“Smart technology” is a bit vague as a descriptor at this point because it refers to a confluence of trends and technological innovations. Partly, smart technology refers to devices that are connected to the Internet and rely on artificial intelligence to learn about their environment. Another phrase people have used recently to refer to this movement is the Internet-of-Things (IoT).
There are three basic forms of smart technology at this point: smart devices that rely on automation and an intuitive user interface; smart connected devices that can be remotely used and are connected to the Internet; and finally, IoT devices, which usually involve a crossover of product design, application, analytics and network.
Added all together, it’s not hard to project where this could lead in a couple decades. We’re headed toward a society of smart cities, where virtually everything you see, touch, and use on a day-to-day basis is connected to a larger grid.
Whether this excites you or terrifies you, the writing is on the wall. In almost every major industry, we see an inexorable trend toward smart technology and the Internet-of-Things.
Smart parking – smart traffic
The design of city traffic and parking is going to change massively in the coming decades due to the overlapping revolutions in electric and automated vehicles, public transportation, and smart technology. Automated cars are expected to dramatically reduce traffic congestion and even free up space in parking lots.
In the meantime, there are more practical smart technology innovations being applied to parking. Smart parking allows you to integrate multiple data management processes at once, using cloud-based solutions and parking management technology to streamline operations. This includes meters and payment options, vehicle detector sensors, parking enforcement, permits, and in-vehicle payments. For electric vehicles (EVs), we will be seeing more and more EV fast charging stations, rapidly reducing the friction to travel in a more sustainable way.
Another aspect of smart parking is contactless technology, which is also getting an unexpected business boost from the pandemic.
Smart traffic will be revolutionized by automation, as mentioned above, but even before then, 5G smart city technology will provide real-time tracking of traffic situations.
Smart fashion sensors – wearables
If you think the smart devices we have now are gaudy and intrusive, wait until we start to see smart fashion. That’s right, in the near future, your very clothing will have telemetry, analytics, and Wi-Fi connectivity. This will apply not only to clothing, but exercise devices that can track your health vitals.
Already, some of the major brands like Samsung, Google, HexoSkin, and Under Armour have launched think tanks to figure out how to make our clothes smart. Right now the biggest problem is that wearable technology is still pretty conspicuous. In the coming decades, our clothes will have smart sensors embedded in the fabric.
While this definitely opens up a huge can of worms when it comes to privacy, these are questions that will have to be answered as we progress forward.
Smart cameras are already one of the biggest smart city and machine learning technologies, used by corporations, law enforcement, and local governments. Smart cameras impact everything from street cameras to first responder bodycams and driver dash-cams.
In the future, smart cameras could revolutionize the workforce, including artistic pursuits as well. We already know that Hollywood is using drones and automation to make movies; imagine when the camera itself can set up its own shots.
Smart cameras will also be heavily impacted by artificial intelligence algorithms with facial recognition technology. Again, many questions of privacy and civil liberties will have to be addressed as we move forward, but for the time being, smart cameras, automation, and drones are all progressing together in lock-step.
While the pandemic could slow down some smart city infrastructure, spending in this sector could hit $327 billion by 2025. The total business value of smart technology has been estimated as a $2.46 trillion market. Some analysts believe the pandemic could actually bolster smart technology, as many cities are already investing heavily in COVID-19-related contact-tracing apps, platforms, drones, and analytics.
While there are currently no comprehensive smart cities in the world, one analytics company estimates there will be at least 26 of them by 2025.