10 Tech Developments to Watch in 2020

As 2020 draws near, I’ve rounded up 10 technology stories that bear watching over the next 12 months. The list is a sampling of some of the most important tech trends on my radar. I’ll be covering these stories and many more next year. Feel free to contact me with questions or comments on any of the topics. Continue reading “10 Tech Developments to Watch in 2020”

The Coming Challenges for Disney in the Streaming Wars

Disney’s new online video streaming service is a blockbuster hit with consumers. Just one day after Disney+ launched on Nov. 12, the company announced a staggering 10 million sign-ups. Millions more have signed up since, a clear demonstration of Disney’s iconic brand and marketing muscle. “We’ve never seen a product coming to market with this amount of interest,” says Michael Goodman, the director of digital media at the market research firm Strategy Analytics.

But the streaming wars will be a marathon, not a sprint. Disney has a long way to go, though it has certainly made a splash with its content. The service features movies from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and Disney classics. It has The Simpsons, original TV shows and much more. Continue reading “The Coming Challenges for Disney in the Streaming Wars”

What’s Next for Drone Delivery

Imagine hankering for a pint of ice cream from your favorite ice cream shop five miles away. But this time, instead of hopping in your car, you tap the “drone delivery” option on a mobile app. About 10 minutes later, the mint chocolate chip is lowered via a tether from a drone hovering above your backyard.

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction. But drone companies have plans to make it happen. Continue reading “What’s Next for Drone Delivery”

More Manufacturers Turn to Robotic Arms

Labor shortages. Intense global competition. Fast-changing market demands.  Small and midsized manufacturers face a slew of challenges.

“There’s increasing pressure from all sides,” says Stuart Shepherd, regional director of sales in the Americas for Universal Robots, a leading seller of small robotic arms. Continue reading “More Manufacturers Turn to Robotic Arms”

Washington Mulls Reining in Big Tech on Privacy

If you’re worried about your privacy online, you aren’t alone. Uncle Sam is cracking down on companies for violating consumers’ privacy and looking to impose more regulation.

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Facebook to provide more transparency for how it uses people’s data. The FTC also fined Facebook $5 billion for being deceptive about how it handled users’ data. Continue reading “Washington Mulls Reining in Big Tech on Privacy”

Cutting-Edge Uses of Drones are Coming On Fast

Drone companies, large and small, are racing to find as many viable drone applications as possible to go along with today’s popular uses, such as aerial mapping in the agriculture sector. There are close to 400,000 commercial drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, and many more are poised to take off in coming years.

Though there is still plenty of red tape to be cut, the feds are helping push the industry forward. The White House has expressed strong support for industry innovation in the hopes of drones being used in the delivery of medicine, emergency management and much more. This May, the Department of Transportation selected 10 state, local and tribal governments to participate in a pilot program aimed at collecting drone data on flying at night, flying over people, delivering packages and other promising areas. Continue reading “Cutting-Edge Uses of Drones are Coming On Fast”

China’s High-Tech Ambitions Take On 5G

Rising tensions between the U.S. and China extend far beyond trade. A battle over high-tech markets is ramping up as China seeks to lead the world in 5G, the latest version of cellular technology.

China’s 5G strategy increasingly worries U.S. officials, who see Chinese telecom gear as a national security threat that could allow Beijing to spy on communications or help developing nations censor parts of the web, as China does. There’s growing fear that China’s leading companies are poised to out-compete and out-innovate U.S. tech giants. That has riled U.S. lawmakers, who point to years of stolen intellectual property by China and unfair conditions imposed on U.S. firms doing business in the country. Continue reading “China’s High-Tech Ambitions Take On 5G”

Big Tech Won’t Be Broken Up, but Big Changes Are Coming

Calls are growing louder to split apart Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and other tech giants. A group of activists and scholars seek to use decades-old antitrust reasoning to regulate or break up today’s largest tech companies. “It’s definitely a new and much greater drumbeat today than it has been,” says Charlotte Slaiman, competition policy counsel at Public Knowledge, a public interest nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

The rising movement, known as hipster antitrust, “attacks ‘bigness’ per se, says Joe Kennedy, senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Kennedy points out in a report that a policy shift in that direction could produce more uncertainty, slow innovation and even reduce economic growth. That threat, however unlikely, strikes fear into some of the country’s biggest companies. Continue reading “Big Tech Won’t Be Broken Up, but Big Changes Are Coming”

Fight Back Against Time-Wasting Robocalls

The scourge of unwanted and often illegal robocalls isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, in the near term, it might even grow worse. Billions of robocalls are made each month, including fraudsters trying to steal your identity or raid your bank account by impersonating IRS or Social Security officials.

Some relief is on the horizon, though. Federal regulators and industry are beefing up efforts to penalize bad actors and roll out new preventative technologies. Software that blocks unwanted calls or better identifies who’s calling is improving quickly. And businesses are trying new text-based messaging services to reach customers who ignore voice calls. Continue reading “Fight Back Against Time-Wasting Robocalls”