Information technologies have made significant changes in the world and newer developments in the field are transformational to societies today. For instance, fiber optics have made the telecommunication costs go down drastically. Another major development is in the speed and capacity of information systems. Both speed and capacities of systems are increasing but size of equipments or systems is decreasing. These reduced sizes combined with reduced costs have made possible human-computer interfaces that using virtual space transactions. This human-machine interface technologies have given rise to the field of robotics which is seeing many advances and is expected to grow fast in future.
Further, information technology is making systems smart through the use of microprocessors, actuators and sensors. Smartness of systems has enabled remote management of devices. One more significant advance in telecommunication technologies is virtual reality that emerged with application of computational power to images which has transformed not only gaming industry with a unique experience but also the field of education as virtual reality has dramatically affected the students grades that are improved. Another area of improvement in imagery used the dynamic perspectives that resulted into creation of three dimensional images and multimedia (Miller, Michalski, & Stevens, 2000).
Most of these technological developments are both affected by and generating huge amounts of data as well as require to analyze this data. Technologies of today provide better data collection capacities, and analysis which has given rise to concept of Big Data. These five technologies that include robotics, smart technologies, virtual reality, 3 D technologies and Big Data. These technologies are discussed in detail in this paper. These discussions include foundations of these technologies, their original, development trends and future prospects.
Robotics is the area of Artificial Intelligence concerned with the practical use of robots. Robots are automated machines capable to check itself for faults or errors, and correct it without any human intervention. Robots can work independently like human and animals, one such example is gyroscope that can be used to maintain balance like humans have while riding a vehicle. Today, robotics is able to integrate various fields and offer amazingly intelligent robots. With the use of various fields of engineering and science like mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, artificial intelligence, and computer science etc., robotics has become multidimensional.
In coming future, Robotics would be able to manage not only the major business operations of an organization but also the people. Innovations in technology have made it possible to create humanoids walking like humans. In Japan, government has funded the development of humanoids for working in factories, and many companies are hopeful to use such mechanical workers in their factories in future. However, developing humanoids is complicated as these humanoids are supposed to follow human instructions and work accordingly. Scientists are working on to program humanoids to work on their own, and one may expect these humanoids to work in organizations in future and perform those activities which don’t require much human intelligence but involve dangerous works.
The future of robotics would also involve development of such machines that can learn from the environment and carry out necessary action without human intervention. In order to achieve this, scientists are trying to create replica of human brain which may not be possible absolutely but machines can be made to learn smartness of human brain to some extent. In future, such robots would be useful to explore the space as they would not face human challenges while living in the space, carry out military operations, operate unmanned vehicles in war, work as caregiver for people with contagious diseases, and assist underprivileged people like deaf or dumb.
Apart from defense, manufacturing, and healthcare, robots has a wide set of applications in other industries also like ceramics and aerospace etc., and may extend to serve more industries like education and corporate services. In future, robotics is likely to spread its usage in domestic applications like cleaning, entertainment application like games and toys, private and public transport, security, land and sea exploration, mining in dangerous areas, search and rescue operations, and surgeries etc.
The major challenges that robotics development is likely to face are:
- Improving the size, weight and cost
- Improving the navigation algorithm to avoid collision
- Legal aspects of interaction between robots and humans
- Inability of robots to understand human emotions
- Ethical and unethical use of robots
Smart technologies take inputs from a user of a smart device, apply some brainpower to take actions that can make things simpler for humans. Difference between a normal IT device or function and smart device or technology is this brain power. For instance, a regular spectacle is used to correct vision through reflection and a smart spectacle may add a tint based on the intensity of sunlight it is exposed to helping the person wearing feel more comfortable wearing it.
Smart technologies are most commonly used in mobile phones. Earlier mobile phones were just used for making calls, saving contacts and keeping track of time. Smart phones have advanced capabilities such that they can make voice calls, video calls, surf internet, play music, play videos, manage contacts and appointments, send emails, navigate using GPS, understand touch gestures, and run new applications for specific needs of users. Other applications of smart technologies include education, transport, software applications, home environments, access cards, televisions, healthcare and more.
The potential for smart products in the market is large and is expected to increase in future. In fact, it can be said that these technologies would act catalysts for designing, engineering and other kinds of new services. An increasing usage of smart technologies is seen in transportation and building applications. The global market for smart transportations and smart homes is expected to rise to $4.5 billion by the end of 2018 and $408 billion by the year 2020 respectively (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills UK, 2013).
A concept of sustainable urban transportation has emerged with the use of smart technologies in transportation applications such as traffic flow management, rule enforcement and real time information sharing. Smart technologies used in transportation makes transport operations possible without human interventions through the use of sensors, processing units and controllers. Smart technologies make these operations more efficient, reliable, adaptable, accurate and fast (Debnath, Haque, Chin, & Yuen, 2011).
In virtual reality, a three dimensional environment is created using computer technology such that it can be manipulated by a user. Virtual reality is used in a wide variety of applications including business, communication, marketing, entertainment, arts, training, exploration, military, design, construction, architecture, medicine and engineering. The emergence of 3D world came in response to the lack of full satisfaction with 2D images that only created illusions of depth and not provide an experience that were immersive, a gap that virtual reality would fulfill.
There are several companies that have come up with virtual reality solutions like immersive video tour by Global Vision Communications, 360 degree video solution by YellowBird, single channel immersive display by Panoscope 360 degree, pico-projector by Microsoft Corporation, and R-Screen by Laval Virtual Exhibition. New trends in this area of creating virtual reality are autostereoscopy, alioscopy, transparent displays, and holomachines.
Autostereoscopy: Virtual reality is created by presenting two different images to the two eyes of a human such that the human brain combine these images to form a perception of 3D. Some examples of such technologies are lenticular lenses, electro-holograph, parallax barrier, and volumetric.
Alioscopy: Just like Autostereoscopy, two images are used for creating virtual 3 dimensional image but this involve creation of an environment which interacts with the viewer. An interface may be used for a viewer to feel the virtual space.
Transparent displays: This technology is majorly used in electronic gadgets or devices such as mobiles, laptops and televisions. A high transparency rate screen in used such that the screen displays functions as well as act as a see through glass. An example of this technology is Organic Light Emitting Diode developed by joint efforts of Microsoft and MIT Media lab.
Holomachines: These machines act as projectors and the reflecting screen is produced in a free space to create three dimensional effect. One example of such approach is public lightshow display which is produced using laser beams that are penetrated through a fog cloud but this is limited to display of limited words or drawings. Newer projection systems or holomachines are much capable of creating floating images using atomized water.
3 D technologies
3D Technologies usually take different approaches to building images that can be through capturing of multiple images with a camera to combine them for a 3D effect, using computer to generate imagery or converting 2D image to 3D. For real image capture to turn into 3D, stereographic recording is used such as used in entertainment services such as 3DTV and 3D Cinema. Computer generated imagery is created using 3D graphic design software like Maya and 3D Max. 2D to 3D conversions are done using parallax information that is added to an object to create a 3D effect. Depth Image Based Rendering and Multi view coding are some examples of this type of conversion (Robitza, 2012).
For a human to see a 3D image, the eyes rely on visual cues including occlusion, relative size or density, visual field height, aerial perspective, motion perspective, textural gradients’, light, shading, and linear perspectives. Currently most 3DTV technologies require a user to wear 3D glasses to see the 3D creation but new 3 D display technologies are trying to use these principles to replicate 3D images for users to see directly without any assistance from lenses. In future, more such devices with auto-stereoscopic capabilities are expected to be seen (ONURAL, SIKORA, OSTERMANN, SMOLIC, CİVANLAR, & WATSON, 2006).
Big Data is the term used for identifying huge and complex datasets that are not manageable with older techniques as they would require a huge set of co-processing servers that could extract and process data fro multiple sources including devices, sensors and applications. This would require huge investment into hardware which may not be feasible. Big Data technologies work over cloud and can process data from multiple sources to work on combined sets. Big Data works on volumes of data, handles varieties of this data which can be in the form of audios, videos, text, graph or more and can manage continously flowing streams of data (Fan & Bifet, 2012).
Because of the associated benefits and need of the increasing amount of data, Big Data is expected to get acceptance by more and more companies in near future. Some trends that are going to follow with the acceptance of big data in coming future are:
- Healthcare sector would use the technology for analyzing patient data for diagnostics, making treatments more efficient in future.
- Big data would be used on mobile networks for traffic planning, hardware maintenance production and for improving network quality.
- Productivity of sectors like insurance and IT would increase with the use of big data in future.
- Big Data technologies would be used in scientific experiments in future as experimental data of huge volumes require new methods for handling.
- Individual firms would be using Big Data technologies for developing insights into competitive data and would be planning data-driven strategies based on real time data.
The five major technologies including robotics, smart technologies, virtual reality, 3D technologies and big data have potential to transform the future in big way and they work to create a reality driven experience for the networked generation of future. While robotics and smart technologies would make things simpler for humans by automating things, virtual reality and 3D would give a new experience to users of technologies. Big Data would further assist these technologies by bringing all data together and analyzing it to bring insights.
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