New Tech Trends – 2016

New Tech Trends – 2016

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When we gazed ahead at the devices, breakthroughs and ideas most likely to make waves, two themes emerged. One is liberation: We’re increasingly less shackled, be it to a phone charger or a cable subscription. The other is intelligence: As processing power and bandwidth increase, our machines, services and even messaging apps become more capable.

Wiser Messaging Apps

Your new robot BFF is just a message away. In 2016, messaging stops being just a way to send texts and emojis to friends, but also a way to reach all-knowing bot assistants. Beta-testers in the San Francisco area using Facebook’s Messenger app can already ask “M” to book restaurant reservations, buy a gift for a friend or simply tell you Mom’s birthday. Google is reportedly readying a similar app. Bots aside, messaging software will also evolve to include more features. Just like China’s popular messaging apps, you’ll be able to pay your friends or bills, book appointments, play games, translate messages and more.

Safer, Smarter Drones

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Everybody loves the aerial look of drone photography, but let’s face it—not everybody was born to be a drone pilot. We’ll soon think of drones more like cameras than helicopters, as their technology evolves to compensate for novice mistakes and foolhardy fliers. One maker, Lily, plans to release a waterproof model that launches when flung into the air, then follows you around as you kayak, ski or take a sunset selfie on the beach. Action-camera giant GoPro also plans to deliver a drone, called Karma, though the company has been tight-lipped about how it’ll work

Happy New USB Port

The USB port you have known—and probably hated—is in for a change. In 2015, the smaller, faster USB Type-C port appeared in laptops like Apple’s new MacBook, and phones like Google’s Nexus 6P. This will be the year it also turns up in monitors, hard drives and everything else. The great news: USB Type-C is capable of two-way power, so one port on a laptop could be used to charge the battery and connect an external drive. This should result in fewer cords, plus faster charging. The bad news: All the USB cords you’ve previously amassed will join the rat’s nest in your garage.

Voice-Operated Everything

No, you’re not paranoid: The gadgets really are listening. Voice-operated electronics are poised for a quantum leap in accuracy and intelligence in 2016. Talking offers a more natural way to interact with devices that need complex input but aren’t exactly keyboard-friendly, such as TVs, sound systems and household electronics. Voice arrived in a big way in 2015 when Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant came to Windows 10, while Siri and Google Now turned up in cars and TVs. This year, expect voice control on more computers and an even wider range of gadgets, including the CogniToys Dino, a toy that uses IBM’s Watson to help answer questions, and Jibo, a talking family robot.

Cameras That See More

The Light camera uses an array of 16 lens-and-sensor modules to create crisp, super-high-resolution images.

The Light camera uses an array of 16 lens-and-sensor modules to create crisp, super-high-resolution images.

Smartphones and point-and-shoots alike are sprouting multiple lenses and sensors to improve image quality, capture depth and “see” in 3-D. Some laptops and tablets already contain multi-sensor cameras—such as Intel’s RealSense—to measure rooms and use facial ID at login. A slim camera called the Light L16, due this summer, goes all out, employing 16 lens-and-sensor modules of varying focal lengths to capture massive 52-megapixel scenes.

The Wall Street Journal

December 27, 2015

 

 

 

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