We are slaves to cyber hive. We humans love our tech, perhaps even a little too much. The Matrix itself is starting to feel the strain of our unquenchable thirst. Since the days of the invention of the wheel, our species has been dependent on ever more complicated and sophisticated levels of technology. Throughout the years, especially those of the twentieth century, technology has exploded into our lives and changed our civilization in a far greater way than any era prior to it. A person from today would probably appear to be a sorcerer to our ancestors in the Middle Ages. Flash a smart phone before their eyes and they would doubtlessly think it was the tool of a witch or a device of Satan! Just imagine what a human even a century ago could be capable of!
Computers are everywhere, from our TVs and desktops and even now in our pockets and on our wrists. There is a principle known as Moore’s Law, which dictates that computer power will double every two years. So far, Moore’s Law has shown no sign of letting up in any way, and it appears that it’ll continue into the foreseeable future. Yet supply remains often many steps behind demand for the public’s consumption. Every one of us yearns for faster internet, greater battery power, enhanced memory and processing power for computers, phones and other devices… 4K will never stay as the leading standard of visual innovation and with this in mind, at the beginning of a new year, let’s examine the tech rumors and upcoming details and hints of what the ravenous tech hordes will have in store for them in 2016.
10. Virtual Reality
While not exactly new, virtual reality has been lingering on the fringes for more than 20 years, yet has never quite been feasible as a medium. But 2016 may be the year virtual and augmented reality see their maturation into a reliable and sought after consumer ‘reality.’ A theory in cosmology asserts that our universe could be an illusion or hologram, so the prospect of virtual and augmented reality could perhaps solidify and kick-start the idea of existence of being a dream within a dream! HTC Corp. initially meant to release a headset in December 2015, yet but stalled because of a “a very, very big” development eclipsing their prior piece of tech. GoPro has also spearheaded a range of 360 degree cameras for personal virtual reality shooting. At the helm of this innovation, as always, is Microsoft. Their headsets bring augmented reality into the workplace, streaming maps and images with the intention of improving tasks at work and in business. Little more than two centuries ago, humans didn’t even had glasses to correct our vision. Today’s world presents us with the tantalizing prospect of sight being increased with the prospect of a universe of our own making.
9. Self-Driving Automobiles
Automobiles are an engine propelling our lives and the society around us. Going from strength to strength as a heavy influence throughout the 20th century, with greater engine power, a variety of luxuries, starting with radios to iPod docks, through power steering, electric windows and heated seats. Even immobilizers and keyless entries and starts have ensured the entry to cars are more streamlined than ever before. GPS has also bestowed the average motor with an Atlas to steer people across the globe. The latest advances though have been in the sector of self-drive functions. Cruise control has been a luxury for some time, so have parking sensors, adding intelligence to bolster drivers against the perils of the road. This is the area of driving that is really getting into the fast lane lately. Advanced Driver Assistance (ADAS) is paving the way for smoother journeys by adding lane-departure warnings, automatic breaking and more sophisticated cruise control as co-pilot. Auto-drive functions are also an exciting prospect, yet permitting computers to do all the driving is still a ways off. So there is a way to go before the road rage can be blamed on robots!
Most of us are like Eve when it comes to Apple and their raft of high end, beautiful tech that the company dangles serpentine before us. Every year the company produces a fresh crop of improvements to software and products to keep the elitist computer cultists satisfied and waiting with bated breath for more in equal measure. This year refuses to disappoint as a plethora of new tweaks and additions to the Apple family are being announced. A new iPad Air, iPad Mini, Apple Watch, Mac Mini and Apple TV streaming are coming our way this year. Barclays Bank in the UK is announcing its implementation of Apple Pay, as well as rumors of Mac Pro updates, yet there is nothing as of yet on iMac and MacBook Pro updates. What is most surprising however, is the mentions of a potential Apple iCar. That’s right, Apple is about to hit the road, launching an electric car that will place it in the midst of a race with other manufacturers like Tesla. We may see a day yet where everywhere a person goes and everything they do will necessitate a bite from the cyber Apple!
7. Artificial Intelligence
It’s been a touchy subject and a bone of contention for sometime, as well as the backbone of many a dystopian sci-fi movie and novel, yet could 2016 herald the conception of true Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Computers that think for themselves, or at least have an inkling as to what you’re thinking could be on their way. We already enjoy predictive text and Google, which try to figure what we wish to locate online. Yet is AI something to be welcomed? Or should we view it as a sinister and perhaps dangerous bedfellow of sentience that shacks up with us in our palms? Last year, an AI bot quoted that it would place humanity in a “people zoo!” Yet many would argue we are willing captives to our digital despotic devices already!
6. 5D Data
One of the largest bugbears of the modern computer age is data and how to store it. For centuries, vast warehouses have been clogged from floor to ceiling with our most basic and reliable hard drives: paper (or vellum). Yet paper (and dead animal skin) is finite, and so is disk space. This is always offset against our yearning for ever more cyber room. We have been familiar with 3D that gives a holographic depth to images. We’re a tad less familiar with 4D, which immerses the audience entirely within the visions before them. Now 5D is opening the door to a potentially gargantuan hangar with plenty of elbow room to cope with the 10,000,000 Blu-Ray discs worth of information we create daily! The UK’s University of Southampton fashioned a technique known as femtosecond laser writing (a femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second! It takes longer to spell the word or even think it than it actually lasts!) Using a process of small glass discs using lasers and pulses of light, a single 5 micrometer (0.005mm) disc can store 360 terrabytes of data for nearly 14 billion years, which is roughly the age of the universe! These minuscule mammoths of memory are being hailed as being the future of logging the entire history and information of our species and the impressive storage capacity can only be matched by its hardiness. The little glass circle can withstand temperatures of 1,000ºC. Handy for when you have escaped to Venus and want to kick back with some Netflix!
Credit cards have already paved the route for paying for goods and services with the simple motion of a card’s swipe. Apple Pay has fell from the tree into consumer’s laps too. But will any of this end our enduring love affair with cold, hard folding cash? The almighty dollar has a gravitational lure, a siren’s song of solvency that we all dance to, although we love our convenience too and contactless pay and virtual currency exemplify the ease of moving money around. Since PayPal’s inception, simplicity in transactions has expanded into virtual currencies online, BitCoin being the most widespread and popular of such forms of currency. NFC payments are also developing Android versions of Apple Pay to enhance the various ease of payments. Write a check any smartphone can cash!
4. Quantum Computing
We are used to getting more and more efficient computers and computing technology with each passing year. Upgrades are becoming the cell regenerating the cyber dimension, undergoing change, adaptation, essentially evolution in their surge forward for greater proficiency to cater to our voracious appetites. For some years now, developers have been pushing the boundaries of quantum computing. It’s a level of technology would make our level of computing look like Windows 95, at least! What is quantum computing? It mimics the theory in quantum physics known as a ‘Superstate.’ Quantum Superstates dictate that a subatomic particle can not only exist in its current state, but all possible states at the same time. With our current binary system in computing, information is processed via the 0 and 1 being read separately. In quantum computing, all parts of that code can be read and handled at the same time. This means the handling and delivery of data will be delivered to us exponentially faster than what we’re used to.
3. Interactive Online Shopping
Apps pretty much enhance our lives and snare the vast amount of our attention from day to day nowadays. Twin this with the modern boom in internet shopping, Apps that permit buying at a touch and a swipe. Predictions say that this trend will extend its feelers out into our stores as we shop too. A raft of conveniences for trade and customers alike may drift onto shore this year. Such as Apps from stores acting as a virtual Personal Shopper in your palm and GPS functions could also come into play here too. Allowing store’s Apps to pinpoint one’s local store and tailor that store for their shopping needs in a way. Offering tailored promotions and such.
2. Foldable Screens
Devices such as Lenovo’s bendy and aptly named Yoga laptop/tablet was a forerunner for this innovation. Samsung dabbled a tad with its S6 Edge model. Plus, curved TV screens have been available for several years now. It seems pliable and bendable screens may be on their way pretty soon. One boon for this development will no doubt be greater durability, less chance of a screen cracking or snapping as it literally bends to it’s owner’s will! Additionally the added benefit of reducing and increasing size of a device may become an exciting development. People are ever more relying on viewing with their devices, so a screen that grows as needed will make a welcome extra to most tech loving souls out there.
1. Completely Connected Homes
Once upon a time computers were chunky, sluggish machines. Not too long ago, a generation ago really, the internet was a thing to be more endured than enjoyed. The harping wails of dial up connections and the ‘speed’ offered by 56K modems are pains anyone 30 and over will easily recall with dread! However, technology has spared consumers the ignominy of such agonizing online lag (mostly) and internet awaits, a mere swipe away. It has integrated into our televisions, meaning Netflix (and chill…) can happen in any room in the house! As computer chips become ever cheaper, this ability to live in an e-house is growing more realized. Imagine a refrigerator that orders food on consumption and need algorithms? Ovens where recipes and cooking techniques can be downloaded? This may become a reality. There was a time in the not too distant past when the notion of, say, Skype, would have been unthinkable to the average layman. The day may soon come where property becomes a meta-brain accustomed to it’s owner’s needs.