to stay connected to your home no matter where you are,” said Ellison. “While the smartphone is the centerpiece of it all, we have seen more and more people coming in to our stores and purchasing these IoT devices to see how useful they can be in their daily life.”
2. The Business Case for Drones
2017 will be the year that drones go beyond recreational use and start being used by a wide range of businesses. We have seen many business sectors be early adopters of drone technology, and it is expected that more businesses will use the technology to simplify their operations.
Some of the common industries where we already see drone use are in agriculture, oil and gas utilities, mining and surveying, but the possibilities are endless. They can also be used in humanitarian efforts to deliver goods to or assess areas that have been hit by natural disasters. In the wireless industry, they could be used to check a damaged tower or monitor a tower in a remote location that is difficult to access.
Many smaller drones can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet application, and the data that can be gathered can be helpful for businesses of all sizes. For those looking to get started using the technology, it is encouraged that you visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/ to learn the FAA regulations and check out www.uscellular.com to see some affordable drone options.
3. Virtual Reality Becomes a Reality for Businesses
Virtual Reality (VR) has been around for many years, but it seems to have finally found its place in the market and is here to stay for 2017 and beyond. While it has become popular in video games and other forms of entertainment, the possibilities for it to be used in business are growing at an increasingly fast rate. Some estimates put the market for VR at $150 billion within four years, and as the technology becomes more affordable for more people, that may be a conservative estimate.
From virtual meetings to tourism to healthcare, VR has the potential to impact the business world in the very near future. Architects can make complex drawings in 3D and immerse their clients in what the building will look like. Hundreds of medical students can shadow a surgeon during a procedure no matter where they are, and realtors can take potential home buyers through a virtual tour of homes for sale in a certain area. The money savings VR can bring to these business sectors will be substantial.
As the barriers continue to be lowered for people to try out VR in their home and business life, more benefits will emerge. The Samsung Galaxy VR headset is widely available and sells for less than $100. It can be a perfect entry in to the VR experience for anyone looking to enhance their business.
U.S. Cellular is the fifth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States, providing national network coverage and industry-leading innovations designed to elevate the customer experience.