Was 2016 our smartest year ever? The last year of innovation focused on connectedness and smart technology – inside our home, at our office and even on our wrist! Here’s a look back at some of the major technology trends in 2016.
2016 showed rapid production and adoption of personal VR devices. Media providers quickly recognized the trend. YouTube, Twitch and other video streaming sources offered 3D video. Virtual reality field trips began in classrooms all across the world. Virtual reality also found a place in training for corporations and the U.S. military, including a large number of VR headsets became available to the public.
US Military – Virtual Reality Training
3D printers also found new use in a wide variety of fields. From decorative ceramics to automotive manufacturing, 3D printing technology decreased the cost and time requirement for manufacturing. Printers found their way into universities and primary schools as a way of teaching students about science and engineering. Innovation will continue as demand increases.
Software as a Service and Cloud Computing
2016 was a huge year for software as a service (SaaS). Leading software developers such as Adobe, Microsoft and Google continued to pioneer subscription services for impressive web applications. Whole operating systems and software suites were maintained, as well as accessed remotely through the cloud. Updates and improvements were applied in real time for a seamless user experience.
Web Design and Development
Developments in HTML and CSS changed the way we viewed the web. Improved load times, responsive layouts, loading animations and animation effects made it to the forefront of professional design. Standards were raised for modern user interfaces. Companies worked hard to provide a universal experience with computers, tablets, phone displays and mobile applications.
Nearly a dozen wearable devices were launched in 2016 and we saw the acquisition of smartwatch maker Pebble by the fitness wearable company, Fitbit. In one year, smartwatches received powerful firmware updates and aesthetic makeovers that balanced functionality with fashion. Wearables for training helped athletes of all skill levels with motion sensors, GPS tracking and companion health apps.
Everything from coffee bean roasters to kitchen toasters became connected to the Internet and applications allowed smarter control of homes, including apartments with mobile devices. From security alarms and thermostats to TVs with Netflix and Hulu, 2016 brought the future one step closer with home automation, as well as comfort.
Payment became easier and wireless! Samsung, Apple, Square and Visa are just a few of the major payment processors that launched or developed a proprietary payment method. Adoption included large retailers and restaurants. The combination of wearable technology with digital payment methods meant that users could leave their wallets at home.
2016 saw the launch of Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant for the Amazon Echo. Alongside Siri and Google Now, Alexa provides a voice interface that learns over time plus helps answer questions, as well as achieving tasks. Google and Apple worked with developers to make their virtual assistants integrate with other apps and services such as Facebook, WhatsApp and more.
What Will the Future Hold?
Web, tablet, mobile and wearable experiences saw major improvements in seamless integration. These top technology trends from 2016 can be expected to continue in 2017. Cloud services, 3D printing technology and SaaS will continue to shape or impact business. Consumers will find convenience and efficiency in improved software and technology in 2017.