It’s said that life moves pretty fast, and in the world of tech gadgets and gear, apps and programs, cloud computing and massive online networks that’s certainly true. Innovation in the industry is an absolute constant as we increasingly give over our daily existence to things designed to make our lives easier, more seamless, more fun and more productive.
So what does 2016 hold in store for technological advances? Here are five things to be on the lookout for, some already evolving realites and others looming on the edge of true science fiction.
All Together Now
It may be hard for laymen to wrap their head around the concept of the “device mesh,” but in fact many of us are already unwillingly employing the concept. The mesh refers to an ever-increasing set of “endpoints” that people use to access applications and interact with each other in social communities, at work and in business. Mobile devices, wearable tech, smart homes and automobiles, GPS sensors galore—these are all part of the network and back-end systems. And in 2016 expect an expansion of the mesh, where all things are connected and coordinate with each other in a state of constant interaction.
Living in 3D
Stunning advances in 3D printing are already a reality as a seemingly endless array of products are being crafted from a range of materials from metal to carbon fiber, glass and even human tissue. But whereas the industry has so far focused on experimentation and, in many cases, frivolous and fun creations, more practical uses are in store next year. Demand for the technology is amping up in the aerospace, medical, automotive and energy sectors as well as for military applications. Tech experts predict there will be a 65 percent rise in demand for industrial 3D printing machines, and that demand will drive prices to the point where the devices will soon be within reach of the private citizen and general populace.
Rise of the Machines
Fans of the Terminator movies might be somewhat leery about a concept known as Advanced Machine Learning. Tech engineers across the globe have been crafting deep neural nets that move well beyond the concept of traditional computing and into the realm of systems that can autonomously learn quasi-human perception. In practical terms, imagine a machine that gathers huge amounts of information from complex data sets and interprets that information to make logical decisions. Economics, industry-specific trends, environmental management, smart home computing, personal tech networking—the applications are endless once machines acquire the ability to think and adapt to our evolving world, which is more likely than ever a possibility in the coming year.
Autonomy of Things
Robots, self-driving cars, virtual personal assistants and advisors—all these and more are already a reality, and we can expect them to play a greater role in our daily lives. However, advancement in physical smart machines is also leading to rise in software-based smart machines: anyone who uses Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana or Apple’s Siri are already utilizing this technology of autonomous “agents,” and in 2016 these resources will improve greatly and feed more and more into the user experience. Indeed, some tech experts are predicting that augmentation of human activity through the use of autonomous agents will soon evolve to a point where they’re the main interface utilized rather than the current interactions with menus, forms and buttons.
Ghosts in the Machine
Of course, with all this innovation in intelligent machines, autonomous assistants and interconnected mobility, the unfortunate downside will be a drastic increase in the “glitches” that naturally occur when technology moves forward as such an astounding rate. Indeed, 2016 is being predicted to be the year of the glitches as new gadgets and programs are rushed to market and come online before thorough testing is completed. Mass airline groundings, stock exchange stoppages, television service interruptions, power grid outages—these will continue to occur on a regular basis and will no doubt increase in frequency. And the same goes for our personal devices, wearable tech etc. as the race to get products to market takes precedent over quality control.