As the curtain closes on a year in which the Apple Watch was released, contactless payments became mainstream and Google searches on mobile overtook desktop, attention now turns to the coming year and the technology trends that will define 2016. Across a wide number of technologies, 2016 could be the breakthrough year where inventions excitably talked about by the media and the industry become placed into the hands of the mass market. Here are the potential top trends for 2016.
The Emergence of VR
Oculus Rift, who has been spearheading the drive towards releasing VR for the masses, recently announced that pre-orders will soon be available for a Q1 release of their new headsheet. This much mooted technology will finally be available to the public, and it is expected to see huge demand, particularly from the gaming industry. Although the first release of headsets flopped, it is felt now that the virtual reality headsets are technologically advanced enough to be a must-have product in the next 12 months. Offerings from HTC and Playstation will add competition in this marketplace.
Meanwhile, augmented reality is also moving a step closer. Leading firm Magic Leap, the mysterious firm backed by Google and Alibaba, is looking to raise a staggering $827m in funding following the last successful round of $542m. The only release from this company? This mysterious video.
AI Focus Begins to Reap Rewards
Currently, many of the tech giants are working hard to develop artificial intelligence. 2015 saw more development of "very large and sophisticated "deep learning" neural networks" that learn by feeding on large amounts of data, which are now being mined effectively by these large organisations. Artificial Intelligence is now moving from the theory to practical applications,.
However, ethical questions surround these leaps forward in the technology. The tension between these moral and technological considerations will be crucial to the extent to which AI becomes ingrained in our lives through technology products in the coming years.
Mobile Led Design For All Retailers
2016 is likely to become the year that the majority of companies finally start to design websites and products with a mobile-first focus. Whilst many new companies are already developing in this way, many incumbent retailers and large stores are still using mobile adaptations of websites. The need to build from the bottom up quality mobile applications and website experiences will be a key theme in 2016, as mobile searches have now overtaken desktop searches.
Product Delivery Continues to Rapidly Change
Some of the largest e-retailers in the world are now turning their attention to improving the experience of the delivery of products for consumers. 2015 continued to show the trend in 'click and collect' becoming a dominant force in this area, helping to hand power back to the consumers to decide their delivery. But the most exciting development in the technology sphere is Amazon Prime Air. Although originally dismissed as a marketing gimmick, drone delivery is now tantalisingly close to reality. Following more safety testing and regulatory approval, drone delivery could lead to packages arriving to homes in under 30 minutes in cities. Tests in the UK are likely, as the regulatory boards are more open to this radical new method.
Streaming Services Become Dominant Producers of Content
Next year should see streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video take the next leap to become substantial content producers. Whilst Netflix (and to some extent Amazon) have already achieved success in this area with the likes of 'House of Cards', 2016 will see a ramping up of this production. Netflix have 10 feature films, 30 kids shows and 12 documentaries in the pipe line, and Amazon have set the ambitious goal of winning an Oscar. Both of these trends should benefit consumers of these platforms, and make them more indispensible as they become even more part of the entertainment culture. However, for pay TV services, 2016 could be the beginning of the end.
2016 is lining up to be an exciting year, particularly for consumer technology as products move closer to mass market. The tension between technology and legislation will continue to be crucial to the importance of these trends over the next 12 months.