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We are now well and truly strapped into the new year and as we accelerate through it what new technologies are we likely to be hearing more about? Below we offer a few of our technology predictions for 2019.

1.Single use plastic packaging

It took the BBC nature documentary series Blue Planet II, which aired in October 2017, for viewers to see what damage plastic pollution, particularly single use packaging, is wreaking in our oceans. It really captured the public’s imagination and businesses and manufacturers are being challenged to do something about it. In response, ambitious targets were set to help eliminate single use plastic and in 2019 we will start to see these changes coming off the drawing board and into our supermarkets, homes and recycling bins. However, expect teething problems such as Yorkshire Tea who experienced some niggles with their fully biodegradable tea bags.

And whilst positive strides are being made in the consumer packaged goods, we expect to see other sectors follow - such as healthcare, transportation and consumer electronics - to reduce plastics too.

2.Personalisation of everything

In 2019, we’ll see an increase in personalization based on an analysis of your DNA. This can range from what we eat such as GenoPalate that is matching an individual’s DNA data with nutrition analysis of food to suggest personalised diets to what we listen to such as the recent partnership between Ancestry.com and Spotify that will offer unique playlists based on an individual’s ancestry and ethnicity.

Other personalisation tactics are emerging via tools like facial recognition to offer personalised services that would otherwise be one size fits all. For instance, Apple has filed a patent for ‘personal comfort profiles’ of passengers and autonomous vehicles. Similarly, Amazon has also patented a system to activate in-car preferences based on the passenger that gets in.

Within the ‘smart home’, surveillance technology is being increasingly targeted at seniors. For instance, last year Google patented the use of ‘always on’ optical sensors in places like bathrooms that can capture blood flow data to analyse cardiovascular function. Amazon have a patent to detect “abnormal” voice conditions like coughing or sore throats, which prompts Alexa to suggest that they order medicine or it contacts a carer.

3.Anti-drone technology

Recent travel chaos caused by rogue drones at Gatwick Airport has drawn the public's attention to the need for anti-drone technology. Big manufacturers like DJI are addressing the issue with improved geo-fencing, however, a lot of anti-drone technology has been in development for a while and during 2019 we will probably see some of it come to light.

Capturing or bringing the drone safely down to earth without causing damage is the challenge and whilst software solutions predominantly involve jamming or taking over the signal between user and craft, hardware solutions involve a variety of technologies such as projectiles including nets, shrapnel and bullets. For instance, OpenWorks Engineering has developed an automated net launching system that physically captures a drone intact with low risk of damage to the drone or surrounding area.

4.Smarter electricity grids

Trying to intelligently control a whole country’s electricity grid is a huge challenge but Origami Energy is an ambitious new technology start-up based in Cambridge that aims to develop the technology required to connect, control and actively manage a large network of existing energy assets to manages supply and demand in real-time.

Local battery systems to exploit lower cost energy will really start to kick off as the technology improves. For instance, the Gyle Premier Inn at Edinburgh Park has installed a lithium ion battery that is able to power the whole 200 room hotel, including the restaurant, for up to three hours at a time allowing it to exploit lower energy tariffs.

With the increasing popularity of electric cars, the capabilities of domestic smart meter technology will accelerate to better exploit renewable energy sources.

5. Clean air technology 

We breathe in 20kg of air every day and this air could contain a toxic cocktail causing detrimental effect on our health.  Technology is increasingly being developed to tackle the problem of air pollution. For instance, in China, a new project in the city of Xi’an aims to help with an enormous 60-metre high chimney. This giant outdoor air purifying system, powered by the sun, filters out noxious particles and billows clean air into the skies.

On a smaller scale, whilst there has been wearable devices and sensors available to inform users of the air quality around them such as Flow, more personal clean air technologies will emerge over the coming year.

6. Enhanced packaging solutions in the pharmaceutical market

As pharmaceutical research continues to develop life-saving therapies, the systems used to package and administer those therapies will simultaneously advance. For instance, today we are seeing new technologies in pharmaceutical packaging seals such as embedded RFID tags and improved blow fill seal technologies that improve usability and shelf life.

Although predicting the future is problematic, 2019 is no doubt going to be an interesting year and we’re ready for the ride.  Our Front End Innovation team are ready to help plan your innovation journey using our holistic combination of customer and technology centric approaches.

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