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drone3 Photo: DHL
A drone operated by DHL

Consumer technology trends that could impact trucking

Demand for longer-lasting batteries, 24/7 earphones, and “sky roads” might affect the process of hauling freight from one place to another.

Many of the technological trends now sweeping the trucking industry often get started in the consumer world.

Uber is a prime example, with the name for this ride-hailing app now used as a verb to describe a wide variety of new freight shipment techniquesincluding its own.

There are other new consumer trends gaining steam that could possibly touch trucking as well – especially the growing demand for longer-life batteries, so folks don’t have to recharge their smart phones, tablet computers, and other devices as much.

That need for longer-life batteries spills over in the vehicle propulsion world, as well, where all-electric trucks such as Tesla’s Semi Class 8 rig (due to arrive in 2019) or Mitsubishi Fuso’s eCanter (already available and operating) need longer-lasting power to extend the range and thus the applicability of their platforms within the freight-hauling business.

Ericsson ConsumerLab compiles an annual report – The 10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2018 and beyond – that examines such trends to see if they’ve got the legs to develop and become reality.

Again, that research is focused on consumer technology trends, but truckers for sure can envision how some of them could impact their world down the road.

The big overarching them Ericsson believes is illuminated by its 2018 report is “paradigm shift” now occurring whereby consumers expect digital technology to increasingly operate on “human” terms.

By that they mean body language, facial expression and “intonation” will augment voice and touch controls consumers use to “interact” with their technological devices.

[All in preparation for us arguing with ‘droids, I expect.]

“We are entering a future where devices neither have buttons and switches nor need to be controlled digitally via your smartphone. In fact, this may be a necessary change, as it would be difficult for people to learn a new user interface for every device that gets connected to the Internet of Things,” explained Michael Björn, head of research at Ericsson ConsumerLab, in a statement.

“Today, you have to know all the intricacies of the devices you use. But in the future, the devices will know you instead,” he said. “For this to become a reality, devices must be able to relay complex human interaction data to cloud-based processing, and respond intuitively within milliseconds, increasing requirements on next generation connectivity.”

Here are some seven trends taking shape, according to the firm’s report, that truckers might want to keep an eye upon:

  1. Your Body is the User Interface: More than half of current users of intelligent voice assistants believe that we will use body language, expression, intonation and touch to interact with tech devices as if they were fellow humans. In fact two in three think this will happen within just three years.
  2. Augmented Hearing: 63% of consumers would like earphones that translate languages in real time, while 52% want to use them to block out a family member's snoring.
  3. Eternal Newbies: 30% say new technology makes it hard to keep their skills up to date, yet it also makes people “instant experts.” About 46% said the internet allows them to learn and forget skills faster than ever.
  4. Uncanny Communication: 50% think not being able to tell the difference between human and machine would spook them out, while 40% would also be spooked by a smartphone that reacts to their mood.
  5. Leisure Society via Robotics: 32% of students and working people do not think they need a job to develop a meaningful life, with 40% saying they would like a robot that works and earns income for them, freeing up leisure time.
  6. Streets in the Air: City streets may be choked with traffic but the skies remain free. That’s why 39% think their city needs a road network for drones and flying vehicles. But almost as many worry that a drone would drop on their head.
  7. The Charged Future: The connected world will require mobile power so more than 80% of those polled believe that in only five years we will have long-lasting batteries that will put an end to charging concerns.
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