Technology is no longer restricted to going online with a mobile device, shopping on e-commerce sites, or playing graphics-intensive games on a smartphone. Tech trends have rapidly advanced in recent years to deliver an entirely different experience to the end user.
It won't be long before artificial intelligence becomes a part of our daily lives thanks to NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) GPUs, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) may make drones a common sight in our skies, and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)-powered autonomous cars help us get to our destinations safely. Therefore, it wouldn't be surprising to see these three tech names playing an integral role for both consumers and investors in the long run. Let's see how.
Amazon is trying to revolutionize traditional markets
Starting out as a bookseller, Amazon has taken many turns to get to its $457 billion market cap. It is now the biggest player in the cloud computing space with Amazon Web Services (AWS), controlling a large part of the internet infrastructure in the background while its video and music streaming services cater to the consumer on the front-end.
But Amazon's evolution is still ongoing, and it's still looking to revolutionize traditional markets with technology. To cite one example, the e-commerce giant's Amazon Go concept store allows customers to pick up groceries and simply walk out of the store -- no checkout lines involved. Customers will just need to scan their smartphones when entering the store, then Amazon's technology will automatically detect which items have been picked up from the shelves to build a virtual cart. The customer's Amazon account will be charged when they leave the store, making the grocery shopping experience a breeze.
Amazon is now in a position to bring this concept mainstream with its acquisition of organic foods retailer Whole Foods Market. The company had reportedly planned to open 2,000 physical grocery stores in the U.S. over the next decade, so Whole Foods' existing count of over 456 stores will accelerate its move into this area.
But Amazon Go isn't the only grocery concept that the company is working on. It is also testing the Amazon Fresh concept at pilot locations, where customers can either pick up groceries or get them delivered at home for a monthly fee and a minimum shipping threshold. Online grocery sales in the U.S. are expected to grow to 20% of the market by 2020, so Amazon is making a smart move by combining both online and offline retail channels to connect with more consumers and expand its market.
Amazon is also trying to accelerate delivery times by testing drone technology. The company has already filed a patent to build "beehives" to house its drones in urban high-rises, which will be used as pads for the drones to land and take off from. These beehives will be present inside major cities, as opposed to the fulfillment centers, which are built outside major urban areas to expedite delivery times.
Amazon has always been ahead of the tech curve. It is possible that in the future consumers order groceries on the Amazon app, which are then delivered to their doorsteps by drone.
Intel is going all out after autonomous cars
Autonomous vehicle technology has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and cars can now drive on their own to a large extent. Of course, human supervision and intervention are still needed -- the technology needs a lot of fine-tuning and regulatory hurdles still exist -- but Intel is going all out to release a fully autonomous car.
Chipzilla has brought together an impressive alliance consisting of BMW, Fiat Chrysler, and Delphi Automotive to make autonomous driving systems using its own (and recently purchased visual specialist Mobileye's) technology. More specifically, Intel plans to deploy a fleet of 100 self-driving cars with Level 4 autonomy for testing across Europe, Israel, and the U.S.
Level 4 autonomy indicates that a car has attained a high level of automation, requiring human intervention only in certain cases when there are no specialized maps available to guide the car. The alliance hopes to start selling its self-driving platform to automakers such as General Motors and Volvo in the next couple of years. Additionally, Intel's alliance could be gearing up to attack the lucrative ride-sharing market, which could hit $285 billion in revenue by 2030.
So it might not be long before we see an Intel-powered autonomous car ferrying people to their destinations, provided the alliance's technology development works out as expected.
NVIDIA: AI could be a big catalyst
None of the above-mentioned technology trends will come to fruition without artificial intelligence (AI). For instance, Amazon will be using AI to see which items have been picked up in its grocery stores, while self-driving cars need to quickly understand road conditions using AI and deep learning.
Not surprisingly, NVIDIA has been aggressively pursuing the AI opportunity. It was one of the first movers in the autonomous vehicle race, developing an AI-based self-driving car platform a couple of years back. This has allowed NVIDIA to rack up an impressive list of partners who are either using or willing to use its self-driving platform to power their cars, this has doubled its automotive revenue in the past two years.
But NVIDIA's AI technology isn't restricted to just self-driving cars. The chipmaker is deploying its graphics processing units (GPUs) in data centers that will be overloaded with data generated from several sources such as mobile devices, Internet of Things applications, and autonomous cars, among others.
In fact, Cisco forecasts that data traffic from mobile devices alone will grow seven-fold by 2021, and the number of devices connecting to the Internet will jump from an estimated 17 billion last year to 75 billion in 2025 according to IHS. The huge amount of data generated by such devices will have to be analyzed in real-time to enable quick decision making.
For instance, an autonomous car needs to have quick reaction times to drive. This is where NVIDIA's Tesla GPU accelerators come into play; they can deliver a five-fold boost in a datacenter's computing power in a cost-effective manner. Additionally, the company is developing a modular, hyperscale GPU accelerator along with Microsoft that can be deployed in a variety of use cases ranging from healthcare to voice recognition.
NVIDIA could become the keystone of several emerging tech trends that rely on the power of AI. This could open up a huge market for the chipmaker and boost revenue, as spending on AI systems could hit $46 billion in 2020 from an estimates $12.5 billion this year.