OpenAI robots and MWC tech lead ZDNET's Innovation Index

In the first weekly leaderboard of the top trends in innovation, AI unsurprisingly claims the No. 1 spot and the world's leading mobile event makes a strong showing.
Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief
ZDNET Innovation Index

Welcome to the first installment of ZDNET's poll on the weekly trends that are leading the world of innovation. We've dubbed this as the Innovation Index and you can always find the latest version at that link. 

While sports have their top 25 rankings of teams, we're going to be even more selective and narrow down to the top four trends of the week. We're looking for the most innovative things happening in the tech industry each week and the trends that will have the biggest impact on work and life. 

Similar to the college sports rankings that are voted on by sportswriters, the ZDNET Innovation Index is voted on by a panel of journalists and industry analysts. For the first vote, we stuck to ZDNET staff journalists and our network of contributors, since we have a great diversity of voices and perspectives. But we're going to be expanding the panel to include outside voices as well. The way the poll is conducted is that ZDNET's editorial leaders narrow down the top 10 trends of the week and then send that list to our panel to vote on and rank the top four.

With that preamble out of the way, let's dive into the results of the first poll. 

These were the top trends over the past week:

  1. OpenAI is now working on AI models for humanoid robots
  2. Rollable phones could be the next mobile innovation
  3. Telcos are prepping to roll out 5.5G (a.k.a. 5G Advanced)
  4. Wearables led the charge at Mobile World Congress 2024

It won't surprise anyone that AI is at the top of the list since generative AI has dominated the narrative in the tech industry since November 2022 when ChatGPT was first unleashed on the world. And humanoid robots powered by ChatGPT may have a terrifying sci-fi sound to it -- full metal hallucinations? -- the facts are a little more pedestrian. OpenAI is partnering with a startup named Figure that is relying on Microsoft and OpenAI to help with the software it's building to make industrial robots for the auto industry in order to handle tasks that are unsafe, monotonous, or challenging for human workers.

The other three trends on this week's list all have connections to Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest event of the year for smartphones, wearables, and mobile connectivity -- and it was back in full force this year in Barcelona, Spain. ZDNET's Kerry Wan highlighted the fact that a rollable phone at MWC made the foldables he's been testing over the past couple years look a step behind. We also saw the next stage of 5G, known as 5G Advanced or 5.5G, is preparing to deploy and the biggest impact will likely be on organizations. And the biggest surprise of MWC was the fact that wearables may have actually overshadowed phones, led by the new details revealed about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Ring

Check out the Innovation Index page for more links to related stories on all four topics, and check back next Thursday for the latest iteration of the top trends.

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