FutureFive New Zealand logo
Consumer technology news from the future
Story image

Alibaba reveals its top 10 tech trends for the year ahead

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Tue 11 Jan 2022

Alibaba DAMO Academy (DAMO), a global research initiative by Alibaba Group, has released its forecast of the leading trends it believes will shape the tech industry in 2022.

The DAMO list of 10 technology trends for the next two to five years is the result of analysing millions of public papers and patent filings over the past three years and conducting interviews with nearly 100 scientists.

"Over the past century, the evolution of digital technologies has accelerated technological progress and industrial development," says DAMO head, Jeff Zhang.

"The boundary of technologies is extended from the physical world to mixed reality, while more and more cutting-edge technologies find their way to industrial applications. Digital technology plays an important role in powering a green and sustainable future, whether in green data centers and energy-efficient manufacturing or day-to-day activities like paperless offices. With technology, we will create a better future."

He says in the next two years they expect to see a surge of applications running on top of the new computing system, including:

Cloud-network-device convergence

DAMO expects the rapid development of new network technologies will fuel the evolution of cloud computing towards a new computing system, cloud-network-device convergence. With the new system, clouds, networks, and devices have a more clearly defined division of labour. 

"Cloud-network-device convergence is the catalyst that will drive the emergence of new applications to fulfil more demanding tasks, such as high-precision industrial simulation, real-time industrial quality inspection, and mixed reality," says Zhang. "In the next two years, we expect to see a surge of applications running on top of the new computing system. 

"In the next three years, we expect to see AI broadly applied in the research process of applied science, the widespread use of silicon photonic chips in large-scale data centers, AI paving the way for the integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid, people-centric precision medicine becoming a major trend, groundbreaking improvements in the performance and interpretability of privacy-preserving computation, as well as a new generation of XR glasses."

AI for science

For hundreds of years, the scientific community has had two basic paradigms, experimental science and theoretical science. DAMO says the advancement of AI is making new scientific paradigms possible. Machine learning can process massive amounts of multidimensional and multimodal data and solve complex scientific problems, allowing scientific exploration to flourish in areas previously thought impossible. 

DAMO believes AI will accelerate the speed of scientific research and help discover new scientific laws. Over the next three years, it expects AI to be broadly applied in applied science research and be used as a production tool in some basic sciences.

Silicon photonic chips

As the size of transistors approaches physical limits, the speed of electronic chip development can no longer meet the increasing data throughput demand brought by the rise of high-performance computing. 

Unlike electronic chips, silicon photonic chips use photons instead of electrons to transmit data. Photons do not directly interact and can travel longer distances, so silicon photonic chips can provide higher computing density and energy efficiency. 

"The rise of cloud computing and AI drives the rapid development of silicon photonics technology," says Zhang.

"In the next three years, we can expect to see the widespread use of silicon photonic chips in high-speed data transmission in large-scale data centers."

AI for renewable energy

The recent and rapid development of technology in renewable energy such as wind and solar power has made renewables a tempting energy source to add to the power grid. However, DAMO says issues such as difficulty in grid integration, low energy utilisation rates, and storage of excess energy are significant roadblocks along the way. 

It says due to the unpredictable nature of renewable energy power generation, integrating renewable energy sources into the power grid presents challenges that affect the safety and reliability of the grid. The application of AI in the industry is pivotal in improving the efficiency and automation of electric power systems, maximising resource usage and stability. 

High-precision medicine

DAMO expects the convergence of AI and precision medicine to boost expertise and new auxiliary diagnostic technologies and serve as a high-precision compass for clinical medicine. Using this compass, it says doctors will diagnose diseases and make medical decisions as quickly and accurately as possible. 

"These advances will allow us to quantify, compute, predict, and prevent severe diseases," says Zhang. "In the next three years, we expect to see people-centric precision medicine become a major trend that will span multiple fields of healthcare, including disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment."

Privacy-preserving computation

For a long time, the application of privacy-preserving computation has been limited to a narrow scope of small-scale computation. This is due to performance bottlenecks, lack of confidence in the technology, and standardisation issues. 

As more and more integrated technologies, such as dedicated chips, cryptographic algorithms, whitebox implementation, and data trusts emerge, privacy-preserving computation will be adopted in scenarios such as processing massive amounts of data and integrating data from all domains. 

DAMO says the adoption will boost new productivity that is powered by data from all domains. In the next three years, it says we will witness groundbreaking improvements in the performance and interpretability of privacy-preserving computation and the emergence of data trust entities that provide data sharing services based on the technology.

Extended reality (XR)

The development of cloud-edge computing, network communications, and digital twins brings XR into full bloom. XR glasses promise to make immersive mixed reality Internet possible. DAMO says the technology plants the seed for a new industrial ecosystem encompassing electronic components, devices, operating systems, and applications. It says XR will reshape digital applications and revolutionise the way people interact with technology in scenarios such as entertainment, social networking, office, shopping, education, and healthcare. 

"In the next three years, we expect to see a new generation of XR glasses that have an indistinguishable look and feel from ordinary glasses entering the market and serving as a key entry point to the next generation of Internet," says Zhang.

"In the next five years, we expect to see perceptive soft robotics replacing conventional robots in the manufacturing industry, and satellites and terrestrial systems working as computing nodes providing ubiquitous connectivity."

Perceptive soft robotics

Unlike conventional robots, perceptive soft robots have physically flexible bodies and enhanced perceptibility towards pressure, vision, and sound. These robots take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies such as flexible electronics, pressure adaptive materials, and AI, which allow them to perform highly specialised and complex tasks and adapt to different physical environments. 

DAMO expects the emergence of perceptive soft robotics to change the course of the manufacturing industry, from the mass-production of standardised products towards specialised, small-batch products. 

Satellite-terrestrial integrated computing

Terrestrial networks and computing systems provide digital services for densely populated areas, while no service is available in sparsely inhabited areas such as deserts, seas, and space. STC connects high-Earth orbit (HEO) and low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites and terrestrial mobile communications networks, achieving seamless and multidimensional coverage. 

STC also creates a computing system that integrates satellites, satellite networks, terrestrial communications systems, and cloud computing technologies. This makes digital services more accessible and inclusive across the globe. 

DAMO says in the next five years, satellites and terrestrial systems will work as computing nodes to constitute an integrated network system providing ubiquitous connectivity. It expects to see the future of AI shifting to the co-evolution of large and small scale models via clouds, edges, and devices.

Co-evolution of large and small scale AI models

Large-scale pre-training models, also known as the foundation models, are the grounding breakthrough technique from weak AI to general AI, which relatively boosts the performance of various applications using conventional deep learning. 

However, says DAMO, the merit in the higher performance and the drawback in the power consumption are not well-balanced, limiting the exploration of large-scale models. The future of AI is shifting from the race on the scalability of foundation models to the co-evolution of large and small scale models via clouds, edges, and devices, which is more useful in practice.

                       

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Could New Zealanders initiate a cyber attack from within?
The threat landscape is significantly increasing worldwide, and the opportunities it presents are a growing concern in Aotearoa.
Story image
PIJF
The path to bolstering supply chain security in New Zealand
A significant amount of today's business and leisure activity relies on IT supply chains. From complex international freight trades to local small business distribution channels, any supply chain that involves IT infrastructure serves as a crucial tool in our daily lives. 
Story image
Digital Transformation
SAP partners with New Zealand Rugby for digital transformation
The multi-year partnership will see SAP advance NZR with its organisational operations, team performance, fan experience and sustainability goals.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft NZ and TupuToa to boost diversity in cybersecurity sector
Microsoft NZ has teamed up with TupuToa to co-develop a cyber security employment programme specifically aimed at creating more diversity in Aotearoa's cybersecurity sector.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: GoPro Hero 10
I have a long history with GoPro; I still remember getting my first camera when I was 16, using it to film Parkour and the day I lost it down a dingey crag. 
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: 32GB PNY XLR8 Gaming MAKO 6000MHz DDR5 memory kit
PNY’s XLR8 Gaming MAKO DDR5 memory modules are designed to get the most out of systems based on Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs.
Story image
Chorus
Chorus and Nokia launches first trial of 25G PON broadband
Chorus and Nokia have announced the successful demonstration of 25 gigabit per second fibre (Gbps) broadband technology at the Chorus Fibre Lab in Auckland. 
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: Creative Outlier Air V3
Creative is back with the third version of its affordable Outlier Air wireless earbuds range - aptly named the ‘V3’. And this time, they come boasting ambient mode and active noise reduction.
Story image
D-Link
D-Link launches new G415 Smart Router as part of EAGLE PRO AI range
D-Link A/NZ has announced the launch of its new G415 AX1500 4G Smart Router as part of the new EAGLE PRO AI Series.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Story image
Poly
Poly introduces new smart devices and announces Amazon e-store in Australia
Poly is introducing two new pro-grade devices to the market and announcing its first official Australian e-store on Amazon.
Story image
Gaming
PNY launches XLR8 Gaming EPIX memory products in A/NZ
PNY has launched its XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB™ DDR4 Silver 3200MHz and 3600MHz memory products in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: HyperX Pulsefire Haste wireless mouse and HyperX Pulsefire XL Mat
With its lightweight Pulsefire Haste wireless mouse and RGB lit Pulsefire XL Mat, HyperX sets out to up your game and add a little colour to your desktop.
Story image
Collaboration
TikTok launches community-inspired effect capability
TikTok has announced the launch of its Effect House feature to allow its users to create and share Community Effects.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: The A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console
Retro Games, the UK outfit responsible for a range of retro gaming devices from joystick to full-sized Vic-20s and C64 emulators, have launched their A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Steelseries Aerox 9 Wireless and Aerox 5 gaming mice
Steelseries offered two interesting mice for review, the Aerox 9 Wireless, aimed at MMO/MOBA players, and the Aerox 5, a wired mouse for multi-genre use.
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Mobility
Hands-on review: STM laptop bags
The advent of hybrid working has meant we need laptop bags. We got our hands on two of the most popular laptop bags from STM.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Technics EAH-A800 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Designed in Osaka, Japan, these headphones just exude quality. They aren’t heavy, but they feel well built and solid.
Story image
Design
Dynabook launches new Tecra A40-K and A50-K models
Dynabook has announced two new additions to its Tecra range, with both said to help promote flexible working solutions while also reducing the strain on IT managers.
Story image
Surveillance
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: WD_Black SN770 NVMe SSD Game Drive
Western Digital expands its WD_Black range of NVMe solid-state drives with the WD_Black SN770 Game Drive.
Story image
TUANZ
TUANZ to address rural connectivity at 2022 symposium
TUANZ is hosting the Rural Connectivity Symposium for the first time in person since 2019, providing a forum to discuss the state of rural connectivity.
Story image
Dynabook
Dynabook refreshes Portégé X30L series with the Portégé X30L-K
The new model contains hybrid-architecture Intel 12th Gen Core P-Series 28W processor options, Wi-Fi 6E, along with Intel Iris Xe graphics.
Story image
PaaS
New digital traffic light system to tackle construction defects
Smarter Defects Management launches its PaaS digital system and says it will revolutionise managing defects in the construction industry.
Story image
i-PRO
i-Pro announces newest solutions as rebranded enterprise
i-PRO APAC Oceania has introduced its newest high-resolution mid-range cameras, with combined edge AI analytics and resolutions of up to 4K.
Story image
Gaming
Mastercard users can now use rewards points in gaming
Mastercard has launched Mastercard Gamer Xchange (MGX), allowing APAC consumers to convert their rewards points into gaming currency.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Google to enter the smartwatch market with the Google Pixel Watch
Google has provided a first look at its new Google Pixel Watch, which is set to make an entry into the competitive smartwatch market.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Jabra
Jabra reveals its latest portable headset Engage 55
Jabra has launched the Engage 55, the newest product in Jabra's Engage series designed for ultimate call security and quality.
Story image
Sustainability
The AI Forum helps NZ pave the way with AI sustainability practices
Non-profit organisation The AI Forum is helping Kiwis learn about addressing climate change issues through the use of AI technology.
Story image
Norton
Hands-on review: Norton Anti Track 19 software
We get hands on with Norton's new privacy tool that was introduced in March 2022.
Story image
Corsair
Hands-on review: Corsair 32GB Vengeance 5200MHz DDR5 DRAM kit
Corsair’s Vengeance 5200MHz DDR5 DRAM offers PC users an entry-level upgrade to the new memory standard allowing them to get a little bit more out of their new Alder Lake CPUs.
Story image
IDC
IDC finds 3.9% decline in worldwide tablet shipments
Preliminary data from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker has found tablet shipments reached 38.4 million units during Q1 2022, a year-over-year decline of 3.9%.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
In almost every respect it works like a book, apart from the fact that it weighs next to nothing, fits in my hand perfectly, and is soothing on my eyes.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Getty Images delves into the world of NFTs with Candy Digital
Getty Images and Candy Digital, the next-generation digital collectible company, have announced a new multi-year partnership agreement.
Story image
Logitech
Logitech releases new mouse with ergonomic and sustainable focus
Logitech has announced the Logitech Signature M650 Mouse and the Signature M650 for Business Wireless Mouse, both with new ergonomic features and capabilities.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard
It’s all change with Intel’s 12th generation CPUs. We have a new chipset in the 600-series, a new socket with the LGA 1700, and new DDR5 memory.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft unveils adaptive accessories for disability access
Microsoft is introducing an expansive Inclusive Tech Lab to give people with disabilities greater access to technology through new software features and adaptive accessories.
Story image
Mobility
Tyson Beckford partners with Element Case on new AppleWatch band
Celebrity Tyson Beckford has collaborated with STM Brands' Element Case brand to create a rugged new accessory.
Story image
Sony
Sony launches LinkBuds S - the latest model in the series
Sony says the LinkBuds S will give users a unique sound experience through sensor and spatial sound technology, even in AR games.
Story image
Phishing
WhatsApp and QR codes the next scam threat - report
KnowBe4 has warned it expects to see an increase in QR Codes and the WhatsApp chat platform being used for phishing and other scams. 
Story image
First Table
First Table set to revive restaurant commerce in NZ with platform launch
A new restaurant booking platform has launched in New Zealand, giving Kiwi diners the opportunity to save and book at a variety of restaurants around the country.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft backing Māori and Pacific wāhine in tech industry
A new initiative focused on getting Māori and Pacific wāhine into the tech industry and backed by Microsoft, NZTech and the government is calling for tech companies to get involved.