Expect these major trends to continue gaining momentum throughout the remainder of this year.
By: Simon Anderson
Defining a list of important trends gets increasingly more difficult each year as the rate of advancement increases. Some things that logically should have happened years ago are frustratingly slow to develop in the real world due to bureaucracy, lobbying, cultural traditions, societal norms, and so on. It’s becoming more important to pay attention to converging, rather than emerging, trends and technologies because the time between “first sightings” and full scale disruptions are steadily approaching zero.
Here are my top trends and technologies for the remainder of this year, but let’s do this a little differently this year. Here’s my number one trend forecast first (the rest are not ranked in a particular order of significance):
#1. Virtual Reality – no, for real this time – Oculus Rift is blazing the trail here and creating an entire industry. Founder Palmer Lucky was fed up with the lack of any decent VR device, so he created one. The impact that this new generation of VR could have on the world by the end of this year is difficult to overestimate, and not just in gaming. Once you’ve used an Oculus Rift, you just “get it”. Trust me. I had incredibly high expectations going in and was still blown away. Taking the Rift off is like getting punched in the face by reality. And that was using the older “developer model” – there are far better versions now. The possibilities are endless, and I’m sure subsequent versions and competitor’s devices will be even more impressive and immersive.
Although not really VR, see also Avegant’s Glyph headset.
Your house gets one step closer to joining the robot uprising – The “Internet of Things” has become a hot topic, with many huge technology and communication companies, such as Cisco, AT&T, and Comcast, envisioning a world where everything in your house “talks” to everything else, can be controlled remotely, and learns your behaviors to optimize your experience at home. IoT devices were a huge hit at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show as well. Why should we believe tweeting toasters and grocery-list-generating refrigerators will start to be a common addition to our homes? Here are a few reasons:
- It’s not just the big companies pushing this. Dozens of startups are also getting in the game here.
- The hardware and software to make all this happen is getting cheaper and better by the day. Literally.
- The majority of Americans have a smart device (phone or tablet).
- The huge success of devices like the Nest thermostat (and recent acquisition by Google).
- Emergence of uniform standards for IoT devices and platforms making it easier for users and developers to get disparate devices and sensors to work together without needing a Master’s degree in engineering
Finally, after years of wishing I could tell my appliances what to do, soon they’ll actually listen!
Flying Autonomous Robots – In the near future, we’ll go from hearing about drones bombing suspected terrorists on TV to seeing them flying around the neighborhood taking video footage for the real estate agent trying to sell the home next door. Delivering our packages maybe, but not this year. The recent ruling by a federal judge that current FAA guidelines can’t restrict commercial drone use should blow the doors wide open, especially since there are already tens of thousands of drones being flown throughout the country that could easily be adapted for commercial uses.
Automation eats employment, has a big appetite – Inefficiency creates jobs. The more workers it takes to produce a unit of product, the more jobs there are. Automation is great at reducing inefficiency. And jobs. We’re nearing the breaking point on this as the distance between the productivity line and the employment line continues to grow on the charts of bewildered economists everywhere. As we continue to produce more with fewer people, a logical conclusion would be to gradually move to a shorter standard workweek; or to rid ourselves of it altogether and move to Results Oriented Work Environments (R.O.W.E.). Read More →