The 2019 holiday season has arrived. As we clean our homes and gather around tables, it’s important that we take a moment away from all the busyness and reflect on what we have to be thankful for. This year I found myself feeling very thankful. From a tangible perspective, I caught myself feeling thankful for the most uncommon items. Call me crazy, but technology blew my mind this year. From smart speakers, the iPhone 11, to Burger King’s Impossible Burger! 2019 was a booming year for everyone from tech nerds to vegans! Even if you aren’t a tech nerd or a veggie-loving vegan, here are some interesting discoveries and advances that took place in 2019 that may blow your mind and keep you feeling thankful.

Sanitation Without Sewers

If we’re going to start this list off right, what better place than toilets. In 2019 we saw an influx of energy-efficient latrines. Sorry to get into all this bathroom talk, but these toilets are treating sewage on the spot and creating a greener way of living for us all. The NEW generator toilet, designed at the University of South Florida this year, filters out pollutants with an anaerobic membrane which utilizes pores smaller than bacteria and viruses. These toilets aren’t being mass-produced just yet, but with 2.3 billion people around the world without clean sewage and powerful people like Bill Gates behind the prototypes, I’m sure we will see an increase in production in 2020. Who knew you’d be thankful for clean sewage this year, am I right? You may not want to share this advancement at the table or near your in-laws, but this could definitely be a solution to our pollution problem.

Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial Intelligence has been all the buzz for the last few years, but it continues to be a trend on the rise. AI as we call it, refers to computer systems built to mimic human intelligence and perform tasks such as recognition of images, speech or patterns and decision making. Whether Al is in your life or not, 5 out of 6 Americans use these systems on a day-to-day basis1https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/tech-trends/2019/executive-summary.html. If that seems wild, you’re not going to believe how many Echo products Amazon has sold since the launch of their first model in 2014. 100 million Alexa’s swarm our world with their mass intelligence and on point jokes. I think we can all agree that having access to Alexa and other digital girls like her (Siri) can be entertaining and convenient at times. I’m personally thankful for Siri getting me from place A to place B on a consistent basis. I can’t imagine getting my inner Marco Polo on and going back to compasses and map reading.

A New Planet 

Aliens? Are they real? Is the truth really out there? This year we got one step closer to finding out.  In September, scientists announced they’d detected water vapor on a potentially habitable planet for the first time. The planet, named K2-18b, is a super-Earth that orbits a red dwarf star 110 light-years away. K2-18b is the only known planet outside our solar system with water, an atmosphere and a temperature range that could support liquid water on its surface. That makes it our “best candidate for habitability,” one researcher said. I find it fascinating that we can learn about planets outside of our solar system, let alone 100 light-years away.

Blockchains and Foodchains

2019 Blockchains are making the world a little less wasteful. Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies have allowed those involved in the food supply chain to closely monitor and track the journey of food from seed to plate2https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/tech-trends/2019/executive-summary.html. As scientists track how food moves through the food chain and where wastage occurs, growers are making more informed decisions around what quantities should be planted, and distributors are looking where there are likely to be shortages and surpluses. Smarter buying = smarter living for all of us.

Pet Grooming

I was shocked when I came across an electric dog nail trimmer under one of the most sold products in 2019. Google Trends couldn’t believe the rise in this product. Why was a dog nail trimmer crushing the market? I did research and some are giving the credit to Instagram. The company blew up their page by hiring on brand ambassadors and investing in ads. Whether the Insta ads are the reason for this product’s glory or there was a high demand for short puppy nails, the company is predicted to make $3.25 billion by 2025. I guess we can be grateful for products that are helping people and their pets. The electric nail file has some great and, let’s just say interesting reviews! 

Save The Turtles

“Sea Turtle With Straw Up Nostril.” Have you seen this video? I remember watching this video for the first time earlier this year. I couldn’t even get through the whole video without tears pouring down my cheeks. This was one of many ocean pollution videos that went viral in 2019. Companies like Starbucks, SeaWorld, Royal Caribbean, Disney and American Airlines decided to take action after getting a bad reputation for the use of plastic straws. Starbucks created straw-less lids, Stainless steel straw sales sky-rocketed and the state of California even took a stand by implementing a new law banning all non-biodegradable straws. I hope these bans continue to create a difference on our shores moving into 2020. I’m proud to say I live in a country that isn’t simply sitting idly by and working towards sustainable and humane solutions.

Micro-Mobility

Notice a pattern? Most advancements that occurred in 2019 are eco-focused. This one isn’t much different. Micro-mobility hit many large cities in 2010, and has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry over the last 9 years. Companies like Lime, Bird, Jump Bikes and Lyft Scooters bring modes of transportation to cities in the form of electric scooters, small bikes and even electric skateboards. In October BIRD raised $275 million in new funding and Lime had a 73% sales spike from May to July. As sales slow down during the winter months, these companies are remaining confident. Both companies plan to bring tens of thousands of scooters to new cities this year. Here’s hoping Fargo is on the list.

Last but not least, HAPPY THANKSGIVING from all of us at Absolute. We are thankful for your time and service in the F/M community. We look forward to sharing our in-office updates and advancements with you as we go into 2020. Let’s make this new year the best one yet! Enjoy your holidays everyone!