Only a few months into 2018 there has been an exponential rise in popularity, adoption and subsequent mainstream success for hot technology trends like virtual reality (VR), blockchain and big data. However, the discussion surrounding these hot tech trends tends to be very conceptual and not focused on actual innovations and businesses in the respective sectors. 

Here are some of the specific trends that I have been keeping track of that you may be interested in following as well, focusing on VR, private messaging and the modeling industries. The applications may inspire you as to how you can incorporate blockchain or other advancements in your own business, or entice you to look into these particular industries that are being changed hopefully for the better.

1. Virtual Reality has come a long way in a couple years and is looking for a breakthrough moment.

Virtual reality as a technology has come a long way since the release of the original Oculus Rift VR headset on March 28, 2016. It's a sector which is now very competitive, and yet valuable enough to sustain multiple ecosystems and product solutions. In a smart move, most devices are now greatly cross-compatible with regard to software, which is great because content is the key to a successful new media hardware platform.

That content is now becoming made more readily available, including through a compilation of exemplary mini-games from legendary software house Valve (Steam marketplace, DOTA 2, Portal 2) called "The Lab," which was introduced in April 2016. Since Valve is one of the co-creators of the HTC Vive VR headset, it comes as little surprise that the game appears to have been a huge success. More recent games such as Robo Recall from Epic Games (Unreal Engine, Gears of War, Fortnite), released in March 2017, have shown off just how far interactive content has come.

And then there's, Terra Virtua, which uses a proprietary Ethereum backed cryptocurrency (Terra Virtua Token or "TVT") to fuel its blockchain based platform and ecosystem. It promises to provide a groundbreaking marketplace system that delivers far greater rewards than the current industry to content creators while offering what it describes as "Netflix for VR" subscriptions to consumers. It is the type of advancement that may be needed for greater VR adoption and is the type of disruption you may want to consider for your own business.

2. Secure and encrypted messaging struggles with true privacy, which presents opportunity.

Switching gears, the social media industry is bigger than ever, and the popularity of encrypted mobile communications apps such as Telegram suggests that they are trending toward the same (if not more) success.

However, there are issues with data privacy and sharing on social media platforms and mobile apps, as well as rising concerns about the so-called encrypted services.

Advanced encryption of private and group messaging is currently and will continue to be desired by those who care about keeping their communications truly private. You and/or your business may even be concerned about the privacy of your business communications and be seeking products that solve your concerns in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which has put many businesspeople on edge.

One company building a product in the space is called Ravn, which has a beta version in distribution. Options like that, which provide for general chat-related offerings such as photo sharing, video and digital wallets while better ensuring privacy are particularly desired today. Again, this could provide a new business opportunity for you in a growth market or new technologies to incorporate in your existing business.

3. Modeling industry contracts can be streamlined and be incorporated to a greater extent in entertainment, sports and beyond.

Contracts in the sports, entertainment and even modeling industries are ripe for disruption with decentralization and use of the blockchain. Smart contracts for verification and enforcement can be helpful for carrying out the terms of the transaction and possibly even to preclude many civil lawsuits over what are often ambiguities in the deal terms.

One company looking to be a key player in the space is CRYSTALS, which will not only act as a blockchain-based intermediary, but also seeks to combat the use of models in sex trafficking through immutable and standardized storage of records and data tracking. Modeling may just be the start and the tech could soon be used by others in the entertainment and sports industries if it is proven to be a quick success in streamlining deals, reducing unnecessary litigation and curbing otherwise illegal acts.