Five Innovations that will change technology in the future

Read on, then decide: will these five innovations feature in your future?

Published on 6th September 2017

Predicting the future take-up of existing technology is one sure-fire route to ridicule.

Blogs like this one might be happened upon in a thousand years’ time. Driverless cars? To those teleporting citizens they’ll be the stuff of museums.

We, however, are reading this in the good old-fashioned ‘now’: an era that’s just about managed self-lacing trainers, but still no proper hoverboards.

Even so, some pretty radical advances are emerging. So here are five consumer-tech innovations to look out for. And, for a bit of fun, a trio of old-school counterparts either back from the dead or stubbornly hanging around.

Ready? OK, let’s get see if we can get this blog up to 88 miles-per-hour.

VR entertainment

Virtual Reality’s applications are numerous, offering advances in areas as diverse as architecture and marketing, psychology and healthcare.

But it’s only recently that VR has begun imposing itself on the consumer market – most visibly in the world of gaming. And that’s pulling VR kit into the home.

Well this was fun! #vr #ps4 #virtualreality

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The usual roll-call of huge players – the likes of Disney, Facebook and Microsoft – (as well as smaller trailblazers) are devoting serious R&D resources to VR. So it’s not too bold to suggest we’ll be seeing it more and more across the leisure sector: think cinema and TV, sports events and pop concerts as well as museums and theatre productions. Gives added substance to the celebrated pantomime call-out “He’s behind you!”

Will it happen? It is. And it’ll continue advancing.

Driverless cars

Perhaps the most discussed out-there innovation of the moment. When chat of ‘autonomous vehicles’ (it sounds kinder) began emanating from the government, and not just the pens of science-fiction screenwriters, the notion quickly gained credence.

Studying, again, where the big players’ (Fiat, Tesla, Volvo, Apple, Google) R&D cash is being spent, is a blunt-but-reliable guide to where this tech journey is heading. Couple those investments with well-documented trials (and errors) and it seems this advance is hot to trot.

As an aside, with new petrol and diesel vehicles halting by 2040 (big news that just kind of presented itself, like a cricket result, one morning in August) – driverless or not, the electric car is also zooming towards us (albeit currently between charging stops).

It’s tempting, also, to predict the emergence of a successful Sinclair C5-type vehicle. Something low-cost, energy-efficient and designed for one person. Others argue it exists already, of course, and is called a bicycle.

Will it happen? Sure. But don’t expect it any time soon.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) sounds like a slacker phrase. It’s the internet of, like, stuff, dude.

But the Things component does do a good job of gathering the growing list of the world’s internet-connected devices – they now outnumber people – entering the market.

Very broadly, IoT is the catch-all term for the surge in these items and their applications. For real-life examples think Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri or Alexa: Amazon’s voice-recognising personal assistant. She’ll order you a takeaway, play you a tune and turn your heating on. More? How about smart meters? Or those TV recording boxes your always-one-step-ahead friend controls, from miles away, with a smart watch (itself another IoT gadget).

[Интересное] Apple может гордиться Siri. Apple Inc. наряду с Comcast, Universal Electronics (UEI) и Nuance Dragon TV стала одной из IT-компаний, удостоенных в этом году 69-й премии «Эмми». Члены жюри американской национальной телевизионной академии, высоко оценив удобство и функциональность голосового ассистента Siri на Apple TV, присудили Apple награду за достижения в области «контекстуальной голосовой навигации и взаимодействия с ТВ-контентом». Голосовой ассистент Siri, дебютировавший в 2011 году, пришел на Apple TV только с релизом четвертой версии. Фирменная разработка Apple повысила удобство пользователей при взаимодействии с большинством функций телевизионной приставки. Siri позволяет осуществлять поиск по фильмам, распознавая даже косвенные запросы, умеет останавливать воспроизведение, перематывать по команде «Что он(а) только что сказал(а)?» и многое другое. Добиться таких высот на этом поприще Apple удалось во многом благодаря искусственному интеллекту, занимающемуся обучением Siri. Одним из основных достижений лабораторного разума в Купертино считают голос ассистента, который продолжает совершенствоваться с каждым обновлением ПО. По словам представителей компании, они больше не используют людей для записи слов и выражений, делегировав эти обязанности компьютеру. #apple_4g #apple #siri #купитьайфон #купитьiphone #купитьipad #купитьiwatch

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Beyond wrist-based taping of Coronation Street, though, the Internet of Things is aiming high. Forget smart watches. IoT is building entire smart cities.

With clever use of capturable data – in areas like energy, water and transport usage – savings are made and the quality of residents’ lives improved. Already, in cities including Amsterdam and Barcelona, efficiencies are transforming urban concerns like irrigation, street lighting, e-services and even the routes emergency vehicles should be taking.

IoT, then, looks like an increasingly natural step forward for the internet. So it’s one advance, dear blog-reader of the future, we’re insisting is a nailed-on certainty to grow bigger.

Will it happen? Yes. In fact it already is.

3D printing

Using a computer and layers of material to create a three-dimensional object – 3D printing -has arrived. The kit is on the high street. The internet is enthused. People’s aunts have kind of heard of it.

The big question, though: will it catch fire with consumers?

It’s difficult to envisage. It just seems a bit too… industrial… a leap to really take a universal hold. Perhaps what might occur instead is a market for 3D printing services.

Applications? Sure, you can make ornaments and action figures. But imagine a pricey household gadget that’s missing an essential component: a cog, or a little nub of plastic that’s snapped off or worn out. Rather than dancing with manufacturers who’d rather sell you a new whatever, could we instead witness consumers – busted tech or tools or toys in hand – queuing round the block at Jim’s 3D Printing Service Shop?

As our throwaway culture is increasingly self-scrutinised, perhaps this kind of business would attract newer, greener generations.

Even putting eco credentials to one side, 3D printing might become one of those innovations that’s ideal for the distress-purchase market. It might also repurpose the role of tech-attuned, gadget-gobbling friends. You know the guy you take your broken laptop to right now? That guy might soon be morphing into your 3D-printer guy.

Will it happen? Yes. But just not for the average household.

Drone delivery

Here, we’re getting closer to how the future was supposed to be. Because the future isn’t the future without something being airborne that usually isn’t.

In our case, that something was two Domino’s pizzas. And they were delivered by drone, in November 2016, to an address is Whangaparaoa, New Zealand.

The pizzas in question? Peri-Peri Chicken, and Chicken and Cranberry. It’s not known if the irony of a largely flightless bird’s involvement in this historic event was noted. Nor is it known if the drone forgot the little tubs of dipping sauce.

Drone delivery has been on the radar – literally if you work for any air traffic control agency – for a good few years now. Amazon is probably the company most synonymous with the idea, and tentative trials have flown out under its Prime Air system. But will drone delivery ever become an everyday reality?

Amazon and pals may have a solution, but at first glance it’s tricky to see it working in crowded urban settings (where it would be most useful). Perhaps it’s typical British cynicism: but won’t somebody just steal your box set? And the drone it flew in on too? Less flippantly, there are serious regulatory hurdles to do with privacy and, of course, safety in the sky.

One truth though: online shopping is only heading in one direction. If drone deliveries – excuse the unintended pun – fail to take off, perhaps secure urban storage spots, like, in fact, Amazon’s own Locker service, might rise instead.

Will it happen? It’s difficult to see this idea soaring above the practical barriers.

Back from the past

Tired after all that tech talk? Relax into retro. Here’s three olde-worlde hangers-on.

Vinyl records

Back with a bang – and a satisfying crackle. This is more than just a hipster hobby. Evidence? It’s arguably easier to buy a budget record deck than a budget CD player right now. Just ask the under-25s snapping up original and reissue LPs (the latter at Tesco of all places).

Even cassettes – vinyl’s old sparring partners – are popping up now and again, although mainly as promotional devices/collectors’ fare.

Old-school video games

A combination of nostalgia and playability is keeping Mario, Sonic and Pac-Man front and centre. Proof? Nintendo literally can’t make its repo consoles fast enough.


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And just take a look at YouTube. An hour or so of instruction will show you how to turn the Raspberry Pi – a bare-bones computer, nobly created to teach computer science – into a bursting-at-the-seams retro games machine for under £50.

VHS (and Betamax)

There will never be a mainstream resurgence of the now-huge-looking tapes that once lined megastore walls. But a healthy collecting community – particularly in the ‘video nasty’ genre – keeps at least a modest number of titles, and a mountain of plastic, from the landfill graveyard.

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