2016 has been a whirlwind in all sectors, not the least of which was technology. From the death of the headphone jack to the Pokémon Go phenomenon, the abilities of our devices have grown by leaps and bounds. As we bid farewell to a year that has been at times both exhilarating and terrifying, here is a look at what we can expect to see in 2017 and beyond.
Virtual reality has received a lot of buzz lately, with new gaming platforms and phone accessories designed to immerse you in the computing experience. Experts, however, are keeping a closer eye on augmented reality. Pokémon Go’s popularity this summer is a prime example; using your device, you are still operating in the world around you, but your phone or tablet is adding virtual features that you can interact with – like imaginary creatures. Not just for games, AR is being eyed for training and industrial uses, and some companies are even rolling it out for everyday consumer purposes – Picture a map app that will overlay the building you’re looking at with information about the address.
Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
These may seem synonymous, but are quickly establishing themselves as two distinct fields. Machine learning is expected to grow immensely, improving application and internet experiences. This learning is meant to remember and apply information provided by a user – an app that is used to select a restaurant might over time learn your food preferences and suggest a new establishment based on that information. AI, on the other hand, requires more finesse on the part of the computer – not only must it recall, but use this information to infer meaning and make decisions. Most chat bots utilize AI, and are becoming harder to distinguish from human representatives. While we may not have Skynet yet, expect more human-like interactions with your devices in the year ahead.
Speaking of AI, experts predict more voice-controlled helpers in the near future. Most of us are already familiar with Siri and Alexa; Google recently revealed the Google Home device, which can control linked elements using voice or an app, and more companies are poised to join in the market. Unexpected everyday items are being added to the list of things that can be controlled remotely – light bulbs, security systems, space heaters, refrigerators – and the versatility continues to grow. Just look at the device that will order detergent or diapers with just the push of a button. 2017 could be the year that ushers in a coffee maker that automatically alerts you if you forget to schedule your morning brew or window shades that adjust based on the brightness outside. Anticipate seeing these items become more pervasive, useful, and inexpensive, and more technically-integrated homes.
Most of us know about the existence of smartphone-based transactions; though while a growing number of vendors accept such programs as Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet, the public in general has been slow to adopt. Many people are reluctant to experiment with this technology due to valid concerns about the security of their information. Virtual wallet programs are growing, however; with large banks adopting the technology, it is helping to legitimize the practice to consumers and vendors alike. Security is a concern that the developers are aware of, especially in light of hacking reports in the recent past; among other tactics virtual wallets use to keep your money and data safe are the use of PINs and encryption. 2017 should see this technology growing even safer and more widely-used.
The Cloud in general has been enjoying steady growth, and that’s not expected to change. More companies are turning to the Cloud as the volume and security of their information becomes a concern, and many are opting to transition to a remote solution as their current expensive hardware grows quickly obsolete. With the rise in companies’ adoptions of apps and AI, which requires extensive memory, the necessity for vast amounts of secure, stable storage is becoming more and more important. There are major contenders out there, but Crossroads, can offer a financially backed guaranteed of security and stability levels, with more personal attention and a smaller price tag.
If some of these subjects seemed confusing, don’t worry; one of the things you can look forward to in the New Year will be a continuation of this series covering these topics more in-depth. Stay tuned to learn more about all of these topics, and what the New Year brings.
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