We are living in an era of advanced technology. But the impact of technology is far from being fully utilised. As technology continues to develop, we will find more parts of our lives being touched by it.
So here are 8 top tech trends that both luddites and tech enthusiasts can look forward to (or not) in 2019.
1. Autonomous modes of transport
2019 looks set to be the tipping point where every mode of transport starts going into autonomous mode. Autonomous vehicles such as cars, buses and even helicopters have already been making technological breakthroughs for the past few years. They are now in the test phase and clocking miles on the road rather than the research labs. Most of these autonomous modes of transport have already started running pilots all around Singapore.
2. Unified e-payment ecosystem
DBS PayLah!, GrabPay, LiquidPay, NETSFlashPay, Visa PayWave, MasterCard PayPass, FavePay and OCBC Pay Anyone. Anyone who is new to Singapore will surely be confused by the number of mobile wallet/e-payment app that Singaporeans have to grapple with.
With so many e-payment players trying to get users to sign up with them, it is no wonder why cash is still king in Singapore. But can we really blame Singaporeans for being reluctant to switch from cash to mobile payment? The root cause is the confusing e-payment ecosystem that is making it troublesome for Singaporeans to adopt e-payment.
The Singapore government recognised this and has introduced the Singapore Quick Response (SGQR) Code (kudos to the Singapore government for recognising the problem!). The SGQR serves as a unified platform for cashless transactions throughout Singapore, from hawkers to small merchants to multi-national retailers. So, in 2019, regardless of which e-payment app you pledge allegiance to, you only need to scan one QR code, i.e. the SGQR. This move to create a unified e-payment ecosystem makes 2019 a year to watch if Singapore is able to transit into a cashless society.
In the last two years, the whole world was crazy over cryptocurrency. From the peak of Bitcoin in 2017 to the all-time slump in 2018, cryptocurrency swayed the emotions of many with its volatile price movement. While cryptocurrency is no longer in fashion, the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrency is. This technology, known as blockchain, is quickly gaining momentum as an engine for decentralised, secure and more efficient transactions.
Many authorities around the world have already started exploring the possibilities of harnessing blockchain in day-to-day transactions. For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority have been jointly developing the Global Trade Connectivity Network. The Global Trade Connectivity Network is a cross border trade finance platform that is powered by blockchain.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore has also been experimenting with an inter-bank payment system using blockchain in Project Ubin. Private organisations have also been trying to exploit the benefits of blockchain to bring more convenience, security and lower cost to its consumers. Don’t be surprised if blockchain turns mainstream in 2019.
4. Smart lamp posts
For every 50m that you walk on the streets of Singapore, you are bound to spot a lamp post. The lamp posts were set in place to keep Singapore shining even in the dark. But starting 2019, lamp posts might no longer be there just to shine light into people’s lives. The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) and Government Technology Agency (GovTech) are embarking on an ambitious project to equip lamp posts with new functions.
For example, environmental sensors will be installed to monitor weather patterns such as rainfall, humidity and temperature. Video sensors will be incorporated to allow lamp posts to recognize faces through facial recognition systems. Smart lamp posts could even bring you communication basics like Wi-Fi to improve internet penetration in Singapore.
The trial will be implemented by ST Engineering, which won a S$7.5m tender for the project late last year.
5. 5G network
Almost every developed nation in the world is on the 4G network. However, the race to the fastest mobile internet speed is not done yet. The front running nations are experimenting on the next generation of network (aka 5G) that promises internet speed that is 20 times that of a 4G network!
The 5G network promises to make rapid, high-volume data transfer possible. Just imagine yourself downloading a 1080p video in mere seconds. With faster internet speed, 5G technology will be the base where future technological innovations can be built upon.
The three major telcos in Singapore are already teaming up with leaders in 5G technology to lay the groundwork for 5G technology in Singapore. M1 has teamed up with Huawei to begin trials of 5G. Singtel is working with Swedish telco Ericsson while Starhub is collaborating with Nokia to optimise industrial and consumer 5G applications.
According to technology experts, Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson are the clear leaders in 5G technology today. This means that Singapore is at the forefront of bringing 5G technology to fruition. Who knows, 5G technology might become mainstream in 2019.
6. Space technology: Could Singapore be launching its own space mission?
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are pumping in millions of dollars into developing space technology every year to make space tourism for the masses. While that might already be old news to you, the following might surprise you. Did you know that Singapore is also part of this race to develop its very own space technology? It might come as a surprise, but Singapore has a space industry with as many as 1,000 employees and 30 companies.
Started in 2013, the Economic Development Board (EDB) saw opportunities in space technology that had the potential to enhance Singapore’s economic landscape. For instance, Singapore’s space players have been developing miniature satellites that are a fraction of the cost of traditional satellites. This boom in accessibility to space technology has led many to dub the current time as the “new space age”.
As Singapore’s space industry develops, it has the potential to even execute full space missions, just like US and China. Maybe, just maybe, 2019 will be the year where Singapore announces its space ambition.
7. Facial recognition
With cyber attacks becoming increasingly prevalent and sophisticated, users now have to grapple with greater cyber threats. SMS one-time passwords, soft token validation and biometric (fingerprint) are some of the common two-factor authentication methods used to enhance the security of sensitive personal information. However, there are still some limitations to the current set of two-factor authentication methods.
Thus, giants like Tencent and Alibaba have started to experiment on facial recognition technology as the next level of cybersecurity for users. Alibaba has started running facial recognition payment experiments at China’s KFC outlets while Tencent has been using facial recognition to detect minors playing its mobile games.
With Apple and Huawei already bringing facial recognition technology to the masses through their smartphones, it is only a matter of time that facial recognition goes mainstream.
8. Industrial robots
South Korea is the top country in the world in terms of installation of industrial robots with 631 industrial robots for every 10,000 employees. But guess who is second on that same list? That’s right, Singapore is second only to South Korea for the installation of industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics report.
With an ageing population, the adoption of industrial robots to replace Singapore’s dwindling workforce is a very real scenario that could happen soon.
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