The tech world is volatile and unpredictable a good day, but unmovable centrality is a fact that few can deny. They say trends come and go, but today, we’re looking into ambient technology trends that are here to stay - for the time being, at least. Some have been hot topics for the past couple of years, but it’s only recently that most have come into their own — or can be deemed as relevant to consumers. Ambient intelligence refers to a technology that uses its electric environment to respond to the human presence; this once elusive technology is now used for life's small and big luxuries. Do you agree with our list? Leave your comments below and let us know if we’ve missed anything!
Everything that can be connected will be connected. Is that how it goes? Affectionately coined IoT, this trend has been around for the past couple of years, but only recently has such technology been made (more) affordable. Essentially, the premise of IoT is that all gadgets can be ‘smart’ and connected — from mundane kitchen appliances, to cars, to toothbrushes. But it also begs the question — do we need our light bulbs to have an IP address? Or is it simply an endeavor by companies to grasp the IoT goldmine? Yes, consumers are getting more and more sophisticated, but the generated value needs to be weighed, so we’re not just chasing the arbitrary. That being said, incorporating speech recognition, language processing, vision, and even computer learning into the everyday will have transformative effects, drastically changing the way we socialise, work, and live.
Gaming can’t be left off this list and the biggest thing to happen to the industry since Nintendo 64 is Oculus Rift. It’s claimed that by 2020, the virtual reality market could be as large as US$2.8 billion (Source). But what Oculus have their sights on doesn’t necessarily have to do with exploring imaginary worlds or shooting enemy aliens. Perhaps what is more lucrative is how it can be applied to everyday life. Flat viewing or college tours may be time-consuming activities of the past, as administrators are already providing students with reality goggles at college fairs. Virtual reality companies like Oculus will hope to extend their product beyond gaming, where prospective homeowners or tenants will be able to download a file and walk through their new neighbourhood virtually, with ease. Again, affordability is an issue, as the lifestyle functionality of Oculus depends heavily on whether consumers will be able to easily own one for use at home.
Following from the theme of what dystopian films are made of, artificial intelligence is also shifting from dream to reality. SoftBank Robotics’ personal robot Pepper have already hit stores in Japan, with around 200 apps available for download to be released in the next couple of months. While Pepper is pioneering the consumer robotic industry in being the first mass consumer humanoid robot, its actual value — like its predecessors — remains TBD. Yes, Pepper can read emotions, but she’s far from the independent-minded robots that plot the demise of humans. Many speculate that Pepper’s initial popularity primarily stems from the collective nature of the product, but that it’s actual functionality is overrated. Regardless of these considerations, SoftBank has undoubtedly made headway in terms of providing the platform, or hardware, for developers to elevate the sophistication of AI.
With ambient technology slowly changing the way we see the world, one question arises — which companies will remain at the forefront of these trends? Amazon, Google, and Windows have all rolled out their ambient products and services, but one has yet to be normalised or fully embraced as indispensable. Building a smarter application begins and ends with API — so are you the next big developer?
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