Tech Trends: what you can expect in 2017

So, what technology will blow us away in 2017? Should we expect AI robots, self-driving cars and loads more AR games? Ian Bear, Client Developer at our office in Ipswich, shares his thoughts on what we can expect.

2016 was a great year

2016 was a great year for technology. We saw the first virtual reality (VR) systems hit the market from Oculus Rift, HTC and Sony. Wearable tech got an extra-fashionable touch from the likes of Breitling and Skagen. 4K and curved screens became more accessible, and all our tech got a little bit smarter with advances in artificial intelligence (AI). Now we find ourselves in a new year with exciting new developments in technology to look forward to. So what does 2017 have in store for us? Let’s find out:

Your world, only better

This year, VR looks set to continue to rise in popularity and we should see it taking hold in the mainstream consumer base. Some of 2016’s best games are being ported to take full advantage of VR, including Bethesda’s wildly popular Fallout 4. The signs are there that VR is likely to be the in-demand piece of gaming tech for 2017: top quality games are offering high-quality immersive gaming experiences, the hardware is getting cheaper with Sony has introducing an affordable PlayStation VR option.

Augmented Reality (AR) also looks to be a trend in 2017. Last year we saw Pokémon capturing the world for at least a month (an impressive feat) so all sorts of companies will surely look to take advantage of consumers’ interest in the novelty of AR entertainment. With Apple rumoured to be looking to jump into the AR smart glasses market, alongside the likes of Microsoft’s HoloLens, AR could take centre stage by the end of 2017.

The Power of Speech

Voice assistance was big in 2016 and it’s here to stay. You’ve got a plethora of options to choose from: Siri, Cortana and now Alexa from Amazon. Even Samsung is getting in on the act with Bixby, now included as part of the new S8. These intelligent personal assistants are able to do almost anything you ask, from setting alarms and reading you the day’s headlines to talking you through recipes as you cook (and suggesting a nearby restaurant if something goes wrong). These voice activated personal assistants are getting more and more useful whether you’re at home or on the go.

With the rise in popularity of these voice capable devices and their affordability (the Amazon Dot will only set you back $50), 2017 should see more and more application interfacing with these technologies. The Alexa platform already interfaces with popular applications like Spotify, Uber and Just Eat, but as the year goes on, we should see even more interfacing from the other platforms and new applications coming on board.

The only thing standing in the way of this progression is the fact that the space is fragmented (often being tied to a particular smartphone ecosystem) so application developers might not want to integrate fully until some sort of unified interface has been development and adopted.

The home of the future, today

Home automation gadgets go hand-in-hand with the rise of voice assistance. This looks to be the year when all kinds of home automation and the Internet of Things goes truly mainstream.

Many tech enthusiasts have been using devices like the Raspberry Pi to do home automation for years, but with companies like Wemo, Philips (with Hue), and Nest making home automation more accessible, we should see large growth in this space this year.

Even the appliances themselves are getting smarter. In 2017, we will see the introduction of various Wi-Fi enabled devices. At the Consumer Technology Association (CES) conference last year, LG unveiled a new smart fridge that, by using Amazon Alexa integration, displays recipes and places food orders. Its nine-inch screen allows you see inside the fridge without opening the door, and, amazingly, digitally tags items with names and expiration dates. It even includes a camera so that you can see inside the fridge using your smartphone. That’s pretty impressive.

Smart Food

Speaking of fridges, in 2017 we expect to see an even bigger focus on synthetic foods, particularly meats and dairy. The last decade saw a huge increase in ethically focused approaches to eating, with an estimated 360 per cent increase in the number of vegans and vegetarians in the UK. That equates to rough 400 000 new people converting to plant-based diets over the last 10 years.

Companies like Future Food and SuperMeat are looking at various means to produce delicious and nutritious meat variants – products that taste like meat, but are free from the ethical and environmental issues surrounding traditionally farmed meat. These methods include growing meat from cells in labs.

The vegan community is a vocal one and because of the huge spotlight on the meat industry, more money and research will pour into this area in 2017 and beyond, although it seems we are still some years away from eating a lab-grown Big Mac.

But wait, there’s more

2017 looks like it’s going to be a bumper year for self-driving cars, with many companies including Tesla, Ford and Google vowing to enter the market by 2021. Many new steps forward in this tech area are expected this year.

The AI side of things seems to be growing well with advances in neural networks and natural language learning expected to be at the forefront of researchers’ minds. China has shown as massive interest in AI in recent years which is sure to move the technology forward even faster.

Big data and analytics will continue to grow in popularity as a way of analysing the vast amount of data collected each day. New techniques and improved system architecture should push this industry even further in 2017.

Do you have any thoughts on what we might expect to see this year? If so, please comment on our Facebook page or tweet us @Derivco . We’d love to hear what you think!