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  • Writer's pictureDean Anthony Gratton

The Hottest Consumer Tech Predictions of 2016

Did I blink too quickly or was CES2016 over in a flash?

In some respects, the event lacked the wow factor of previous years, although there were some emerging technologies that did catch my attention. In particular, Virtual Reality (VR) which has suitably matured to become an increasingly convincing proposition for gaming and broadcasting alike.

Social VR – the New Buzzword for 2016

Oculus Rift has been the focus of a number of new developments in both the gaming and interactive broadcasting sectors and at CES2016 HTC were keen to jump onto the VR bandwagon with their impressively slick Vive headset that plans to give Oculus a run for its money.

"When we first announced Vive ten months ago we had an ambitious goal of fundamentally changing the way people communicate and interact with the world – forever," commented Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO of HTC. "Since then Vive has received a phenomenally positive reception from media, industry commentators, consumers, and the hundreds of partners and brands we’ve been working with to deliver inspiring and dynamic VR content. For too long, the promise of virtual reality has been little more than a promise. Today we stand on the precipice of a new era. Vive is creating a world where the only limit is human imagination."

While both the Oculus and HTC headsets have some way to go in terms of design to make them truly ‘wearable’ in everyday situations, I like the potential the technology has to blur the lines between reality and Social VR: a buzzword to listen out for over the coming year I hasten to add. Before too long I predict we’ll all be virtually ‘stepping into’ conversations with friends in virtual worlds that will be truly immersive. And, with Apple currently investing heavily into researching new forms of VR technology, I likewise predict that the way we interact with others, seek out news and, in fact, choose to broadcast it to others will move into the Social VR sphere before the end of 2016.

Bringing Android Apps to Windows 10

While I’m a true blue Windows fan, I am continually disappointed by the lack of Microsoft Store apps and the slow growth of its developer update for that matter, so I was thrilled to discover the all new and improved Remix OS from Jide. The company that first created an Android-powered Microsoft Surface clone is back at it with the release of its Android Lollipop-powered operating system image that enables any PC (although touchscreen is best for obvious reasons) to experience Android’s rich ecosystem, along with its vast array of apps.

What I love about Remix’s remix of the OS (if you’ll excuse the pun) is the fact that it allows Android apps to run in resizable and collapsible Windows, making the OS fantastic for both productivity and multitasking. Trying out Jide’s latest offering on my Surface Pro 4 was, I have to admit, a bit like being a kid in a sweet shop again – only this time I got to taste all my favourites for free!

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Automation

CES was full of the usual droids and entertaining but overall time-wasting gadgets that touted some kind of intelligence, but ultimately technology’s every growing immersion within businesses, method and entities has extended the opportunity of what indeed can be intelligently automated through rapid advances in AI. Investors too are taking notice, with investments in artificial intelligence start-ups by venture capitalists increasing by around 20x in the last four years according to Accenture Research who claim: “Intelligent automation will bring different skills, scale, speed and reducing complexity. That will change what’s possible for all of us, allowing us to not just do things differently but also to do different things. This isn’t the dehumanized future of science fiction but rather a love story between people and machines.” 

But hang on! Let’s not get too Barbara Cartland about this! I agree that there has been an exciting shift in terms of investments in AI but the touted love story as yet remains nothing more than a shy kiss between the venture capitalists and the developers.

Modular Displays

More of a concept than an actual deliverable product as yet, the uses for Samsung’s modular display technology nevertheless provide an interesting proposition for a number of display-oriented industries including, of course, home cinema, where giant screens could be easily broken down for affordable shipping.

The jaw-dropping ‘wow’ factor of such mammoth screen collaboration for signage or even the occasional wild party is indisputably cool. It isn’t perfect however and some screen-seams were clearly visible from my viewing angle – something that Samsung seriously need to address, but the concept provides an interesting and exciting insight into what might well be the future of big screen viewing.

The Future of Driving Just Got Affordable

The problem with electric cars has always been two-fold in my opinion: Firstly, you couldn’t go very far in them without plugging them back in and, secondly, they just cost too much! But all that’s set to change with the launch of the Chevy Bolt, showcased rather marvellously at this year’s CES on a circuit track that demonstrated its potential to the max.

I predict it will be the most significant electric car since the original Tesla Roadster, coming in after the $7,500 US tax credit at an astounding $30,000. This is impressively cheap, especially considering its classy hatchback looks and multi-media extras, which include a 10.2-inch touchscreen. It’s also surprisingly fun and responsive to drive, leaving me with the distinct impression that Chevy have got it spot on with their latest offering. What’s more, I predict the launch of the Bolt to be just the beginning of a new range of affordable electric vehicle options we’ll see appearing on forecourts throughout 2016.

Until Next Time …

My hopes for a Dry January have become seriously deluged with large quantities of red – I was surrounded so what else could I do? It’s been a funny old start to the New Year with the industry seemingly on a roller coaster of manic highs and Prozac-seeking lows – it just seems like the whole industry is at a disruptive peak. Damn, I need that bottle!

So, this is where an uncorked Dr. G signs off.

Originally published in Technically Speaking.


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a technology influencer, analyst & futurist 

I dispel the rumours, gossip and hype surrounding new technology

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