Tech innovation is set to move from the Age of Obama, which focused on the needs of high-density urban residents, to the Age of Trump, which will focus on the needs of lower-density suburban residents.
Technological innovation tends to follow closely the evolving needs of potential customers. Over the last decade, the most important demographic trend in the United States has been the collapse of the 40-year trend in suburban (1,000 to 500 density per mile) population growth, from +1.7 percent to barely positive; coupled with the rebirth of urban (over 2,000 density per mile) population growth, from -1.5 percent per year to +1 percent.
The demographic somersault was powered by the migration of millennial youth, who prioritized experiences and social recognition, versus their parents, who had moved to the suburbs to buy houses and accumulate other material goods, according to Harris Group.
The top five technological innovations over the last decade that powered the trend:
- Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg’s college app was not the first social network website, but combining virtual interaction with an ease of usage revolutionized how 1.8 billion users socialize and how businesses promote products.
- YouTube: The video-sharing platform democratized video-sharing and slashed the cost of content creation. In the process, it revolutionized access to knowledge and facilitated revolutionary political movements across the globe.
- iPhone: Steve Jobs developed the first smartphone to cross over from business to the consumer. Elegantly designed to combine a stainless steel casing, slick glass and multi-touch screen, it allowed surfing the web, mapping, making pictures and producing videos. Subsequently, Apple stock rose by 1,000 percent to make it the most valuable company in history.
- Android: Google offered its Linux-based software in 2007 as part of the Open Handset Alliance with a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open-source standards for mobile devices. Android currently accounts for about 75 percent of the 2.2 billion mobile software programs installed globally.
- Tesla Roadster: Elon Musk revived commercial electric powered automobiles to achieve an 88 percent energy efficiency, compared to 25 percent for gasoline powered vehicles. In 2016 Tesla’s Model 3 recorded the largest first-day release sales of 180,000 units, and now holds the largest pre-order sales record, at about 600,000 units.
After eight years of rapid growth, urban populations have stalled in 2014 and suburbs began to dominate growth again. There will be many technological discoveries in the next decade, but the following five technological innovations will transform work, play and life.
- Self-Driving Car: After a decade of research, autonomous vehicle deployment will be sprawl-mobiles that accelerate the growth of farther-flung suburbs. The end of gridlock and fewer accidents will shorten commute times to suburbs and more distant exburbs.
- Fifth-Generation Wireless: Mobile networks will move from 4G LTE macro-cell sites that cover neighborhoods to small pico-cells that can be sited anywhere to bring 200 times faster data speeds to interface the sensors and cameras driving the Internet of Things.
- Computer Vision: Video-as-a-sensor will acquire, process, and analyze digital images to extract 3-dimensional data from the real world in order to produce numerical or symbolic information. Uses will include efficient resource use and better decision making.
- Mixed Reality: Virtual reality brought digital overlays that incorporated real physics and computer graphics to create immersive experiences, but mixed reality will merge the real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
- Artificial Intelligence: Artificial intelligence will allow machines to have reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, natural language processing, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. Artificial neural networks will allow deep learning that will give machines the ability to have empathy.