5G, IoT, and AI are all game-changers expected to make 2020 an exciting year. In Silicon Valley, and globally.
Trend 1: Breakout moments for AI in manufacturing
AI is a game-changer in the manufacturing industry; during 2020 manufacturers are expected to continue to launch pilot projects and solutions that will improve both performance and profit.
One company that stands out in developing AI technologies for manufacturing is Silicon Valley-based Vicarious. The company that is backed by investors like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg develops artificial general intelligence for robots, enabling them to generalize and learn from only a few examples. Vicarious recently presented a robot that could read and understand IKEA manuals; in other words: learn itself how to assemble furniture.
Two other AI companies in Silicon Valley to keep an eye on during 2020 are San Francisco-startup Osaro, and Foghorn Systems in Sunnyvale.
Trend 2: Commercial 5G opens up for business
During 2020 we will see commercial 5G networks going live, which will unlock the development of more advanced technologies and new companies.
Ericsson – one of the 5G technology leaders – is increasing demand for the new network by inviting partners to their D15 Studio in Santa Clara, where challenges get transformed into IoT and AI solutions powered by 5G.
Trend 3: Checkout-free supermarkets enter the market
Amazon recently launched Amazon Go, a system that uses IoT and machine vision technologies to enable consumers to shop without manual check out. In San Francisco, there are four Amazon Go stores where customers buy snacks and lunches.
During 2020 Amazon is planning to open a larger cashier-free supermarket outside of Los Angeles, and San Francisco is most likely also on the top of the list of attractive locations.
A company to keep an eye on is San Francisco-based Zippin that has developed a checkout-free technology enabling retailers to quickly deploy checkout-free and frictionless shopping in their stores.
Trend 4: Blockchain climbs out of the hype
Industry watchers expect 2020 to be the year we will see use of blockchain technology go beyond cryptocurrency. Payment processing, data sharing, equity trading, health records, and contract/document keeping, and tracking are areas where the benefits are obvious.
A growing company that is already successfully using blockchain technology is 23andme, with headquarters in San Francisco. With the use of blockchain the company is able to send anonymous genetic information around the world in the blink of an eye.
Trend 5: Increased demand for edge computing processing power
There is a growing need to infer more data and then make decisions without sending data to the cloud. With 5G and IoT the amounts of data will be enormous, and it makes sense to process it closer to where it is collected and then send it to the cloud.
Silicon Valley tech giants like Intel is working actively with edge computing, and it is sometimes called 5G edge computing.
A company to look out for in edge computing is Palo Alto-based startup SambaNova Systems, which is using a technology mainly developed at Stanford University.
Trend 6: The official start of the quantum computing era
As the amounts of data will increase dramatically when 5G is rolled out, industries like health care and energy will have to use quantum computing to find solutions to big challenges. The ability to handle big data will be required for cancer treatment, nuclear energy control, and DNA analysis.
Big tech corporations like IBM, Google and Intel have already moved into the quantum computing era.
Palo Alto-based startup QC Ware is carving out a role for itself as a “quantum computing-as-a-service” company today.
Trend 7: Back in space
Mankind will begin the return to space in 2020, largely driven by the private sector. Since the Cold War, technological advances have slowed. Notable companies now making aerospace advancements include SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk.
A company to look out for is Mountain View-based startup Made in Space, which has created a 3-D printer that builds materials in space, and works closely with NASA.
Trend 8: Predictions at the genome level
The evolution of AI will improve the quality of treatment. In 2020, many medical images were taken using MRI, CT scans, and X-rays will be diagnosed using AI.
Under the theme of prevention, digital health care has seen much innovation. In the US, Silicon Valley startups 23andme and Color have taken the lead in genome analysis. These companies use genomic analysis to learn about diseases and provide prevention methods.
Trend 9: Evolution in agriculture
In agriculture, companies that offer products using computer vision, AI, and big data will stand out in 2020.
Companies to look out for are Oakland-based Ceres Imaging, and Farmwise in San Francisco.
In San Francisco, you will also find startup Abundant Robotics, which has developed robots that harvest plants and fruits.
Trend 10: Evolution of autonomous driving technology
Autonomous driving has been a hot topic for years, although level 5 (fully autonomous) has not been realized.
Some Tesla cars can be switched to autopilot mode on the highway, but this is only possible up to level 2 (driving support) or level 3 (operated by the driver in an emergency).
To reach level 5 will continue to be the goal for the automotive industry during 2020, and the big auto companies are all present in Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley startups to look out for include Perceptive Automata, and Luminar, which works closely with auto companies like Volvo Cars.