AI, edge computing among Austin tech trends to watch in 2020


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Technology companies in Austin will continue to integrate tech into the physical world in 2020, making the city smarter and more connected, analysts say.

The Austin Forum on Technology and Society will dive into the top tech trends for the coming year at its first event of 2020 Tuesday night at the Austin Central Library downtown.

“We’ll talk about both technologies that will really become mainstream next year, even more so than now, and others that the buzz will continue, but maybe they’re not ready to become mainstream,” said Jay Boisseau, the Forum’s founder and executive director.

Boisseau gave KXAN a preview of some of the trends to watch, including artificial intelligence, edge computing and quantum computing.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

A lot of companies are already deeply involved with AI, but Boisseau believes it will move into more real-world applications this year.

Companies like SparkCognition and and Valkyrie Intelligence are already experimenting in the AI space in Austin.

KXAN profiled Valkyrie last year. The company developed a way to identify and track cars on Austin roads and hoped the technology would have an application with Army Futures Command.

Edge Computing

Austin is also primed to capitalize on advances in edge computing, Boisseau said.

“Not all computing will be in data centers and clouds, but much of it will start to move out to the real world where the data actually occurs, where things happen,” he explained.

More of the physical world will be equipped with sensors and data processors “that can act on data in real time as they get it.”

This is especially important for self-driving cars, he said, allowing vehicles to communicate with their environment to keep people safe inside and outside the car.

Ford announced last year Austin will serve as a test market for its self-driving vehicles. The car company plans to map out the city’s roads this year.

Quantum Computing

Standard computing uses binary code — 0s and 1s — to process data, imposing limits on the amount of processing power traditional computers can generate.

Quantum computing exploits characteristics of atoms and other tiny particles to vastly expand the abilities of processors, allowing researchers to tackle problems in fields like medicine that computers currently can’t.

“We’ll hear a lot of buzz about that,” Boisseau said, “even though it’s probably going to be three to five years before we see a lot of business adoption of quantum computing.”

The Austin Forum on Technology and Society will dig into those topics and others more deeply at Tuesday’s event, “Top Tech Trends for 2020 (And Beyond).” It starts at 6:15 p.m. at Austin’s Central Library.

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