Predicting the future is about seeing patterns amid chaos. frog, a global design and strategy firm, has continued its efforts in predicting the future with the release of its latest forecasts for 2017. The firm has a good track record as they predicted VR/AR, AI, and the blockchain would boom this year.

Many of the tech trends prevalent in 2016, such as VR, AI, autonomous driving will continue to resonate in 2017, coupled with other emerging trends. Here is the top-15 tech trends the company expects for the new year.

Autonomous Vehicles with Superhero Performance 


More than 90% of car accidents are caused by human errors, but will AI-enabled autonomous vehicles perform better than human? frog creative director Matt Conway believes we are not far from the day when autonomous vehicles can significantly lower casualty from car accidents.

“In the instant before an accident, an AV should maneuver in dramatic and utterly non-human ways in order to preserve life,” Conway says. “A dramatic emergency evasive maneuver might seem reckless if it was taken by a human, but under the control of an appropriately trained AI—informed by clusters of real-time sensors—such a maneuver might be as reasonable and life-preserving as any taken by a professional bodyguard.

Precision Medicine and Big Data Will Drive Intimate Health Results


The wide application of big data technology has already brought fundamental changes to our lives in the ways we work and entertain. frog strategy director Allison Green-Schoop thinks there’s more this technology can do in medical area.

Precision medicine is a new form of health care that is based on data, algorithms, and precision molecular tools. Allison believes doctors will be able to give tailor-made medical suggestions to patients by digging into their social, environmental and economic contexts, rather than judging only from the symptoms.

Our Spaces Become Participants 


The combination of low-cost sensors and machine learning will enable all kinds of spaces, living rooms, shopping malls, and hospital bays, to be more interactive. Based on the massive data collected by the sensors, machine learning will be used to identify usage patterns and recommend the reconfiguration of a space to drive new behaviors in healthcare, retail, research, manufacturing, work, and residential spaces.

Chad Lundberg & Jud Holliday use an example of customizing hospital rooms for patients.

“Hospitals will shift room layouts, update signage, and adapt lighting and sound to optimize individual patient experiences,” they say. “These will be tailored to patients’ current stress levels, severity and type of conditions, schedules, as well as personal lifestyle and fitness data. Spaces will no longer simply house and support your activities – they will participate.”

Next Year’s Best New Artist


Machines are not only replacing human labor, they are also playing a bigger role in creative jobs. frog strategists Zach Marley and Graeme Asher point out that AI has already marked several milestones in music, video gaming, and fiction writing sectors.

“These imitative algorithms we find writing pop songs, short films, and generating first-person shooter levels will evolve to process broad and diverse inputs – cross-pollinating rhythms, language, and imagery from deep and unlikely corners of our physical and virtual worlds. This is our new creative frontier,” they write

Synthetic Foods and Cellular Agriculture goes Mainstream


Designer Andreas Markdalen detects two distinct changes in our grocery stores: one is plant-based proteins are gaining popularity as an animal meat replacement. The second is tissue extracted from live animals is reengineered to grow food like meat, eggs, and dairy in laboratory environments.

Markdalen predicts that more plant-based artificial meat replacements will hit the shelves of our local grocery store in the coming year.


Business Bots Will ThriveIn the wake of the rising AI fever, frog strategist Toshi Mogi believes AI technologies are going to have wider applications in business use in the coming year. He cites the example of a vintage electric skateboard startup as an example. Robots are used in every link from design, production to marketing, making everything more efficient.

“As intelligent systems and automation further develop to serve the purpose of critical business functions, it is time for a more formalized classification schema for automated businesses,” Mogi writes.

Tricking the Brain to do the Impossible


Virtual reality therapies (VRT) have already been used for distracting the brain from its current context.  frog strategist Kyle Wolf points out that the technology is now also to creating multi-sensory environments that trick it into driving biological outcomes beyond the reach of medication.

“Initially, we will see VRT addressing the psychological—treating phobias, addictions, and other mental conditions—but soon we will see it enabling physiological outcomes and aiding in practices such as Neurorehabilitation,” Wolf says.

Farming the Sea is the Ultimate “Blue Ocean” Strategy


Since life itself arose from the oceans, frog’s Patrick Kalaher believes oceans should be our only sustainable source for resources.

“Farming of kelp and bivalves, and open water cultivation of fish will enable us to generate vast amounts of food without using arable land, water, or pesticides. Because farming in the sea isn’t constrained to the surface, it can extend down to the bottom of the ocean, effectively being three-dimensional,” Kalaher says. “On the production side, new tools and techniques for growing and harvesting are being brought online; on the demand side, new value chains and supply chains are evolving, bringing this kind of seafood to more and more tables as the taste for them is developed over time.”

Interfaces In Our Ears


For decades, human computer interaction has taken a Graphical User Interfaces approach. Creative director Christine Todorovich thinks it’s time for embracing a new interface type that extend beyond the visual. Auto industry is among the first areas where this AUI- the Auto User Interface is applied for it enriches experiences while driving.

“The combination of screen fatigue and technology embedded in everything from cars to homes, is exposing a need for new types of interfaces that extend beyond the visual,” Todorovich says.


Drones As The Great Equalizer

Application of drones in logistics industry has long been the public focus as more companies like Amazon pioneering their works in the initiative. As this technology is becoming more affordable, government, big enterprises and individual citizens alike are joining this trend.

In addition to commercial uses, frog designer Lilian Tse believes that drones will play a bigger role in humanitarian works thanks to their flexibility, citing the efforts in Rwanda as evidence.

“Rwanda is building the world’s first drone airport to provide medicine that can be quickly flown to those who need it. Rather than wait months for roads to be built, drones can quickly provide critical support to people living outside of urban areas,” Tse writes.

Tse added that several other verticals are also going to benefit from the technology, such as road builders, especially Chinese companies, medical companies, and airports.

Scalable Automatic Data Processing Is The New Last Mile


In a world that’s exploding with data, the real problem for us is how to make sense of this huge amount of information in a usable and automatic way.

“The art and science of Scalable Automatic Data Processing is nearing prime time, and monitoring weather, predicting traffic patterns, counting fish in the ocean, or listening to forests to determine their health will be used by organizations of all kinds, not just large tech firms like Google and Microsoft,” writes Patrick Kalaher.

Buildings Work Smarter, Not Harder


While the internet-of-things trend is leading the way to a smarter city, the infrastructure surrounding us is going to integrate more technologies with the efforts from large cooperate companies like MGM Resorts, Wynn, and Tesla.

frog strategist Agnes Pyrchla predicted that this trend could be a massive opportunity for cities, as well as industries like hospitality that depend on large energy-intensive buildings. 



The VR boom is a main theme for the world’s tech scene in 2016 and the trend is not stopping. Piet Aukeman & Sonny King predict that the VR craze is going beyond the tech-savvy geeks to grab a larger group of mainstream audience.

“Live entertainment venues and performers will be increasingly displaced by low cost/high engagement entertainment options that people can access from the comfort of their home,” they say. “Content creators will be able to deliver low-cost, high-quality experiences that are traded on an open, social market. For those consumers that lack the VR hardware, the community can provide “VR Stations” in malls, transportation terminals, and open spaces.”


The Rise of Soft Robotics

As robots enter our daily lives, people need them to change from the traditional hard and cold to something easier to interact with. We have already seen softened robots in various industries from automobile to medicine, Mark Freudenberg points out.

“The soft robotics revolution will be gradual but vast. As robots and robotics become increasingly pliable, they will fold into our everyday lives in interesting and vital ways,” Freudenberg says.


Learning from Machine Learning

By training machine learning networks, people can interact and learn indirectly from the algorithms in other ways, according to Rebecca Blum, citing Gooble’s AlphaGo.

Although Lee Sedol’s defeat raised concerns that machine will doom human race, the designer believes we also evolving through embracing new ways of learning from machines as well. “Learning from machine learning could have an immediate impact on the way we think about education and training, fostering a symbiotic approach to human-machine learning,” Blum says.

 Image Credits: frog design

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.