One need only put in your VHS of Back to the Future or Escape from L.A. to realise that technological predictions for the future aren’t always spot on. Think of the internet or cell phones, for instance. A few decades ago no one would have thought that life could be so connected, so intuitive, so convenient.

Technological advancements

And technological advancements aren’t half as scary and invasive as sci-fi writers would have us believe. Indeed, most changes seem to offer improvements and positive enhancements which far outweigh our deepest fears.

With Mark Zuckerberg announcing that 2016’s theme is ‘invention’ and that he’d be looking into creating a simple AI to help his home (like Jarvis), we thought it good to look into some technological trends for the coming year. Who knows, the next big thing may be just around the corner.

Always connected

According to Forbes, the number one tech trend for the new year is that everyone will be connected everywhere. This means you will be able to compute wherever you are and interconnect all your devices and accounts. Indeed, it seems the process may becomes so intuitive, we’d be able to connect without even trying.

AI is at the door

Zuckerberg is not the only one who believes that 2016 is the year of artificial intelligence. According to CBS, cognitive computing is one of the top trends we can look forward to. This means software and equipment that can process and respond intuitively to natural spoken and body language cues and commands. This trend is said to be most visible in the customer services arena, with ‘robots’ assisting people with their needs and queries.

Democratised medical technology

With technological breakthroughs happening around every turn, it is conceivable that democratised medical tech is in our near future. This means technology which is cheaper, more mobile (think handheld) and can make rapid and comprehensive changes and improvements in the medical field. This includes 3D bioprinting, gene-editing and more. We’re also looking forward to more health-related smart technologies and gadgets – tools which help us make smarter choices and pre-empt our body clocks.

Virtual reality is a go!

Virtual reality is exciting, and this doesn’t just apply to the gaming industry (though we’re looking forward to that too) – which will see each and everyone try out the Oculus Rift. No sir, there are many more possibilities for the world of VR. Think, for instance, of the way virtual reality software and applications will change education and communication. Think of the future of the movie industry and online shopping. Harnessing the power of VR could be the next wheel, airplane or internet.

Advanced analytics

It’s said that analytics is the tool which truly gives companies the upper hand over their competition. But although much of analytics is automated, it still requires significant human coding and interpretation – something which is time-consuming, costly and leaves room for human error. In 2016, however, we’ll be seeing a whole lot more pervasive, invisible and intuitive software analysis which will ease business processes and decision-making through expedited, integrated and mass data analytics which has not been possible to date.

Smart machines

A bit of an overlap of VR, AI and cognitive computing, smart machines are already on the rise. Although Apple pretty much invented the ‘integration’ arena, other brands may find it much easier to offer an integrated user experience in smart machines due to Android’s open source status. Consequently, you will find a more context-rich experience with your machines and a more cohesive experience across multiple devices and platforms.

Hello motor!

It’s been on the cards for years, but we’re hoping to see sci-fi meet car engineering this year. The FAA has already approved test flights for a flying car, just as BMW announced their futuristic gesture controls and Ford announced a patent for a rear wheel which transforms into an electric unicycle. We’ve been seeing the first hoverboards make their appearance in South African malls, and are looking forward to getting a piece of the action. As the focus shifts to cleaner energy, we’re sure we can look forward to bio-, solar- and electrically fuelled transport, as well as amazing collaborations between the aeronautics, hydronautics and automotive industries.

Bye-bye storage, hello streaming

Along with cloud-computing, where everything you own virtually can be kept in the online sphere, streaming has become the next big thing. This is especially relevant for South Africans who have thus far not been privy to the amazing world of Netflix and kin. Of course, this will require certain internet and connectivity improvements, but it will significantly change how people access and consume information and entertainment – with on-demand becoming king in 2016.

What’s that drone?

Drones have become the way to explore, observe and record the way around us. Not only that, but drones have also provided a gateway to new military, aeronautics, service delivery, photographic, cinematographic and wireless innovations. Although governments and legislators are still a bit confused as to the legislative regulations required for individual and corporate drone – it’s just a matter of time before one and all are taking to, and receiving from, the skies.

Indeed, we have a lot to look forward to in 2016. We’re looking forward to new innovations, challenges and adventures in the coming year.

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