The Year Ahead in Tech
It’s a new year, in case that fact had somehow had passed you by, and the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) has drawn to a close. What better time, then, to consider some of the tech trends and events that we think will feature highly in 2015.
Wearables started appearing with a vengeance in 2014, with Samsung especially showcasing various watches and a whole operating system appearing, designed for wearables, in Android Wear. Plus there are a plethora of fitness bands and activity trackers out there.
But one key player is missing: Apple. Although the Apple Watch has been announced, it won’t be available until the Spring in the US and maybe later elsewhere in the world. So what impact will it have?
On paper it’s likely to flop: chances are it will be expensive. You’ll need a newish iPhone to use it properly. It doesn’t offer a killer feature that make it a must-have. But - it will sell by the bucket load. People will be queuing to buy it!
Battle for the telly.
Although it’s not shaping up to be a Betamax v. VHS style format war, there appears to be a split over ultra high definition technologies. LG are pushing OLED (Organic LED) as the way forward to that crispy picture, while Samsung are championing SUHD, which uses, among other technologies, the so-called Quantum Dot system.
LG are rumoured to be also releasing a Quantum Dot TV later in the year, and Samsung produced one of the first OLED TVs to the market, so it’s not the LG v. Samsung, OLED v. QD battle that an initial glance at the market may have indicated.
And whatever the technologies, what about content? Netflix are starting to produce 4k media, but where else is it going to come from? It’s hard to justify the purchase of a 4k telly with practically nothing to watch on it.
Sky are going to release a 4k box, probably this year, but initially at least, 4k content may go the way of 3D and be a niche product.
As prices of these high end TVs start to fall, we may see, this year, demand for 4k content tip the balance so that at least one media provider will take the step to actually put out a significant proportion of programmes in 4k.
Internet of Things, or the Internet of Everything.
More and more devices will hook up wirelessly to your home network, allowing you to control and monitor them on your smartphone or over the web.
Devices will increasingly offer conveniences such as the heating coming on half an hour before you’re due home, or your fridge ordering milk when you run out. So far so good, but what about the flip side?
As more devices garner more data, questions arise over who will own that data about us, our movements, preferences and habits. It may be the device manufacturers, the operating system producers, or us. These huge tracts of personal data will start to have effects on us - the products we are offered, the adverts we are shown, the purchases we’re encouraged to make.
Prices of printers for all markets are tumbling, with consumer units now well within the reach of the interested hobbyist.
But it’s in the realm of manufacturing that 3D printing will really start making an impact. The levels of precision of 3D printing allow the production of highly complex components and objects for all manner of markets. Plus, costs of production are low compared to traditional tooling processes, making 3D printing a potential game changer in emerging markets.
In the aerospace industry, to take one example, as 3D printed components pass that industry’s stringent safety tests, more spare parts for planes will be produced quickly and accurately, potentially lowering the costs of flight.
It’s easy to become blasé about tech - it’s everywhere these days. Our advice: don’t buy it unless you need it and watch who you’re giving away information to. We’re off now to check the time on our clockwork wristwatches and log in via modem onto something called a bulletin board. Happy New Year!