The pace of technology seems to be accelerating. It’s going so fast, thanks to certain companies, that it feels like the future is in the present. That includes the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous driving, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and more.
Here are five companies that illustrate that they have a firm grasp on the future and are giving us a glimpse of what that looks like today.
News from Lyft last month noted that self-driving cars would be handling most of its rides by 2021. While many companies and manufacturers have been working on autonomous technology, Lyft’s news that it has struck out on its own to deliver it in the next four years is huge.
Other companies continue to struggle with the technology, but Lyft appears to be moving along. It has even shared some of what it’s working on, including proof that many of the concerns that previously seemed to be holding this technology back could be addressed.
2. DataRPM, a Progress Company
In offering predictive maintenance and cognitive technology for fleet management, DataRPM aims to illustrate what the future of fleet management looks like. Additionally, the company’s use of AI shows the potential connectivity level that could be developed within the automotive industry. The results promise to yield major benefits for manufacturers and consumers.
For example, manufacturers could use AI to identify patterns in performance data to uncover potentially dangerous situations before they result in any harm. This ability would improve driver safety. DataRPM’s Cognitive Predictive Maintenance (CPdM) solution enables manufacturers and fleet managers to reduce downtime. It can also enhance efficiency to deliver major cost savings. While individual drivers may not notice the impact of these CPdM capabilities, fleet managers can increase their fuel efficiency by 5-10%. They could also reduce unplanned downtime in some cases by 100%.
[Related: 6 Ways to Put Your Big Data to Work]
3. Ameren Accelerator Powered by University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate, and Capital Innovators
This accelerator program is helping to create a picture of what smart energy will look like in the not-so-distant future. Ameren Accelerator is an innovative partnership with the University of Missouri System, UMSL Accelerate, and Capital Innovators that mentors and invests in energy technology startups. During its recent campaign, more than 200 companies from 31 countries applied for the 12-week Ameren Accelerator program.
Some of the exciting energy ideas that came from this recent campaign included a substation hardened distributed fiber optic sensor that can enable the IoT using a smart grid. Switched Source, one of the companies in the first cohort, is focused on increasing the reliability and efficiency of the last mile of electricity delivery. It’s commercializing the next generation of smart grid hardware solutions in such a way as to give electric companies enhanced control over managing the distribution grid’s power flows.
This global company is leading the way in AI development for numerous applications. Named the smartest company in the world by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nvidia has solutions for self-driving cars, gaming, cloud platforms, 3D rendering, and more. It may even be producing a cryptocurrency mining-specific chip. This could help build momentum for Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrency companies mentioned at No. 5 in this list.
Its accomplishments are like the stuff of science fiction dreams. However, the reality is that it’s pushing the limits of AI to new boundaries. Nvidia also illustrates how AI can push every industry and business segment forward into the future, one way or another.
Like it or not, technology is already proving that the future is here in terms of payments. Consumers and businesses are moving to digital payments such as e-cash methods. More people already rely on their EMV cards, digital wallets, and peer-to-peer payments via email, social media, and text. Cash and checks may soon disappear.
While some remain skeptical about digital currencies like Bitcoin, others are seeing that cryptocurrency is already disrupting business processes. This includes financial and nonfinancial transactions — everything from contracts and files to medical records and data storage. Behind Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrency, companies are blockchain, the distributed ledger that’s mixing it up.
Bitcoin and other blockchain-based companies are proving that we don’t have to rely on centralized models. The future may not have the financial institutions that have defined our civilization for centuries. Instead, a decentralized model is already proving its worth.