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2017: A BREAKTHROUGH YEAR FOR TECH

Friday 13th January 2017
2016 was a massive year for technology! In this blog we explore just some of the exciting digital concepts expected to make huge waves in the technology market this year!

Virtual Reality and Augmented reality…
2016 saw Virtual Reality technology accessories and Augmented Reality concepts really start to hit off in the digital sector. Tech giants such as HTC, Samsung and Google were just some of the big names that started exploring this exciting new area of tech. 



Successful VR accessories were released such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift which dominated Christmas lists across the world in 2016. A particular area where VR & AR has made a big impact last year was in the gaming industry. Downloadable apps such as the Pokémon Go game and Snapchat’s augmented reality filters have given users around the world hours of entertainment.



So what can we expect this year? 
The future opportunities that lie in VR and AR are endless, and this year we will continue to see this area of the market grow considerably. We can expect these technologies to expand further outside of the gaming sector, into other areas of the entertainment industry, with talk of live streaming providers such as Periscope teaming up with VR companies, where spectator events will be available to view live for users from the comfort of their own living room, through VR technology accessories.

In terms of Augmented Reality, 2017 will see users have the ability to start to have more creative control over AR content on the apps they use, for example their own Snapchat filters etc.

Forbes predicts that VR and AR will also be used in workplace gamification. Developers are in the R&D phase and anticipate that incorporating virtual reality will improve employee engagement, employee retainment, and customer experience as well as improve collaboration on projects as remote working continues to grow in popularity for organisations. (Read more here).

So who are the big game changers in AR & VR to look out for? 
2017 will see Apple’s entrance into this market as it explores AR in the functionality of the Iphone 8 camera. With the unveiling of iPhone 8, the 10th anniversary iPhone, many are predicting a change in the design, and while a head worn display is possible, the phone camera is the obvious and most accessible AR device for consumers to explore AR today. With the success of AR in Snapchat’s filter features, there’s the possibility we could see those functions in the everyday functions of the Iphone 8.

You may have heard of Snap Inc (same company that brought us Snapchat) Snap have realised a wearable tech, sunglasses/camera product – ‘Spectacles’, and is currently preparing for the largest tech IPO since Facebook! SNAP!’s ‘Spectacles’ currently allows wearers to take pictures of whatever it is their looking at through their glasses. The next logical step for SNAP in 2017 is to become a product that displays live information about whatever it is the user is looking at, as well as walking directions, displaying recent texts messages and reminders.

Blockchain…

Although Bitcoin was created in 2009 and is well established, using Blockchain technologies in other industries is still in its infancy and 2017 is looking like the year it may take off.

Bitcoin is an encrypted digital currency that is part of an increasingly popular category of currencies called crypto-currency. The most important feature of Bitcoin is that it operates separately to central banks. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. 
 
Blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin is proving a hit in the technology industry. 

Blockchain is a method of recording data (which can be anything of value), the major difference is that the recorded data is not stored on one centralised database, it is stored on a network of computers around the world. Everybody in the network has access to the data and it cannot be altered. The advantage of this is that it is very secure, a hacker would have to access every copy of the database that has been distributed globally on potentially thousands of computers to be successful. It also reduces the chance for fraud, if somebody altered the data once it’s been stored it would alert the network that that certain record does not match the rest on the network.
 
As it currently stands the main industry where Blockchain is used is in Finance which makes sense due to the amount of sensitive data that is transmitted globally. However we are seeing it expand and it has also been successfully used in industries ranging from Music to Healthcare. 

Autonomous Vehicles…
2016 was a big year for self-driving cars with the government making plans to invest heavily into the development of this area by including it on the 2016 budget manifesto. However this year will be the year that this ideology (that once seemed so unrealistic and far-fetched) will begin to become a reality!

What shall we look out for?
Volvo is releasing 100 self-driving cars onto public roads in Gothenburg Sweden this year. The Sweden based car manufacturer will also be releasing a fleet of 100 cars on to roads in china. Volvo will offer the opportunity to local citizens to take a ride and experience full driving autonomy! 

Following suit, Ford also aims to be releasing 30 driverless vehicles across Europe this year. Ford wants to make self-drive taxis that will be designed without a steering wheel, the need for the use of petrol and brakes available to the public to use by 2021.

Tesla began installing new hardware in Tesla cars back in October 2016 that improves Autopilot functionality that allows their cars to become fully autonomous. To demonstrate the technology, a fully self-driving Tesla will drive itself from Los Angeles to New York before the end of 2017. If this demonstration goes to plan, the availability of driver-less cars on our roads will not be far behind at all.



Artificial Intelligence…
AI is a huge trend in the digital market. We’ve made friends with the voices of Artificial Intel for a couple of years now, including Apple’s Siri and Google’s assistant. 2016 saw the entrance of Amazon Echo’s Alexa – a sophisticated piece of AI which uses far-field voice recognition to answer your questions, report news, traffic, weather conditions and even order taxi’s and takeaways for you.

So what’s next in 2017?
Many have referred to 2017 as the year for AI. This year we could see more AI innovation, but with more of an emphasis on the healthcare industry. 

Samsung have launched an ‘AI’ ultrasound device to help doctors correctly diagnose breast tumours. The deep learning algorithm – ‘ S-detect’ uses around 10,000 cases of breast tumour examinations to assist doctors in lesion diagnosis. This device which is already being used in some hospitals in the US, should be widely uses across Europe by the end of 2017.

Also, in a controversial trial, NHS patients will be assessed by robots under the ‘111’ scheme to use “AI” to ease pressures on accident and Emergency units.
Throughout the rest of the year, developers will continue to work on new innovation to improve the efficiency of healthcare across the world as well as make medical breakthroughs through the use of AI.

Automated Housing…
As tech continues to develop, we as consumers are becoming more demanding. Digital devices are making our lives easier, allowing us to cut corners where we can, and quite frankly, we like it! The increasing popularity of convenience technology is going to make smart homes a key area of growth in the technology market this year.

Consumers can expect to see more and more ‘hub’ offerings being made available this year, following the success of the Amazon Echo last year. New hubs will allow home owners to control pretty much every aspect of their home from the devices of their choice, whether they are in the house of not.



This year will also explore the concept of using technology to secure our housing through finger print identification, cutting out the need for house keys! (Read more here.)

From what we’ve covered in this post, it’s clear to see that the expectations are high for 2017 as far as digital is concerned.

What are your thoughts? What technology are you most excited to see this year? Leave your comments below or tweet us @AmsourceTech.

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