If you’re anything like me, you’re burnt out by all the hullabaloo surrounding AI lately. It just happens to be one of those trending tech topics everyone and their mother wants to talk about these days (case in point: ChatGPT). Truth be told, a lot of this fuss is justified, especially when you consider the incredible developments we’ve seen in the field of AI, to the extent where a lot of things that were once considered impossible have become a reality.

That being said, it is also important to note that such developments are not limited to AI alone and exist in other areas as well. So here’s a look at four examples of technological innovation that aren’t in the field of AI or its sub-categories.

1. Edge computing 

In traditional computing, data is transmitted to a centralized data center so it can be processed and sent back to the user.

The problem?

This process isn’t instant. As geographical distances are involved, it takes time for the data to travel to and from the center. Sure, it’s usually a few tenths or hundredths of a second at most, but when we’re talking about time-sensitive data, every second counts (or in this case, every fraction of a second).

The solution?

Over the last few years, edge computing has emerged as one of the best ways to ensure low latency and instant data processing.

Edge computing involves decentralizing and moving storage and compute resources to the network edge, physically closer to the source of the data. This can help resolve issues relating to high latency and network congestion, enabling instant processing of time-sensitive data. What’s more, the remaining data that isn’t required to be processed instantly can be sent to the central server, reducing bandwidth usage.

2. Quantum computing   

Unlike classical computing, quantum computing uses a unit of data called a qubit (quantum bit). What’s interesting about qubits is, they can exist in a state of superposition where they’re both one and zero simultaneously. They can also enter a state of entanglement with other qubits, creating a relationship where they can interact with each other instantaneously regardless of distance. It’s these qualities that give quantum computing an edge over classical computing methods.

The goal of quantum computing isn’t to solve existing, relatively simple problems faster; rather, it’s about having the ability to solve highly complex multivariable problems at all.

Where a classical computer only has the capacity to perform one complex calculation at a time, quantum computers can perform several complex calculations simultaneously to arrive at a range of possible answers. This may not sound all that impressive, but whittling down a large number of possibilities to a much smaller range of potential “correct” answers is in itself an incredible achievement.

However, this form of computing is very expensive to operate and doesn’t make sense for simple tasks that can be easily solved by classical computers, meaning it will not replace classical computing, at least not in its current state.

3. Datafication 

Datafication is exactly what the name implies: converting the unquantifiable aspects of business or even our daily lives into readable data that can be analyzed and tracked.

Let’s take a look at social media, a perfect example of datafication done right. An individual’s activity on social media can paint a pretty accurate picture of their character and interests. This data is used to recommend content or can be used to build a profile for targeted ads. 

Furthermore, datafication is also used in the banking sector to help check credit scores and can even be used by companies for their human resource management.

But remember, as beneficial as it is, datafication is a process and is only as effective as the techniques used to datafy information.

4. Extended reality

Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term encompassing all kinds of immersive technology, such virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and even those that are yet to be created. 

However, there’s more to XR than it being just a term. Companies like Qualcomm predict that XR headsets that can switch between VR and AR modes could enter the market in the future.

XR could emerge as one of the biggest disruptive technologies in the field of computing and transform how businesses approach their customer services and their R&D, and how we consume entertainment.

Again, I’ll admit, AI is the most exciting branch of technology. It’s basically sci-fi without the “fi” at this point. So it makes total sense why everyone’s talking about it. But at the same time, let’s also keep an eye out for other technologies, because AI isn’t a one-stop solution to every business problem (at least not right now) and there’s a ton of potential in not just the technologies mentioned here but many more that aren’t AI-related.