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Augmented reality

 

So 2016 is upon us so what exciting tech stuff do we have to look forward to?
1. IT Wearables for business –

Did you add an Apple Watch or a FitBit to your life in 2015?  Which of these do you think was the most successful product of the year?  Well, contrary to predictions, the Apple Watch was lagging behind FitbBit in terms of market share.

The majority of wearables were seen as accessories for fitness enthusiasts, not as essential devices for mainstream consumers.  Not only that but some early developments in the wearables market had limited capability, not to mention questionable accuracy. That led people to question their value and give up on them after only a few weeks of use.

So where is the ‘wearables’ market going in 2016?  Perhaps their best opportunity lies in the business world. Could they, for instance, replace building security cards with a more secure, biometric form of authentication?  Can you imagine them becoming the means to log into your work devices, secure websites, etc. thereby eliminating the need for resetting passwords and possibly increasing security?

Some U.S. businesses are already starting conversations with health-care organisations to collectively track the activity level and health of their employees in order to offer better insurance rates.  Big Brother implications or huge benefit?
Soon, wearable devices may be able to connect directly to the Internet, without needing to tether to a third-party mobile device. This will help set the stage for embeddable wearables, such as Chaotic Moon’s biometric tattoo, or tech tats, which attach to the skin much like a temporary tattoo.

2. Foldable displays –

One exciting development going on right now is the effort to create foldable or bendable displays and it looks like 2016 will be the year when we start to see the first examples available.  Imagine the possibilities for a moment… a tablet that turns into a smartphone, or vice versa? Tantalising possibilities!

The first versions of foldable displays will likely only be able to fold outward because it’s apparently easier to stretch the materials at the fold than it is to squeeze them together, as you would need to do for an inward-folding display.

3. Self-charging phones –

New technologies are enabling phones to charge through wavelengths. Ossia Inc. and Japanese telecom company KDDI Corp have a product called Cota, that will automatically recharge mobile phones at a distance, similar to how WiFi transmitters deliver data from routers to devices.

This follows existing technologies that take advantage of smartphones’ wireless charging standard, known as Qi. The company Qi Wireless, for example, produces pads that charge phones when placed on them.  Ikea recently began selling tables that wirelessly charge phones when the mobile device is placed on the table top.

Other companies, such as Israeli startup StoreDot, are looking to introduce instant charging and longer-lasting batteries. The company is pledging to introduce a battery next year that would charge a smartphone in 60 seconds or less.

4.  Drone technology –

The technology is being tested by many companies including Google and Amazon. Currently there is no permission from Governments to use this technology commercially, especially in built up areas. But clearly for deliveries – whether it is products from Amazon to fertilising crops will the commercial use of drones take a step forward in 2016?

5. Virtual and augmented reality –

Juniper Research predicts that 2016 will be a “watershed year for Virtual Reality”.  We will see the launch of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, the first consumer-level virtual-reality headset that doesn’t require a smartphone.  HTC Corp. and Valve’s Vive VR headset will also hit the market, after the launch was postponed in December when developers experienced a “very, very big technological breakthrough” that made the initial version obsolete.

In addition to the new hardware, 2016 will also see an increased focus on VR content in gaming and entertainment, as well as the development of consumer-level 360-degree cameras for amateur virtual-reality shooting from the likes of GoPro Inc.

Meanwhile, augmented reality may push its way into the workplace.  We could be seeing real-world applications for augmented-reality headsets, such as enhancing a person’s task on the job by interposing digital images like a map or instructions on top of objects in their surrounding environment.

On the other hand, anyone old enough to remember the TV series Tomorrow’s World knows that not everything predicted comes true. But whatever happens it’s sure to be another exciting year in tech!