Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

27.12.2019 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 178


This Christmas, I promised myself, I definitely wouldn’t overindulge and then collapse in front of the TV and start pumping out zeds. But with a beautiful meal prepared and family gathered, the inevitable happened and before I knew it, I looked like Homer Simpson on the couch complete with dribble running from the corner of my mouth.

In much the same way I promised myself this year that I wouldn’t do a ‘Year in Review’ column but the inexorable draw of the end of year retrospective column has consumed me and, try as I may, I can’t help but look back over some of the technology from this year.

For the record, this is NOT an end of decade review. In the same way that all those parties on 31 December 1999 to celebrate the end of the century got it wrong, the end of this decade doesn’t occur until the end of 2020. Phew! I got that off my chest!

Despite the unfounded health concerns, the 5G network is one of my highlights. Although technically Telstra switched on 5G in ten cities last year, this year has seen an increased adoption of 5G with over twenty-five cities across the nation having access to 5G and, just as importantly, several devices available that support 5G, including a mobile broadband Wi-Fi device. Australia is one of only ten countries with 5G coverage of any note.

With promises of greater speed, more capacity and lower latency, 5G will enable the unlocking of a huge number of other technology advances including the world of IoT (Internet of Things).

The wearables market is the next area that saw some giant leaps in 2019. Who needs a doctor when you have a watch to assess and monitor your personal health? Watches now allow continuous heart rate monitoring; ECG; sleep tracking; cardio fitness measuring; menstrual cycle tracking and a great feature that I cannot convince my children to use. Noise monitoring to help the wearer of a watch determine when a concert may be damaging your hearing (you would think the ringing sound for two days following a concert would be a subtle hint!) With international emergency calling with fall detection, wearers really feel safer and healthier with their latest wearable.

With the health of the planet in mind, electric cars have been around for some time but this year added some interesting twists. Lotus introduced a fully electric supercar; Lamborghini produced a hybrid production car and the bastion of petrol-heads, Harley Davidson, added electric motors to their mix. The 2020 Olympics will see autonomous electric vehicles being used to transport athletes. And the darling of the EV industry, Tesla, introduced their Cybertruck - with mixed reviews.

There were some negatives as well. Though technically the Cambridge Analytica scandal was a 2018 news story, the fallout continued in 2019 with the Federal Trade Commission issuing a US$5 billion fine and privacy concerns given as the main reason for the loss of 15 million Facebook users.

Unfortunately, I can’t have a year in review without mention of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the revolutionary folding mobile phone that threw in other features for free such as delamination and fragility. Foldable phones will be in our future, just not part of 2019.

The Boeing 737 MAX also shows how we can sometimes rely on technology too much. Complete trust in an overaggressive automation system was given as a direct contributor to two crashes with significant loss of life.

While I prepare for some snoozing during the Boxing Day Test, tell me your biggest technology moments of 2019 at ask@techtalk.digital.

Mathew Dickerson