While 2016 may be remembered for its unexpected political outcomes, the technology news has also seen its fair share of publicity. A year that will be remembered for the forced ‘upgrade’ to Windows 10, the short-lived phenomenon that was Pokémon Go! and Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone, opting to sell no less than seventeen different dongles, has left 2017 as a year that must generate more positive headlines.
With a healthy dose of optimism, here are the top five 2017 technology predictions.
Data-Driven ‘Internet of Things’
Despite initial promise, the ‘Internet of Things’ has not had quite the impact many first envisaged in 2016. While there is a tangible sense that this is a technology that shows a lot of promise for businesses and consumers, the release of failing WIFI kettles and Amazon’s lacklustre Dash buttons have served to only dilute the benefits of a connected home tailored to individual requirements.
However, Gartner maintain that the ‘Internet of Things’ will continue to grow, with a predicted $1 trillion of savings for consumers and businesses while increasing data storage by as little as 3%. While the data will continue to grow, it will expire at an earlier date to ensure any information accessed is as up-to-date as possible, signalling far more robust data-driven outcomes for next year and beyond.
Key figure: 20-30 billion connected devices by 2020
Watch out for: More bad ideas, such as internet connected egg storage.
With all new technology there are teething issues that must be overcome on the road to success. For drones, the issue of safety remains at the forefront of any debate. Amazon maintain that drone delivery will soon become a reality, claiming that it will soon be ‘as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road’. This opens up huge possibilities for the future, with faster delivery of key items driven by increasing online shopping habits.
For 2017, drones look to mature as a technology, with a large range already publicly available. As drones become more efficient and advanced over time, the more useful they will become to businesses and the general public alike. The main point is investment – with big company backing, drones look to be the most hyped technology of the near future.
Key figure: Projected value of the drone industry by 2025: $90 billion.
Watch out for: Outlaw sausage deliveries.
With over 80,000 electric cars already on UK roads today, 2017 looks to only increase on this wallet-friendly method of travel. There are already new releases planned that seek to improve every aspect of travel and with Tesla releasing more affordable vehicles, electric cars look to be far more aspirational than their initial conceptions.
2017 will see Tesla owners having to pay to charge their electric cars having previously received this service for free. While this may come as a surprise for some, it does indicate a huge rise in demand. As charging points increase alongside electric car sales, 2017 will be seen as the turning point for when the industry turned mainstream.
Key figure: Electric vehicles to represent 35% of new car sales by 2040
Watch out for: Need for speed – Acceleration madness
Talk it out
For 2017 and beyond, voice control looks to evolve past providing novelty pre-programmed responses. With the Amazon Echo and Google Home technologies looking to revolutionise hands-free interaction, big names are looking to advance the core technology implementations of ‘voice browsing’ far beyond current capabilities to provide context sensitive assistance applicable to real-world situations in the home and on smartwatches.
For the UK, the delayed release of the Amazon Echo means that 2017 will be the first full year that this technology will be used in everyday household situations, a stern test that will either impress or annoy – only time will tell.
Key figure: 30% of web browsing will be screenless by 2020.
Watch out for: frustrated users shouting at their wrist.
Gaming has come a long way since the early days of virtual reality, now providing positively received, immersive experiences on affordable hardware. With more headsets from more companies set for 2017, soon virtual reality will reach far beyond the scope of home entertainment.
The global market size of virtual reality is predicted to more than double in 2017, with online shopping just one of the many predicted experiences set for the future. Soon, leaving the house will be unnecessary to experience window shopping or ski slopes, with headsets that become more realistic and convincing with every new iteration.
Key figure: 58 million users of virtual reality in 2017.
Watch out for: surging number of neck braces
With such a varied range of new and evolving technologies, 2017 looks to innovate where 2016 frustrated. While environmentally friendly cars will pave the way towards a more environmentally friendly methods of travel, it may be virtual reality that stops users leaving home at all. After all, why leave the house when you can order food using voice control and receive drone-delivered packages?