With 2016 behind us, it’s time to look forward and embrace the new, positive things 2017 will bring. Technology is constantly evolving and changing the way we see, think and react to the world. 2017 will be no exception, considering the tech trends that emerged in 2016 and will continue to develop in the new year.
Some of the trends we can expect to change the world in 2017 include:
Internet of Things (IoT)
While it’s true that we’ve been hearing about IoT for a while, 2017 will be the year when it will finally catches on. The IoT is supposed to connect all our devices and have them working in harmony, as opposed to the concept of a “smart hub,” which has been more popular until now.
There are a myriad of wireless technologies to serve your smart home needs — Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and more. There are also more smart home platforms to consider than ever before, including Wink, SmartThings and Iris by Lowe’s, as well as systems from security providers like ADT and Comcast. In theory, this should have resolved the issue of connecting all of your gadgets, but the reality is that it’s made it worse.
Some smart home gadgets aren’t compatible and won’t work with certain smart home platforms, rendering these systems useless. On top of that, if your smart hub goes down, your entire system usually goes with it.
For this reason, instead of a centralised hub, manufacturers are now focused on creating devices that can operate independently. Essentially, the hub will no longer be necessary.
Automation and AI
Automation has also been on the radar for quite a while, raising questions about the change of paradigms and the future of work in all sectors.
So, what’s new? Automated or online customer service is already a common feature and it is only due to grow in importance – with improvements in AI and chatbots that understand context better. More and more jobs will become automated and even our smart devices will change, as they learn personal patterns and preferences without us needing to tell them and become better able to make suggestions and recommendations.
With the increase in the world’s population in the last decades (currently growing at the rate of 75 million annually) and the overstretching of natural resources and climatic changes, the question of how to feed all these people is keeping scientists awake at night.
Soylent is a well-known example of synthetic food that gained momentum in 2016 but has a major problem: it’s not very appetising. Companies like Beyond Meat (who produce a meatless bleeding hamburger patty that tastes like beef) and Impossible Foods (also producing a plant-based burger) are gathering good reviews.
Others are developing food systems that’ll allow for eggs, meat and other food products to be produced in labs rather than on a farm. This, along with a growing demand for cruelty-free products, will start changing the way we eat and what we eat, before the end of this year.
Blurring Line Between Physical and Digital Worlds
Despite the fact that walking around with a VR helmet isn’t practical or welcomed in the real world (as can be seen by the downfall of Google Glass), it doesn’t mean that virtual reality isn’t going anywhere, it’s just happening differently.
Anyone with a phone can use VR technology by using navigation services or even what is now known as “augmented reality” (remember Pokemon Go?), where virtual objects are displayed on top of the physical world. All you need is a smart phone and a good internet connection. As the dependency to our mobile devices increases and mobile apps replace traditional services, the use of augmented reality technology is only due to increase.
3D printing is another technology that’s been around for a while but will become more accessible as prices drop (due to happen this year). A reasonable quality 3D printer can now be found for around $300, half the cost of the previous year. These prices should dip even further as other affordable new models enter the market, such as the 101 Hero, which is retailing for $99. As more of these become available, it’s a safe bet that Santa will be leaving a few of these under Christmas trees around the world.
These are only a few of the tech trends we anticipate changing the world in 2017. We’ll check back in a year’s time to see if we were right!