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Splunk 2021 Predictions: 5G won't hit in 2021 and Biometrics will move into the cloud

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

5G won't hit in 2021 and Biometrics will move into the cloud

By Jesse Chor, Head of Mobile Engineering, Splunk

The past year has been marred by instability, but also driven by technical disruption, creativity and flexibility. Somehow, data security got even more difficult in 2020 and emerging technologies, such as AR/VR and 5G became even more complex. 2021 will be no exception.

From the emergence of WiFi 6 to increased biometric adoption (and everything in between), here's what we can expect in the new year:

Stolen phone? No problem. Biometric identification will protect your social networks. The surface area of security has expanded because of COVID and mobile, and that's definitely a concern. I think COVID is going to really accelerate the adoption of biometric identification for security and payments.

Biometric adoption, like two-factor authentication, will increase sharply. A key evolution in biometric verification will be solutions that don't store your data on your device. Because if the app that verifies your thumb print is stored on your phone, bad guys need only hack your phone (which may be preferable to hacking your thumb, actually).

While biometric identification is a great way to minimize security breaches that depend on account or identity theft, the field is highly controversial, particularly around facial recognition. Legal and ethical guidelines will have to be worked out on the national and international level, and permissible use of biometric data may vary. But biometric technologies are too important and useful to kill.

Biometrics will move up in the world. And into the cloud. The data won't be stored on your phone. It's going to live in the cloud. The phone just sends the thumbprint it receives to another entity, and it's up to that entity to decide, ‘is this the right one?'. And your device won't send your actual biometric data, but a hash, just like we do with passwords now.

Despite rising appetite, 5G won't hit in 2021. Expect rollout to be held up by hardware challenges at least into 2022. The biggest obstacle for 5G is the physical limitations of the technology. Especially with COVID, manufacturing has been slowed, and it's really hard now to get fleets of people to install things, to even get the proper permits. But despite the real barriers to adoption right now, the demand for higher bandwidth is going up. Between work-from-home and the hunger for streaming entertainment, people are very bandwidth-hungry.

Never mind the 5G. Here's the WiFi 6. A lot of the benefits we want from 5G will be delivered first by WiFi 6, an available but not-yet-widespread technology. WiFi 6 is at least 10 times faster than regular WiFi, so it will bring the bandwidth and low latency we talk about with 5G. Schools and corporate campuses can benefit from the technology, and it will be a major part of the bandwidth equation that includes 5G. WiFi 6 is great for internal devices you control, manage and own.

Latency improvements will be top of mind for both WiFi 6 and 5G. While reducing latency isn't the most talked about topic when it comes to WiFi 6 and 5G, it will actually be the biggest driver of adoption for both technologies. An example that hits very close to home for many of us is the "video-conferencing call effect," when everyone seems to be talking at once due to latency issues. We don't have this issue in real life because the latency for speed of sound is extremely fast and our brains can process when it's time to talk. As we continue to work remotely, latency improvements will be a key focus area not only for collaboration tools, but for advanced technologies like VR and streaming.

AR/VR's breakthrough application will be immersive collaborative communication. So the question becomes, ‘how do remote teams effectively replace actually being in front of each other?'. We're going to want virtual collaboration to be as close to the real thing as possible. I think the next iterations of video conferencing will incorporate AR and VR technology.

We'll see a breakout hit in consumer/entertainment VR by early 2022 - or virtual reality will drop off the radar. Any consumer entertainment model requires a combination of hardware and content. The hardware element is there. But that isn't enough. Virtual reality is at a very vulnerable time now. The success of entertainment technology is driven by content. A new device might be an obsession only for the hardcore hobbyist until a viral hit drives mainstream adoption. It's do-or-die; either that breakthrough comes in 2021, early 2022, or it'll be another 10 years before it gets visited again. VR needs its "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" or "Super Mario Odyssey". Otherwise, companies will lose patience and stop investing in the technology.

The way we function as a society has fundamentally changed due to COVID-19, including accelerating the capabilities and rapid adoption of certain emerging technologies into overdrive. As we continue to adapt to today's new environment, organizations and leaders will continue to look at new ways to ensure that everyone can stay productive and secure. Security and emerging technologies will play a huge role in that mission.


About the Author

Jesse Chor 

Jesse Chor is Head of Mobile Engineering at Splunk, where he created and leads the mobile engineering team. Since joining Splunk in February of 2018, Jesse has helped launch multiple Splunk products including Splunk Cloud Gateway, Splunk Mobile, Splunk TV and Splunk AR. In addition, Jesse is the founder of Splunk’s Co-op recruiting program and was commissioned with building out Splunk’s new Toronto engineering office, which opened in October 2019. Prior to Splunk, Jesse founded SPARQ, a company that linked technology to optimize the user experience across mobile devices and mobile apps. SPARQ was acquired by Yahoo in 2014. After the acquisition, Jesse worked at Yahoo as a Director of Software Development Engineering. During this time, Jesse was head of the emerging technology engineering teams, established the conversational assistance and search engineering teams and launched messaging bot initiatives on Kik, Slack, Alexa and Facebook Messenger. Jesse graduated with a BCS in Computer Science and Psychology from the University of Waterloo. 

Published Friday, January 15, 2021 7:45 AM by David Marshall
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