2016 brought exciting technology developments that dominated headlines. Apple made a splash by ditching the headphone jack on its latest iPhone model, Snapchat reignited excitement over wearables with its new smart sunglasses, Spectacles, and Oculus Rift finally launched its VR headset.
So what will 2017 bring? Many tech analysts and enthusiasts – Walker Sands included – are already speculating over what innovations will emerge. As we make our way into the New Year, it’s worth taking a look at how the ever-evolving tech industry will shape our culture and dominate headlines in 2017.
- Augmented reality (AR) explores the enterprise. The Pokemon Go craze catapulted AR to the mainstream in 2016, and we’ll likely only see more AR applications in 2017. With “augmented reality,” virtual images and information are displayed on top of the physical world. While the success of Pokemon Go created a huge appetite for AR games, expect more enterprises to look for targeted applications of AR with devices like Microsoft’s Hololens. Microsoft is already exploring how the device could improve the construction industry.
- Virtual reality (VR) gets real(er). VR is predicted to grow into a $30 billion market as early as 2020. Last year, we saw major strides in the VR space with the launch of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive’s, Samsung’s Gear VR and PlayStation VR. 2017 will likely see a major push in the development of better VR content including video games and film. As VR picks up steam amongst consumers and media companies, we’ll likely see more brands try to incorporate the technology into their marketing efforts.>
- Mainstream AI and machine learning. The success of Amazon’s Echo brought renewed attention to the potential value of virtual assistants. To compete, Google launched Google Home, it’s own smart speaker, and Mark Zuckerberg even built his own AI personal assistant, Jarvis (voiced by Morgan Freeman, no less!). Not to beat, Apple announced it would open up Siri to third-party apps, signalling it will likely integrate the virtual assistant into other devices. Expect chatbots and AI virtual assistants to be integrated into even more devices and applications in 2017. As businesses look to drive digital innovation and create business value, we’ll also see more mainstream instances of AI in 2017. Industries ranging from to banking to retail will start using machine learning to create more personalized and efficient customer experiences.
- Autonomous cars make strides. With nearly every car manufacturer, including new players like startup Faraday Future, as well as transportation service providers like Uber and Lyft aggressively pursuing autonomous driving, we can expect to hear even more about this trend in 2017. At this year’s CES, nearly every car maker showcased their self-driving car technology in an attempt to build consumer excitement. While we may still be a few years away from a fully autonomous vehicle, this year we’ll start to see more of the building blocks that could turn this long-time fantasy into reality. Discussions related to the ethics around self-driving vehicles, the impact on the sharing-economy and what the future of in-car entertainment will look like will also grow.
Time will tell just how much these four trends actually advance in 2017, but one thing is for sure: Tech innovation, whether from established players like Apple or a new unknown start-up, will continue to upend our lives in exciting new ways. And oftentimes, the most influential technologies are the ones we never expected.
What tech trends do you foresee dominating headlines in 2017? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @WalkerSands!