The Top Tech Trends of 2016
Looking back on 2016 it’s hard not to feel enthused about the development of tech and the ways in which it is fundamentally changing the ways we live. Not always without controversy, these trends have been gaining momentum throughout the year and look set to continue to shape the world into 2017 and beyond.
The Sharing Economy
The sharing economy has been bubbling surreptitiously under the surface for a few years now but in 2016 it exploded into every conceivable industry. Think accommodation, transport, labor, WiFi, and even food; if there is a way to share resources then there is a model for business.
As consumers began to freely embrace the sharing economy in order to both save and make money, the companies which facilitate these shared resources found themselves up against many legal barriers. The shift in the economic landscape has created many questions, debates, and challenges. Despite the continuation of these disputes, there has been an incessant rise in people embracing this new form of collaborative consumption.
The success of the sharing economy has only been possible due to the way in which technology can bring people together and enable the scale which these companies need in order to thrive.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
At the start of the year there were some tentative whispers about 2016 as the year for VR. Trepidation was understandable of course. The same noises were made about VR in the 1990s after VR pods gained and lost popularity within a short time period. However, this year those whispers grew gradually louder as the realization of tech advancement filled pioneers with confidence. Tech giants pledged billions into hardware and software development and with the commercial release of VR game platforms and the runaway success of mobile AR games companies could no longer afford to ignore the virtual revolution.
Games have been the first real success story but there are new reports every day of other real life applications of both VR and AR. Sports, health, military, real estate, retail, and education are just some of the industries who have so far embraced VR and AR. There is a realization that not only is there the capacity for growth but they may also potentially revolutionize aspects of their industries.
Self-driving car anyone? Yes, in case you missed it, we are now living in the era of automated automobiles. The cars which have previously made their debut for consumer purchase are semiautonomous but all-singing, all-dancing fully autonomous vehicles are currently being tested on the roads. A whole range of estimates have been provided by the experts on when fully functioning self-driving cars will be ready, with dates ranging from 2018 to 2040. While the tech might be just about here the regulatory approval might take a little longer so don’t trade in just yet.
Fully autonomous cars in combination with the rise of the sharing economy could have a substantial implication on car ownership as a whole, with future users likely to consider sharing an autonomous vehicle as a more economical and ecologically sound option than outright car ownership. Less cars on the road? Watch this space.
Wearable technology started out way back in the 13th century with the revolution that was eyeglasses. The evolution of wearables, and their uptake, has been remarkable throughout the years with the appeal of convenience an ever-effective factor. Tech wearables have seen steady growth in 2016. While smartwatches and smart clothing have been beguiling for new users, it is still fitness trackers that seem to have cemented their position in conventional daily use. With ever-evolving sophistication, fitness trackers have become more advanced in their capabilities and niches. From tracking perspiration to sun exposure, the abilities of sensors are far reaching.
Combined with AR, the possibilities of wearables are phenomenal. AR glasses have yet to become mainstream but with the likelihood of mass adoption looming we can expect a seamless bridging of the virtual and the real. Definitely one to watch over the next few years.