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8 Top Tech Trends To Look Forward To In 2019

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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 technology.

For luddites and tech
enthusiasts alike, here are the top tech trends that you can look forward to
(or not) in 2019.

1. Autonomous modes
of transport

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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.

From nuTonomy’s driverless car to NTU’s driverless shuttle bus to driverless flying taxis, autonomous mode of transportation is on track to become the new norm. In the second half of 2019, Singapore is going to start the trial for air taxis in our air space. The sight of electrically powered aircraft known as Volocopters will soon take over our air space. They will be programmed to fly you from one point to another in Singapore.

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2. Unified e-payment

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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.

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3. Blockchain

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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.

read: Alternative
Investment: Are Cryptocurrencies The Right Investment For You?

4. Smart lamp posts

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Empty walkway along the Singapore River at night. Image source: Mikko Ryynanen/Shutterstock

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.

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5. 5G network

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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.

Read also: Which Are the Cheapest Phone Plans, According to Finance

6. Space technology:
Could Singapore be launching its own space mission?

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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.

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7. Facial

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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.

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8. Industrial

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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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