Task-based robots and data-driven healthcare services among the technological trends of the future
Regardless of the pandemic situation, the European Commission has announced the adoption of the Digital Services Act (DSA) as part of the European digital strategy by the end of 2020. The latest issue of ComputerWeekly summarized the trends that the preliminary studies brought to the attention of the Commission for the development of the relevant legislation, which also outline the digital trends of the coming decades.
According to the study, one of the short-term trends is a widespread use of task-based robots that will increasingly replace manual human labour from heavy agricultural tasks to automated systems. Their production cost will decrease sharply, and by incorporating machine learning, these robots can be used for many special-purpose tasks, which will further reduce the price of the products they produce. With the spread of 5G networks, widespread use the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems will become a real opportunity. Seamless payment, that is a system of instant electronic payment will appear, which foreshadows the complete disappearance of traditional cash and the arrival of cashless payment.
In the medium term, i.e. between 2022 and 2025, data-driven and personalised healthcare services will become widespread, their aim being prevention rather than healing. Online and offline trading will merge, and the identification of customers will be automated, which will generate huge data traffic. This in turn will necessitate new solutions to protect personal data and property. In addition to the traditional supply chains, 3D printers will provide a whole new opportunity because local manufacturing of the products customers need would render long-distance transport unnecessary.
According to the summary of ComputerWeekly, 6G networks, which can be up to 8000 times faster than 5G, are expected to become widespread by around 2030. The new network can provide the basis the almost exclusive expansion of autonomous vehicles, among which “self-flying transport machines” may appear. According to the report, fully personalised products will be in general use, allowing for unique products, such as dishes, to be produced based on customers’ DNA. Technologies based on data analytics can become common, where data are processed by artificial intelligence, and augmented reality can also become something suitable for everyday use.
Developments: FTTP vs. 5G
A study published by Analysys Mason in May provides a detailed overview of how telecommunications operators plan their future investment spending. According to the company, the development of FTTP will be the most typical, when fibre optic cables used in building the Internet network will be routed all the way to the consumer’s home. The question is whether this will happen at the expense of 5G networks. The current situation of European companies with the most investment costs back in the last quarter of 2019 reveals that the pandemic has indeed left its mark on their financial indicators, the extent of which, however, is quite different for each operator. Based on the reports by British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Vodafone, there will be operators rethinking their schedule for the deployment of 5G networks, but this will not be a general European trend. Most likely, the balance will not tip either towards 5G or FTTP on the overall European scene, although some operators will move in one direction or the other.
However, 5G networks are being deployed at a much faster pace in the US and the Far East countries than in Europe. This is why it means a great advantage that the NMHH organized the sale of frequencies at the beginning of the pandemic, making Hungary one of the countries acting in time. According to DESI 2020, the European Commission’s digital economy and society index, Hungary occupies a prominent position in terms of 5G and in access speeds above 100 Mbps, so operators in Hungary do not have to think too much about developments.
The significance of IoT may increase in the future
According to the experts at the NMHH, the economic crisis will clearly result in a setback in short-term IoT investments, one of the reasons being that most of these devices have not yet become an integral part of our lives (e.g. wearable devices, smart watches, smart homes), and they only provide convenience benefits to consumers. The expected drop in industrial production will also have a negative impact on the market, as car manufacturers who use many IoT devices have been severely affected by the pandemic, with many cutting back on production rates and some even temporarily closing factories (e.g. General Motors). At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic showed that remote monitoring and automated operation of devices can bring many benefits under normal conditions, and it can be even indispensable in extreme situations. For example, during a pandemic, the automotive industry can continue production with minimal staff, and logistics companies can use their stocks even without staff, people can work from anywhere without interruption, and power companies can do their job without on-the-spot meter readings to keep track of energy consumption.