Softil, the de-facto leading enabler of IP communications products and services, today presents eight key trends that could have a profound impact on the way people communicate in 2018. From citizen reporting to messaging and chatbots, the New Year will bring rich developments for first responders and enterprise communications.
“From First Responders ditching radio for MC LTE devices to the introduction of universal messaging platforms using enhanced AI algorithms that fade the line between talking to a machine or a person, the year 2018 will see seismic changes in the way people communicate,” says Pierre Hagendorf, CEO Softil. “And Softil’s communications technologies will be at the heart of them.”
The year 2015/2016 saw increased market interest in mission-critical communications over LTE (MC LTE). It is now one of the five pillars of the 5G strategy of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) needed to make a practical difference in the life-saving work of First Responders. Moving first responders from using a simple radio to a smartphone is not a cosmetic change – it calls for a change of the platform. The smartphone-like platform will unleash a slew of enhancements as it will allow IoT/M2M functionality to be easily added to devices, creating a new level of integrated experience for first responders.
The year 2018 should see the first practical trials of MC LTE technology and the appearance of many prototypes of new devices for first responders. Next year, the industry should expect deployments of MC LTE full solutions, the beginning of the end of radios in favour of MC LTE devices.In 2018, the IP communications industry will see the continuing increase of “Citizen reporting” capabilities. However, the true hope is that all the variety of the private reporting apps and solutions will become a catalyst for practical implementation of NG911/e911 solutions where “citizen reporting” is achieved naturally by means of a fully capable emergency communication client. This will be available on every device post 2018. In 2018, WebRTC will continue to change the collaboration world albeit slowly. In its pure form, WebRTC will still be confined to desktop browsers and will not make deep inroads into the mass device market. The industry will see, however, more integration of WebRTC clients into the enterprise communication flow either directly or through gateways. Whilst the potential introduction of session signaling in the WebRTC will be interesting, it will not slow down the roll out of enterprise WebRTC. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality use cases are abundant and technology exists to support the computational and feature requirements needed to achieve a total immersive experience. In practicality, despite concerns over costs, expect some prototypes or early releases of video communication gadgets with built in AR capabilities in 2018/2019. It’s been cooking for a while and industry is coming to the conclusion where network APIs, developed for ages in MEF, ONF and other bodies, are ready for prime time – traditional interactive video, IoT and 5G all stand to benefit from API-manageable networks. The year 2018 is expected to see the first successful proof of concepts (PoC) and interops with full deployments of practical applications in 2019/2020. It’s still not clear what advances in video coding will emerge in 2018. However, 360° sound is a strong contender to move from research laboratories to devices in 2018/2019. If so, 360° sound will greatly help enhance virtual reality (VR) applications and be very cool. People love messaging, and the industry will provide. We will see appearance of the universal messaging platforms, connecting all the disparate islands together. Going beyond human to human interaction, the combination of messaging platforms and ever improving AI algorithms will lead to further fading of the fine line between talking to a person or to a machine. Now throw in IoT capabilities to talk to and to control things, and more of science fiction fantasy will become life’s reality. The year 2018 might be a bit too early to see a tectonic shift, but there is an excellent chance to really feel the change in 2019/2020 timeframe. Expect 2018 to be the “year of the blockchain”. Born to secure financial transactions, blockchain is now becoming a foundation for secure communication and information sharing across multiple, totally unrelated knowledge domains. In 2018, we should expect to see a significant number of new innovative products in multiple verticals outside the strictly computer technology space (such as biology and chemistry), all powered and secured by blockchain technology.