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The rise of intelligent homes and VR becoming a reality: What tech stuck in 2017 and what’s hot for 2018Date Posted: 13 December, 2017
The theme for tech in 2017 can be traced back to CES all the way back in January. With the launch of Amazon’s Alexa, we saw the introduction of connected products into the home at a scale not seen before. A couple of Google Home’s and a whole slew of Alexa-powered speakers later, and it’s hard to remember why asking your radio-cum-weather-reporter what’s on your shopping list would ever have been frowned upon.
2017 wasn’t totally dominated by talk of (and between) such products however. Below we’ve listed a few topics that have caught our eye in the tech industry over the past year, and a couple of things to keep an eye on for 2018.
Internet of Things (IoT) joins up
Before we move on completely, let’s just finish fleshing out the main tech talking point of the year. Not new to 2017, the benefits of the IoT for consumers in particular have been increasingly recognised, initiated by the launch of the Amazon Echo at CES and later the Dot, as well as similar releases by brands from Google to Sonos, Libratone and JBL. The ease with which the Echo and co. can be used has been key to their rise in popularity, with voice-automation in the home no longer a foreign concept. The next step will be the introduction of an increasing number of products to truly kick start the automated home, following on from the likes of Nest and Philips who have developed their own connected devices, in order to really make the most out of the IoT and its offerings.
True Wireless takes off
The world of audio took another step towards wireless as a stream of True Wireless earphones began to enter the market. Despite brands such as Onkyo already launching their own buds, it was Apple and their AirPods at the back end of last year that really gave the industry the kick it really needed. Since then, we’ve seen a range of releases, from more sports-orientated earphones such as the Bragi Dash Pro, Jabra Elite Sport and Jaybird Run to the audiophile-friendly Sony WF-1000X, as well as launches from brands such as Urbanista and Philips. As improved audio and better connection is becoming more and more available for consumers, True Wireless is only going to become increasingly common, and has already become a highlight of 2017.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) become…reality
The consumer tech world was first truly introduced to the modern potential of VR when Facebook purchased Oculus VR, Sony announced Project Morpheus (later their PlayStation VR) and Google announced their Cardboard back in 2014. Since then, the platform has struggled with a lack of content and high prices to really force its way into the consumer’s home. 2017 however saw both VR and AR become increasingly accessible, with Apple launching its ARKit and Google its ARCore, more affordable options to previous platforms, and a series of new players entering the field, with ASUS, Acer and HP examples of companies launching their own mixed reality headsets. Brands such as Merge have also continued to grow with products such as their Cube offering a simple alternative experience alongside their own headset without the high price tag, and the likes of Lifeprint have implementing AR in their range of hyperphoto printers. With the tech seemingly set to continue growing due to a number large investments, this is certainly a space to watch for the next few years.
And now to look ahead…
Artificial Intelligence (AI) to take centre stage
If 2017 witnessed the acceptance and subsequent boom of the IoT, then 2018 is set to be the year of AI. Enabling products to not only react to voice command, AI means they can learn and adapt depending on their users’ needs. From your average consumer’s perspective, the likes of the Google Clips, which can remember faces and take pictures at appropriate times, is a relatively easily understood example of AI in action. Recent product launches in other sectors, such Vi in health and fitness, further reflect the potential of AI to impact upon our day to day lives, giving it legs to really take 2018 by storm.
Edge Computing pushes forward
Perhaps not the phrase on everyone’s lips, there’s no doubting that edge computing has the potential for big things over the course of 2018. Although this may sound a little scary, all it really means is inputting IoT capabilities into a product, allowing the likes of smart drones and autonomous vehicles to connect and communicate instantly without the need to send data to the cloud. This will allow for far more responsive and versatile tech; features consumers will appreciate over the next year or so.
What have been your highlights of 2017 and what do you think will be the big trends of 2018? Let us know via our Twitter or leave us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!