Top digital tech trends to expect in 2017
The technology industry in Australia is in for a huge 2017, and we’ve predicted the eight top trends that could change your life.
It’s hard to believe that a year ago, a phenomenon like Pokémon Go mightn’t have seemed possible.
Or that many of us would have affordable VR experiences in our lounge rooms.
What about the Tesla electric vehicle that, with a simple software update, could suddenly drive autonomously?
The world is always changing, and it can be tough to keep up with the rapid evolution occurring in the technology space.
As greater connectivity allows more great thinkers to successfully start-up a company around their idea and to take it global, the race to the next big thing is no longer a marathon; it’s a series of rapid 100m sprints.
So what can we look forward to in our fast broadband-powered futures?
What trends will the world’s technology giants follow? Here are a few developments you should definitely keep your eye on.
If 2016 was all about virtual reality, then 2017 could be the year augmented reality takes its next big step.
Games like Pokémon Go have shown how a rudimentary form of the technology can capture mainstream attention, but it was just the start.
An updated version of Google Glass is incoming, possibly involving the incredible Magic Leap technology, and Microsoft will reveal more on HoloLens, too.
Both of devices use connected screens to overlay information on our existing world, from email alerts to recipes and directions to learning tools.
There’s even anticipation of augmented reality displays appearing in the windscreens of vehicles as well, with real-time information on issues like traffic congestion and road speeds.
With so much of our day-to-day lives now connected to the Internet, new forms of Cybersecurity will be a hot topic in 2017.
Fingerprint access has already become the norm on mobiles, but it’s quite possible that eye scanning and voice recognition will eventually become far more prevalent.
It’s not just phones and computers online anymore; everything from your car to your baby monitor and even your fridge can be a connected device.
As a result, Patrick Morley, CEO of Cybersecurity experts Carbon Black, believes a big trend in 2017 will be protection measures put in place not in the cloud, but on the individual devices.
Smarter smart homes
The concept of the smart home is well established, but the reality for most Australians is that it’s still on its way.
Rather than work in unison with each other to establish a true internet of things, major companies have worked to different standards and formats, making it hard for consumers to enjoy the sophisticated one touch, one device operation and maintenance of everything they desire.
Expect that to start changing in 2017. Not only can we hopefully look forward to a more unified use of wi-fi as the standard to connect devices (rather than Bluetooth), but we’ll also see further improvements in personal assistants – like Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana.
Coming at you live
In 2016 we started to see the emergence of live video streaming as a means for people to connect with friends and the world, but 2017 could be be the year that really goes to the next level.
Building on the likes of Facebook Live and YouTube Live will be Snapchat, with more channels to follow.
We should even start seeing a range of devices built to maximise live video streaming.
Taking and posting a simple photo will quickly become “so 2016.”
Get it on-demand
Following the rise of Uber and Netflix in 2016, it will be 2017 that truly becomes the year of an “on demand” lifestyle.
Expect an increase in apps and companies that allow you to grant speedy gratification for your needs, whether it be transport, entertainment, food, love or shopping.
The latter will be shaken up by the arrival of Amazon into Australia in the middle of the year.
Amazon is well on the way to making drone delivery part of its service, to improve its on-demand shopping options.
Speaking of drones, it’s an industry that has been steadily rising over recent years and is set to explode in 2017 as variations in the technology push it into more mainstream territory.
For example, the Hover Camera Passport is a drone that autonomously flies behind you, taking your selfies for you.
We’re also starting to see pocket-sized drones and those with 4K resolution cameras.
On a more practical level, there’s a growing use of drones to deliver things like emergency medical supplies where they are needed, too.
Drones still tend to have fairly limited battery lives, but an increase in consumer demand could lead to more research dollars being spent on solving this limitation.
3D printers becoming affordable
For years we’ve been waiting for 3D printers to become affordable to the point that families can more easily invest and have fun with this amazing technology, and 2017 is set be the year.
Having halved in price through 2016, in 2017 some models are expected to crack that $100 barrier, giving them the edge they need might to become mainstream.
As a result, you might expect more birthday presents in the form of homemade crafts through the year.
We’ve left this one to last, because it’s not only a trend in itself, but it’s intimately linked to everything else we’re seeing occur in the technology world.
Machine learning is the process in which an AI is built in such a way that it can make changes to its own program, effectively “teaching” itself, based on experimentation and elimination.
That may sound scary – especially if you’re familiar with the Terminator franchise – but the programs themselves are not actually intelligent, nor do they have a will of their own; they simply record useful information for later use and application.
These forms of AI take in big data and then adjust in real-time accordingly.
So if there is a change in information – such as an increase in congestion on a road at a certain time of day – the AI would potentially be able to understand, evaluate and predict that trend in future.
With big companies like Google already deep into machine learning, in 2017 we could even start to hear the term used as a selling point in more everyday consumer electronics, although perhaps with a more friendly face along the lines of “smart AI” or “personalised algorithm”.
You should also expect to see even more new connected devices hit the market in 2017. In fact, did you know that the number of connected devices in the average Australian household is set to almost triple by 2020?