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Technology trends can display the awaited realization of predicted products from the past as well as objects users did not know they needed until it was released.

In 2017, virtual reality headsets rose in popularity, offering an augmented perspective that several science fiction authors envisioned last century. Consumers were also influenced by smart home technology using voice-activated software to connect a screenless device to the internet.

While these products became popular discussion topics last year, what upcoming technology trends could we see in 2018?

In October 2017, the world was introduced to Sophia, the first artificially intelligent robot to gain citizenship in Saudi Arabia. Sophia’s story was just a precursor to the future of AI that could be used in business and personal relationships.

Ben Goertzel, CEO of SingularityNET, hopes that AI is taken to the next level in the coming months. His company spends millions of dollars creating AI software for potential clients.

“It could be a shoe store that wants machine learning to predict what shoes people are going to buy next year, it could be an accounting company that wants AI to spot errors in their line items,” Goertzel said in a Forbes interview. “Or, it could be something sexier like a robotics company that wants AI to help their robot navigate. It could be a hospital that wants AI to help a conversation system to keep chronically ill people company or a diagnostics system to figure out why some medicines work for some and not others.”

Artificial intelligence may impact several businesses, but average consumers could soon be part of another trend: an increased speed in their internet.

In 2010, the world was first introduced to 4G internet networks that were created to improve browsing speeds and download capabilities. On January 3, 2018, Verizon announced that it will join with Samsung to create a 5G internet network.

The 5G network is expected to be 10 times faster than 4G and respond more quickly to user commands.

While the 5G network will not be available until the latter half of 2018, anticipation grows as executives make plans on how to make it available.

“With 5G, it’s going to be expanding beyond your phone,” Kim Woo-june, senior vice president in Samsung’s network business, said in a press conference announcing the new network. “5G is a reality.”

The partnership of Verizon and Samsung expects the 5G network to first be available in homes and businesses and become available through smartphones after its success can be determined.

That boosted speed could assist in the next expected trend: a sharp increase in voice search online shopping.

Current online shopping habits include looking at an e-commerce website and searching one or two keywords to bring up a list of possible product finds. However, e-commerce search engine optimization software company ATTRAQT sees the future in voice searching rather than physically typing keywords.

“Once you’ve got an Alexa device or Siri on your phone, once you’re used to doing a search like that on your phone, you’re going to expect to do that on e-commerce sites,” Andre Brown, ATTRAQT CEO, said in an interview with the Associated Press. “We will be making announcements (in 2018) about what we’re doing in this area, but I think voice search may well be more important that visual search.”

Brown predicts that consumers will shift toward use voice activated devices to specify what items they want to purchase and the devices may find the most cost-affordable option.

The process of looking through product lists may soon be a thing of the past. This could help businesses to focus in on certain audiences and optimize sales of specific products.

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