What's next for 2019? 9 tech and innovation trends

Throughout 2018, trends, cultural shifts, and consumer behaviors have been rapidly evolving. Innovation and uprising against tech giants continues to disrupt the status quo. But what's in store for 2019?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Constant disruption -- from politics to the environment -- has affected our attitudes and behaviors, and 2019 looks to throw a few more surprises according to a new trend report.

The Innovation Group's annual trend report, Future 100 outlines the trends and changes to watch in 2019.

It shows a glimpse of what is to come and what is important across individual sectors for 2019 including culture, tech and innovation, travel, food and drink, brands, beauty, retail, luxury, health, and lifestyle.

Also: Digital transformation in 2019: Lessons learned the hard way

Lucie Greene, Director of JWT Innovation has outlined some of the tech trends and innovations predicted to be talked about in 2019 So what can we look forward to?

Ethical internet: Tech brands need to take a more proactive approach to exploring ethical implications of their platforms and wares,  according to tech journalist Kara Swisher in NYT article.

In May 2018, Amnesty International, Access Now and other partner organizations launched the Toronto Declaration, which protects the right to equality and non-discrimination in machine learning systems.

More and more tech companies are realizing the order of magnitude that their products have on societal issues like mental health, isolation, cyber-bullying,  and suicide.

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, wrote in a blog post on Medium: "For all the good we've achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas. Today, I believe we've reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible -- and necessary."

Future tech cities: Tech brands are turning their attention to every aspect of life and reimagining these areas with tech solutions. Now Urban design is getting a rethink for a hyper-connected future.

Tech giant Alibaba is developing a City Brain artificial intelligence layer. It is testing elements of the AI in Hangzhou. Thousands of street cameras are used to collect data to control traffic lights, optimize traffic flow, detect accidents, and deploy respondents.

However, constant surveillance and the data it generates has the capacity for the greater good and personal invasion of privacy.

As technology companies roll out their solutions to urban problems, privacy advocates are ringing alarm bells over the potential abuse of on-going surveillance.

Also: 5 technologies you'll get sick of hearing about in 2019

Humanizing tech: Tech brands try to blend in to our homes and bodies to seamlessly integrate into our everyday life. The shift will be toward services that are made to smoothly integrate with the user.

Information is presented in playful, non-threatening ways, complete with carefully constructed imperfections and idiosyncrasies.

Brands are trying to have a friendly identity, such as Uber's new rounded fonts, Grindr's creation of Kindr -- to foster a more welcoming environment, and curved, rounded, tactile audio speakers that blend in with home decor.

Real-time tech: Advances in technology are incorporating devices and materials with biological capabilities, turning them into an extension of the wearer's body. Products and devices that instantly adapt to their surroundings shows how intuitive technology is becoming.

Reebok released a shape-shifting sports bra in August 2018 that adapts to wearers' movement. The material incorporates a thickening fluid which changes texture in response to movement. The bra stiffens to provide more support while moving, and softens while the wearer is at rest.

Puma, in partnership with the MIT Design Lab, has created adaptive shoes that respond to the wearer's fatigue.

The insoles use bacteria that responds to sweat and collects biological information about the wearer. Electronic circuits detect changes, transmitting data to help prevent fatigue and improve performance.

Social media wellbeing: Growing pressures caused by using social media have had a negative impact on mental health. Mental strain due to social media can encompass unhappiness, anxiety, and depression.

There are over three billion social media users, according to statistics from Hootsuite and We Are Social.

Facebook's research team said in December 2017 that "when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information -- reading but not interacting with people -- they report feeling worse afterward."

Social companies offering a social platform are taking responsibility by cracking down on heavy consumption and antisocial behavior, and by educating users with new research. Finding a measured way to use social media is key before everyone gives up their accounts for good.

Also: 7 Technologies that will transform Advanced Manufacturing in 2019 

Sound empires: From the explosion of audible entertainment to the expansion of listening formats, your ears are becoming a key gateway to brands. Apple AirPods, introduced in 2017, are becoming normal "always-in" earbuds.

Spotify has introduced Spotlight, which integrates video content into podcasts alongside audio. Amazon-owned Audible has released 77 original audio works between 2017 and 2018, according to The New York Times.

According to Ericsson's TV and Media 2017 report, 70 percent of consumers now watch television and video on mobile devices, a figure that has doubled since 2012.

The pattern is expected to continue, with Ericsson estimating that by 2020, half of all viewing will be done on a mobile screen. These platforms represent a shift toward mobile-first entertainment, particularly among young smartphone users.

Tech's hidden figures: As with every aspect of culture and popular discourse, the #MeToo movement, fourth-wave feminism, and widespread vocal discourse about white male patriarchal power are starting to have wider ripple effects on all industries.

In entertainment, diversity is increasingly becoming a mandate, with movies produced by diverse directors and with diverse casts seeing sensational box office results. It is clear that diverse perspectives are important, and are also unlocking new audiences.

New books and movies are poised to explore the female experience of working in Silicon Valley. From unearthing women's little-publicized -- but critical -- contributions to the growth of tech, to exploring the experience of whistleblowers on treatment of women in the industry.

Former Uber employee Susan Fowler, who shot to fame with an eye-popping account of her time and experiences of sexism and harassment at the platform. The article was titled Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber.

Also: Gartner sets the top 10 tech trends for 2019

Uber ecosystems: Uber is rapidly positioning itself as the ultimate macro-to-micro transport architect. In 2018, it shared designs for electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL) at its Elevate Summit, with a view to creating the world's first urban aviation rideshare network.

It is trying to become the ultimate service for all of your needs. Even its UberEats service aims to be available to 70 percent of the US population by the end of 2018

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said: "We're committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app--so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you're going, whether that's in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more."

Unexpected formats: As experience culture continues to explode, artists are pushing the boundaries of art and science to excite consumers and generate attention.

Creators and innovators are getting more experimental with the experiences they create. Digital formats, artificial intelligence, new technologies, and games are creating rich new creative canvases.

Brands and cultural creators are playing with unexpected formats to generate buzz around their new launches. British band Massive Attack marked the 20th anniversary of its iconic album Mezzanineby encoding it in strands of synthetic DNA.

One spray can contain around one million copies of the album. Artist and band member Robert Del Naja also created a print using ink containing the same DNA.

Also: Digital transformation in 2019: AI, robotics, and IoT

What do you think? Is this too far out, and we will not see this type of tech approaching for another five years or so? Or is it much more pervasive than any of us could have imagined already? The answer is in how ready we are to adopt it.

Cybercrime and malware, 2019 predictions

Related stories:

Editorial standards