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Binoculars on top of a binocular case with a serene meadow reflected in the lenses

Binoculars on top of a binocular case with a serene meadow reflected in the lenses

SCU Thought Leader Predictions: 12 Hot Trends for 2018

In our third annual predictions article, we asked our thought leaders, "What innovative product, idea, trend, concept, or development are you most excited for in 2018?"

Here are their responses:

Biometrics as the Security Norm: Apple is already using facial recognition technology to let users unlock their iPhone, and I expect other tech companies to move toward a more secure way of protecting user information than sticking with a traditional password. I'm interested to see how biometrics will be used to secure your information online. – Kurt Wagner ’12, Tech Journalist

Augmented Reality: Low-cost augmented reality will spawn a variety of compelling applications in 2018 and will become a staple of smartphone applications. My research team uses robots to find and characterize invisible clouds of gases, contaminants, and radiation. We’re using virtual and augmented reality to display data from the robots, allowing us to “see” and explore these plumes so that we can help first responders, security personnel, and scientists. – Christopher Kitts, Robotics Jedi

Flexible Work Environment and Benefits: With the rise of the happiness movement, wellness in the workplace, and mainstream meditation, the climate is ripe for employers to offer a variety of flexible work options as a way to attract and retain their workforce. Employees will have the freedom to participate in more extracurricular work activities as an effort to increase work-life balance, job satisfaction, and personal happiness and well-being. – Jill Klees M.A. ’95, Career & Wellness Guru

A Return to Olympic Ideals: In the wake of the historic ban on Russian athletes from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Games, political power will shift away from the three dominant nations (U.S., China, Russia) and back toward the international community (more on Olympic Ideas and values). Also look for Vladimir Putin to find some way to retaliate against the International Olympics Committee and the United States (where whistle-blowers are in protective custody). – Kelly Crowley ’99, Athletics Educator & Policy Wonk

Accelerating Growth of Apprenticeships and Vocational Training: Growing concerns about income inequality and the lack of economic mobility in the U.S. will renew interest in innovative workforce development programs. Apprenticeships will be expanded in non-traditional areas like financial services, business development, and information technology. Through these programs, new job and career opportunities will emerge for underrepresented groups, especially women. – Drew Starbird MBA ’84, New Business Booster

The Remote Workforce Will Continue to Grow: 37 percent of employees work at least partially by telecommuting, and this trend will continue to grow in 2018. With the ubiquity of mobile devices and good wifi, it’s possible to get work done anywhere. – Dean Ku, Career Consigliere

Americans Will Be More Stressed Than Ever Before: An annual comprehensive survey titled Stress in America, published by the American Psychological Association, found that 2017 was a record-breaking stressful year with respondents stating that the state of our nation and political discord was more stressful than their work and home lives. Sadly, stress is likely to get worse before it gets better for most Americans in 2018, and stress-related disorders and problems are likely to increase too. So, buckle up for a hair-raising 2018! – Thomas G. Plante, Health Psychologist

The Consumption of Sport and the Fan Experience: As sport evolves, so does the consumption of sport. Whether fans soak in the atmosphere of a game in person using smartphone apps to guide their experience, or whether fans interact with sport through social media, TV, or even virtual reality, active sport engagement will continue to thrive. – Jeff Mitchell, Athletics Commentator

Fear of Artificial Intelligence Pushes Us to Retake Control of Our Work: People who don’t learn to work with artificial intelligence (AI) may find themselves replaced, not by AI but by people who leverage AI in the design of their work. While the ideas of customizing our work have been around for a while (e.g., telecommuting, freelancing, “bring your own device”), increasing use of AI will push more of us to take control of how we do our work and with what tools. – Terri Griffith, Plugged-In Manager

Blockchain Technology Will Empower Refugees: According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, a record high 65.6 million people have been forced from their homes because of climate change and human conflict. Blockchain technology—an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way (Harvard Business Review)—can provide refugees unique digital identities to secure assets and access direct aid. – Thane Kreiner, Global Impact Leader

Gravity Waves Are Becoming Serious Business: Two black holes collided in 2015. The results: a powerful gravity wave and a Nobel Prize for the scientists who designed the experiment. In 2018 the number of gravity wave detectors will double – two new ones in Italy and Japan together with two existing U.S. experiments. More exciting discoveries are sure to follow! – Phil Kesten, Physics Nerd

Collaborative Grass Roots Activism: I look forward to a deeper, more nuanced development of the #metoo movement. Ten years before it became a hashtag rallying cry, the "Me Too" movement was initiated by Tarana Burke, an African-American activist who sought to address rampant sexual assault and harassment in her community. Real social change takes time and I look forward to building to a world free of violence. – Margaret Russell, Social Justice Advocate

Check out previous year’s predictions from 2016 and 2017.

Engineering, Business, Technology, Athletics, Global, Science, Innovation
Illuminate, career, women, psychology, social media, environment, physics, activism, health

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