What to expect from 2016? First, let’s revisit some of the highlights of 2015. Some say that 2015 was a bit of a disappointment in terms of mobile technology, since nothing really interesting debuted during the year. That might be true if you only consider what was released when it comes to smartphones. Furthermore, there were no new embedded sensors introduced throughout the year, except Apple’s 3D Touch display, which is a first step towards the further exploration of tactile mobile experiences in 2016. During 2015, the number of IoT products and gadgets that utilize our smartphones as digital hubs have increased significantly. In cases like Apple’s HomeKit, we are now able to use a media center as the digital hub of our home (eg. existing hardware increases functionality, which allows for a lower investment threshold for new technology in our homes). Although smart home devices have been around for a few years now, the number of products increased and these options became a bit more user friendly in 2015.
Philips launched an app-based ultrasound, Lumify, which makes ultrasound mobile and available almost anywhere. This gadget is an excellent example of how our smart devices can act as an extended UI (user interface) for our gadgets; the result is not only more portable devices, but also cheaper devices since not all devices have to incorporate full-fledged graphics capabilities. Another benefit is that additional computing power can be added to the system, which creates a small distributed computing system. The same goes for the steadily growing smart watch segment, which continues to extend and add functionality to our smart devices.
Another interesting advancement that I personally have been waiting for was introduced by Microsoft last year, the Continuum. The smartphone becomes our only device, but it is no longer just mobile first – it’s now mobile only. Another device on the same theme is Solu, a coaster-sized cloud-based computer that fits in our pocket. However, we still need a little more processing power to replace our laptop with a smartphone. The new generation tablets are also starting to replace our laptops, or at least making it more difficult for us to make a choice between a new laptop or a new tablet. Imagine if laptops could be replaced by small portable screens and “dumb” tablets. This will extend our smartphone as the one device to do it all.
For 2016, I expect to see even more dynamic, data-driven mobile apps incorporating sensor information and tactile objects – maybe even as far as odor smell. It will probably be the year when we see virtual reality applications take off. Oculus Rift will be available for customers during Q1 2016, and there’s Google Cardboard, which will allow you to fold your own VR goggles and get going. What exciting applications will we see during 2016 that utilize VR? To take advantage of the technology, one might have to buy a new powerful desktop computer (which is a segment of the PC market that has seen a steady decrease over the last few years).
A few things are clear about what 2016 will bring us in terms of technology. IoT will continue to grow and UX (user experience) will still be a focus that drives a lot of the innovation within mobile technology.