As the year comes to a close we’re reflecting on the biggest developments across the tech world during 2015 and anticipating future tech developments in 2016 and beyond. So much has happened this year. Wearable tech continued to grow, thanks in part to the release of the Apple Watch, Tesla Motor’s autopilot feature was rolled out and smart technology in the home has started to become the norm. But what now?
Here are a just a few of the exciting technologies we are looking forward to getting our hands on in the near future.
Imagine being able access the internet by simply standing underneath a street light or switching your desk lamp on. Li-Fi is a game-changing wireless technology that uses light emitted from LED light bulbs to transfer data. This new way of getting online has many advantages over Wi-Fi, not least because it helps solve the issue of space. Wi-Fi uses radio waves to send and receive data. The problem is that with so many devices using the radio spectrum these days – mobile phones, TV, radios – the radio spectrum is quickly running out of space. The light spectrum on the other hand is much larger, giving us loads more room to play with.
Li-Fi is also more secure than Wi-Fi. Unlike radio waves, light doesn’t travel through walls meaning that your home network would be safer from outside attacks. Stopping a data transfer is as easy as switching off the lamp or covering the receiver with a hand.
Li-Fi is still in development but is expected to be with us within the next 3 years.
Forget to charge your phone over night? No problem. A sensor chip has been created that enables devices to be charged in just a couple of minutes. Developed by Professor Rachid Yazami, the chip sits inside the battery and regulates the amount of energy being fed to it when being charged, not only charging the device more quickly but making it safer by preventing fires. We can expect to see this in our phones in 2016.
VR is old news but new applications for VR are being developed every day. The tech has been slowly gaining momentum since the 80s and sped up significantly when the Oculus Rift arrived on the scene back in 2012. Since then many big names have developed their own VR headsets – Sony, HTC and Razer to name just a few – and in 2016 they will all hit the consumer market and we’ll finally find out if VR can be as big as the hype.
Most current applications for VR are found in the gaming industry, but there is plenty for non-gamers to do in the virtual world. YouTube 360 video support was released earlier this year and this is set to grow as more people purchase headsets and require new content. Shopping experiences like Retale VR give users an alternative way to shop online, allowing shoppers to interact with items before buying from the comfort of their home. The medical world is also using VR for therapy such a PTSD and phobias and even training medical students.
Similar to VR, AR has been in development for a few decades now and was expected to take off when Google Glass released their beta model in 2013. Despite having some undeniably impressive features, due to its hefty price tag and over hyping Google Glass was a flop. Thankfully the AR dream isn’t dead yet. Two of the biggest players in AR right now, Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap, are set to change everything.
Microsoft has been teasing tech fans with live demos of their Hololens headset for months. At LA gaming convention E3 earlier this year they blew everyone away with a Minecraft demo, and later on they showed how Hololens can be integrated with 3D design software Autodesk Maya to create interactive team projects.
Magic Leap on the other hand has been ultra-secretive. Even so, they’ve managed to raise over $1bn in funding. Judging by the videos on their YouTube channel it’s not hard to see why so many – including Google – are eager to invest.