FUTURE-GAZING

The Memo’s predictions for 2018

By Alex Wood 19 December 2017
Image: Getty/RichVintage.
Summary

A tantalising glimpse of what lies ahead.

Oh 2017, what a year it’s been.

But among the political chaos, the worlds of business, finance and culture have been dramatically impacted by technology – from Uber’s dramatic fall from grace to Bitcoin soaring to all new heights.

Our team of reporters, associate editors and producers now look ahead to predict how our world will change in the upcoming year.

Read on for our top predictions for 2018…

Oliver Smith – Healthtech’s growing pains begin

Oliver is Senior Reporter at The Memo. He can be found on Twitter @OliverSmithEU

If 2017 was the year finance tech exploded into the mainstream, in 2018 healthtech will follow suit.

Virtual doctors from Babylon, services to analyse your health data, and artificial intelligence which keeps us on-track for longer, healthier lives – but it won’t all be pretty.

When Monzo buckled under the weight of interest, people were left unable to access their cash.

When healthtech buckles… the impact will be dire.

I hear the NHS’s video-doctor service, GP at Hand, is already reaching breaking point, with over 1,000 new registrations a day, and only the capacity to handle a tenth of that.

It’s going to be a bumper year for healthtech, but some of those bumps will hurt.

UPDATE 2017-12-19 – A Babylon spokesperson, commenting on the performance of their GP at Hand project in partnership with the NHS, told The Memo: “This is categorically untrue. Our 95% patient satisfaction rating is clear evidence that we are meeting our patients’ demands.”

Kitty Knowles

Kitty is Senior Features Reporter at The Memo. She can be found on Twitter @kittygknowles

After watching the world’s tentative steps into virtual reality, I said that 2017 would bring “the start of a mixed reality era”.

In some ways, this year’s leap into augmented reality – kicked off by Pokémon Go! and boosted by Apple’s ARKit – did just that.

Next year, we’re going to see physical businesses bring virtual entertainment within their walls.

I imagine scanning AR menus in restaurants for extra content, augmented reality mannequins coming to life in luxury clothes stores, and virtual celebrities selling make-up or music at tills.

2018 is set to be the year of digital experiences, and our smartphones make is easier than ever to place digital entertainment in our surroundings.

It’s going to have a ‘wow factor’ at first, but here’s hoping it doesn’t feel stale by the end of the year.

Alex Wood

Alex is Editor in Chief of The Memo and a visiting lecturer at City University. He can be found on Twitter @AlexWoodCreates

This time last year I put my money on Microsoft going from zero to hero – and it turned out to be true. Throughout 2017 we saw companies both big and small ditch the MacBook and swap it for the Surface tablet.

In 2018, we’ll stop agonising over Uber and instead turn our attention to the next big thing – “peak bike”.

If you live in a major city, you’ve probably spotted heaps of brightly-coloured cycles dumped on your pavements. These two-wheelers are from the likes of Ofo and Mobike – two Chinese giants which have peppered the planet with over 25m new bikes that anyone can hire with a couple of taps on their smartphone.

They solve the so-called “last mile problem” – perfect for those times when you need to get somewhere that’s not near a train station, and easier than official schemes like London’s Boris Bikes because you can pick up and dump these bikes anywhere you like.

But fewer cars and a more active population comes at a stark cost – our pavements and sidewalks are being filled up by abandoned cycles.

In 2017 the world turned against Uber, for 2018 I predict a bike backlash is due.

Molly Flatt

Molly is Associate Editor at The Memo and Digital Editor at Phoenix Magazine. She can be found on Twitter @mollyflatt.

Next year I think we’ll see a resurgence in paid-for content on high-quality niche sites.

Forget paywalls from the big media brands – we’ll be deleting our news apps, paring down the poisonous brain noise, and opting to put our money where our attention is, bankrolling carefully-curated, long-form and possibly even (gasp!) life-affirming brands like Brain Pickings and Future Crunch.

This could be for as little as a quid or two a month, but it reflects our growing realisation that free news is all too often fake news, and that we need to support the thinkers and activists we love with money, not just eyeballs.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair writes about the Future of Motoring for The Memo and is a freelance journalist. He can be found on Twitter @AlistairJ90

The next decade of the motorcar will see more change and technological upheaval than in the previous century. For 2018 we will see the combining of electric motors and batteries with engines and fuel tanks on the production lines of everyone from Honda to Bentley, as the industry fights to clean up its act.

Subscription models giving access to a manufacturer’s entire range for a flat fee will appear in 2018, as car makers follow Spotify and Netflix.

Autonomy will also play a role, but not in the futuristic way some mistakenly think is just around the corner. Technology tested in Silicon Valley will remain just that for now, as carmakers and regulators wrestle over just how much control the machines should have.

Fully driverless technology is on the way, but for 2018 we will be keeping our hands firmly on the wheel.

Anna Schaverien

Anna is a freelance contributor for The Memo and has been featured in The Sunday Times & The Telegraph. She can be found on Twitter @annaschav

Anyone who spent hours of 2016 roaming the streets in the hopes of spotting a rare Pokémon knows the power of augmented reality.

Then, despite best efforts to recreate an AR smash hit, no-one took the bait this year.

So am I betting on a non-starter? I don’t think so.

Towards the end of this year, we’ve seen big brands adopt AR – and do it well.

Lego’s AR-Studio can really capture kids’ imaginations as pirate ships magically turn up in their living rooms.

Starbucks turned going to a coffee shop into a hub of interactive and educational tech, and Snapchat is getting people into AR art.

They’re leading the way for others to join in 2018.

I’m not saying an AR app will become as commonplace for a brand as a website, but I bet you we’ll get pretty close.

Max Thielmeyer – technology is getting political

Max is The Memo’s editorial assistant. He can be found on Twitter @MaxThielmeyer

With the American Net Neutrality vote and Bitcoin’s all-time high forcing a statement from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, politics surrounding technology is bound to go mainstream.

For years, the politics of technology was largely out of the news, only popping up when a company like Uber or Twitter made headlines.

Now, with technology intertwined with our day-to-day life more than ever before, choices made surrounding technology and the internet affect us all.

2018 will be the year the public takes notice and raises its voice.

Sophie Morlin-Yron

Sophie is a bilingual Swedish-English freelance features writer who covers innovation, tech and sustainability for The Memo. She tweets @sophiemyron

2018 will see a boost of green gadgets, apps, cars and farming tech, appealing to those keen to ride the green wave but who are not ready to part with certain luxuries such as travel, taxis and good food.

Ride-hailing apps will merge with climate-friendly taxi services. Stockholm-based startup Bzzt! has seen huge success with its battery-powered inner-city pod taxis, for example, and is doubling its fleet next year. We’ll also see self-driving vehicles enter public transport, such as the new Ioki new ’smart mobility’ scheme with autonomous electric cars on demand launching in Hamburg in 2018.

Meanwhile in Dubai, there’s been much talk of launching the first flying electric taxi service together with Chinese drone startup Ehang – looks like 2018 is the year it may actually happen.

Also e-planes are a hot topic and while there may be another ten years until we can book a long-haul ticket on an electrical airplane, we can expect breakthroughs next year in batteries and fuel from the likes of Wright Electric who’re working on an all-electric passenger jet for a 2027 launch.