8 tech startup trends to watch in 2017

Artificial intelligence startups will be big next year, along with startups in cybersecurity, chatbots, VR and legalized recreational marijuana, according to experts.

By James A. Martin
Dec. 1, 2016

But VR won't simply be a technology for entertainment. "In 2017, VR is going to be adopted by a lot more startups to collaborate with in-office employees and remote or gig workers," predicts Zach Holmquist, CEO and cofounder of Teem, a cloud-based service for managing workspaces. "VR will be used to accommodate the evolving definition of 'employee' to include both in-office and gig workers contributing remotely. The gig economy will continue to grow, forcing companies to use all available resources to accommodate this emerging category of employee, and VR technology is going to help them meet that goal."

6. Marijuana startups

After the fall 2016 presidential election, California, Massachusetts and Nevada joined the growing ranks of states that have legalized recreational marijuana. A total of 26 states and the District of Columbia now have laws that permit recreational or medical marijuana use. Consequently, startups focused on marijuana are expected to proliferate in 2017, leading to "innovation on the technology side of the cannabis industry," according to Chris Walsh, editorial director of Marijuana Business Daily, as quoted in the Daily Democrat in Denver.

7. Innovative wearables

The breakout hit Spectacles from Snap, the company behind Snapchat, which let people record and share up to 10 seconds of video, are "breathing new life" into the wearables category, according to Gregory Kennedy, cofounder and president of Uncharted Minds, an organization that hosts events and conferences. "It appears that Snap's fun, quirky and inexpensive approach has the winning combination of features and pricing that all the other players missed in the first wave of wearables."  

8. Intelligent things

"Intelligent things" are at the intersection of AI and IoT and are among Gartner's top 10 strategic trends for 2017. The internet of intelligent things goes "beyond the execution of rigid programing models," exploiting AI and machine learning "to deliver advanced behaviors and interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people," Gartner says. "As intelligent things, such as drones, autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, permeate the environment, Gartner anticipates a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a collaborative intelligent things model."

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