The year 2015 was the year it was all supposed to happen in tech. That is, of course, if the Back to the Future II movie was anything to go by. Who can deny the wonderment we felt at a future filled with flying cars, self-lacing trainers, and hover boards after watching this iconic movie. Back then, though, the future seemed so far away.
Well, we finally made it to the future and, to be frank, it looks nothing like what was depicted in the movie. That doesn’t mean we haven’t made any technological progress, though. In fact, the last decade has seen more revolutionary advances in technology than we could ever have anticipated.
What’s more is that these tech innovations show no sign of diminishing. We didn’t get instant cook pizza this year, but there were plenty of cool, life-changing gadgets and gizmos to whet our appetites. Next year, 2016, promises even more life-changing technologies. Here are a few to note.
An interesting trend, which began a couple of years ago, is the rise in demand of smart devices. The smarter device the easier it will make our lives, or so the philosophy seems to go. Smartphones lead the way in terms of smart technology, but a growing number of peripheral products are coming to market to make the phone even smarter.
Fed up of using your plain old “dumb” bag? Perhaps it’s time to replace it with a new smart bag. Or maybe you feel that your wardrobe is lagging behind the rest of your upgraded smart-life? Time to invest in some smart clothing then. Yes, everything from your home to your head can be given the smart tech treatment.
And, in 2016 we can all expect our gadgets to get even smarter. The amount of smart-tech projects listed on sites like Kickstarter gives a good indication of things to come. But it is also notable that major manufacturers such as Apple, Phillips, and Sony have been focusing heavily on this area.
In line with the influx of smart gadgets is the drive to connect everything to, well, everything. It is being called the “era of device mesh”, and it essentially means the ability to access apps and information via all manner of devices no matter where you are.
Mike Crooks, Head of Innovation at Mubaloo Innovation Lab, says, The device mesh is the trend of moving to the interconnected ideal of the Internet of Things. The coming year will see greater availability and wider spread usage of connected devices.
3D printing technology has been on the peripheral of the mainstream for several years now. However, an increase in 3D printable materials coupled with lowering cost of equipment means this technology is all set to take the world by storm. Several important industries are destined to benefit from this technology including automotive, medical, and energy, but the food industry is where the most interesting things are happening.
For 3D printing technology, one of the biggest trends will be food creation. Machines such as the Chefjet can already print sugar and chocolate while Natural Machines’ Foodini is able to print pizza and pasta. Major research into bio-printing will yield more food inks and allow even greater scope for the type of edible foods that can be printed.
Technical Expert at the IEEE, Dr. Kevin Curran, says, the Holy Grail is to bring food to life from nothing. Mouthwatering indeed.
Computer games have long provided a means of escape from reality. Up until now, that escape has been fairly limiting. Gamers had to contend themselves with observing the goings on of a game via a television screen. Now, though, manufacturers are hoping to make the whole activity a lot more immersive.
Almost every major player in the electronics industry seem to be focusing on providing immersive environments; Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all have skin in what is a growing $150 billion industry. This year saw a few product release such as HoloLens and Oculus, but these, while quite impressive, haven’t quite hit the mark.
Next year we are likely to see vast improvements, though. In terms of augmented reality devices things like hyper-location technologies will help deliver a fuller ambient user experience; learning a user’s habit, emotional state, and interests and leading to minimal user input and greater functionality.
As for virtual reality, game designers are beginning to create games specifically for this purpose. Games such as Alien: Isolation and Eve: Valkyrie, are billed as the games to truly make VR desirable.
Lighthouses for people are being installed in airports, shopping malls, and even offices. No, this is not a way to help you better navigate in the dark, it is a way to have a better shopping experience in the physical world. It is Bluetooth 4.2 beacons and they are set to become an important feature in our lives in 2016.
This technology aims to be the link between the city you live in and the internet of things. Think hands-free payments, airport notifications, indoor mapping, and receiving vouchers via text as you pass a particular store.
All of this adds up to 2016 being an exciting time in tech. So what if we don’t yet get to own a hoverboard, just one less thing to fall off of right? Besides, we are all probably too old to care about that now. The real future of technology is much better.