The year in preview: Technology

Sharon Fisher//January 2, 2019

The year in preview: Technology

Sharon Fisher//January 2, 2019

photo of trailmix samples
Samples at the Trailmix pitch competition during Boise Startup Week. Photo by Liz Patterson Harbauer.

Idaho’s technology community said it largely expects more of the same in 2019.

Some additional technologies may be added to the mix, said Jay Larsen, president and CEO of the Idaho Technology Council. For example, he said to improve security, people should expect to see identity and privacy protections based on blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

“Blockchain is a natural for this role because the whole point of it is to provide robust, incorruptible — yet encrypted — recordkeeping that anyone can easily verify,” he said. “Blockchain can also be used for shopping security, whether online or in person.”

photo of jay larsen
Jay Larsen

Other technology refinements include improvements to artificial intelligence (AI), Larsen said.

“If you want to make AI smarter, have it battle it out with another AI,” he said. “In this case, the arena is digital images: One AI attempts to create a realistic image, and another AI attempts to decide whether the image is real or artificial.”

Similarly, while we’ve gotten used to 3D printing with plastic, 2019 is likely to bring 3D printing in materials such as metal, Larsen said.

“We’ve always had printers and parts manufacturing, of course, but plastic 3D printing has been taken to the consumer and prosumer level,” he said. “Now, 3D metal printing is poised to be the next big wave in this industry.”

One of the big players is likely to be HP. “HP is planning its first offering, the Jet Fusion model, which it hopes will make a difference in the metal parts manufacturing sector,” he said. Other companies such as GE, which has been printing metal fuel nozzles for its Leap jet engines, and Nike, which has been printing metal cleats, will also get into the act, he said.

Finally, mobility through smartphone apps will continue to develop, Larsen said. “Over the past two decades, mobility has been a major part of the way we operate and conduct business and interact socially,” he said. “Mobility is a platform that will continue to grow, and we will see definition take place with new technologies like 5G,” the next generation of cellular technology, which is supposed to be faster than the existing 4G.

photo of tiam rastegar
Tiam Rastegar

In addition to technology, Idaho startups are expected to work together more to develop synergy, said Tiam Rastegar, executive director of Trailhead, the downtown Boise coworking space. “There will more engagement across and between the players in the ecosystem, much like what Albertsons and Lamb Weston did for Trailmix and Boise Startup Week,” he said. “The same applies to state and local government entities, nonprofits, investors and other stakeholders. 2019 will be the year where we collectively put all the pieces and assets into a functioning ecosystem in which entrepreneurship can thrive by receiving access to more streamlined and seamless support/resources.”

In terms of events, “Boise Startup Week will continue to grow in 2019 and remain the largest community organized event of its kind in Idaho,” Rastegar said.

In addition, the Idaho Tech Expo – scheduled for Feb. 20 – is relaunching under new ownership and leadership, he said. “It will help drive awareness and help promote a healthy and functional ecosystem.”

Access to capital will continue to be a major focus for the community. “In an effort to build on the current momentum and to bridge the gap in ‘access to capital’ for startups and our members, Trailhead is partnering with the Boise Angel Alliance (BAA) and the Boise State University Venture College to organize and host ‘Pitch Day,’ a monthly event aimed at increasing deal flow by giving startups and other capital-seeking entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch to a room of investors,” Rastegar said. “In the past, the BAA managed their deal flow behind closed doors and other investors and syndicates were not participating.”

The Idaho Technology Council is also expected to release its annual Deal Flow report tracking capital entering Idaho, which was last released in April 2018.

To help increase the number of potential qualified employees in the state, in 2018, the Idaho Legislature passed a law to require all Idaho high schools to offer a fundamental computer science class for their students, beginning in the fall.

“2019 will be an exciting time for technology in Idaho and several innovations will undoubtedly change the way we do business and live,” Larsen said. “We need to continue to forge new frontiers and find solid, profitable platforms.”