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17 Feb 2017

Technology of 2017 - what should we be looking out for?

2016 was an eventful year in so many ways. In terms of technology, 2016 changed how we live, work and play.

Looking forward to 2017, technology is expected to continue influencing both business and consumer lives. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, 3D printing and Artificial Intelligence are predicted to be amongst the most influencing technologies of 2017.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

2016 saw augmented reality and virtual reality technology explode into the consumer space.

For anyone who’s unsure of the difference, AR administers a digital layer onto the world around us and in doing so enhances it, rather than replacing it as with VR.

A range of VR headsets were released that satisfy all price points, from cheap and cheerful smartphone based products such as the Samsung Gear, to the high quality PC based Oculus Rift.

This new technology received a positive reaction and saw thousands of VR apps and games follow. Alongside this, the popularity of AR began to take off, with Pokemon Go downloads topping over 100 million.

2017 is set to be even bigger for VR, with experts predicting the expansion into social activities including shopping and sport.

For example when searching for an item in a shop, VR can be used to direct you to the exact location on the specific aisle.

AR is expected to advance further, with the technology making it’s way to our phones, a homeowner redesigning their kitchen could use an AR app to see the different designs in reality for example.  

3D Printers

3D printers have been around for decades but have recently become commercialised after a key patent expired in 2009, dramatically reducing costs.

This has seen a transition from only manufacturing prototypes for testing, to now producing final products.

Materials used include plastics, resins, metals and even edible ingredients, meaning this manufacturing method appeals to a variety of industries.

Applications have recently opened up within medical and dental fields as low cost implants can be created that are fully customisable to an individual.

The trend has also taken off in the film industry, a copy of the Aston Martin DB 5 was used in an explosion scene in Skyfall as using the original would cost at least half a million pounds.

Due to the low cost, wide range of materials and high speed of manufacture, experts anticipate 3D printing to become a common method of manufacturing. Looking at the shorter term, 3D printers are expected to be one of the must have gifts of 2017.

Artificial Intelligence

2016 saw investments in AI serge. This trend is expected to continue well into 2017, as the popularity of AI within enterprise is expected to proliferate. Experts have even compared the current rise of AI, to that of electricity and the internet in the 20th century.

AI is expected to bring massive shifts in how people perceive and interact with technology, with machines performing a wider range of tasks. For those who haven’t come across AI before, it’s an umbrella term for technologies that are inspired by biological systems, giving computers human-like abilities relating to seeing, reasoning, hearing and learning.

Experts anticipate autonomous vehicles, robotics and bots (consumer-based such as Amazon Echo and personal assistants) to be the most popular this year. We’ve already seen one key advancement regarding Autonomous vehicles, Amazon made its first commercial delivery using a drone in December last year.

It’s predicted other retailers including Google, are adopting similar technologies to meet ever changing customer expectations. The discovery of new technologies is exciting from both business and consumer perspectives, however it is vital that both take responsibility to protect against cyber threats.

At first you may not think these technologies, especially 3D printers, are at risk of such attacks. However the reality is that any device or piece of technology connected to the network has the potential to be hacked.

One of the largest dangers within 3D printing, for example, is the corruption of CAD files - printing instructions aren’t included on the files therefore any deliberate alterations to the process would be undetected.

This highlights the importance of having a robust security solution in place to ensure all documents and data are protected and safely managed.

Back to the technology, there are already people predicting how it will have changed our lives by 2050, but for now I think you will agree there’s certainly a lot of exciting developments to look out for in 2017.

Let us know which one's you are most excited for by leaving your comments below.

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