Posted by George Gabriel on 06 Nov, 2014
For this month’s edition of our monthly newsletter, we’re referring back to its title and looking ahead to what 2015 and beyond might hold for the technology industry. Read on to discover the perspectives held by some of the Future Platforms team on future trends in tech.
Wearable technology and the on-wrist revolution
George Gabriel, Marketing Executive
2014 had been predicted as the watershed year for wearable technology, and the market currently boasts the widest ever choice of smart watches and fitness trackers. It’s an industry forecast to be worth nearly £8 billion by 2018, but the “early 2015” tag Apple gave their much-anticipated Watch has almost put a hold on the wider popularity of the market.
While demand has not quite been as high as hoped this year, George expects a lot more people to be wearing health-monitoring devices in 2015, if not fully-fledged smart watches.
“The wearable market is incredibly saturated right now, but with new or impending devices from the biggest names, I believe uptake will increase next year,” he says, adding that there’s “a mystique surrounding new Apple products that often drives wider consumer behaviour.”
Although smartphones existed before the iPhone, the release of that device set an industry-wide precedent for the smartphone, and in a congested wearable market many are hoping Apple Watch can do the same.
Certainly, this thought is reflected in a recent six-month survey, which indicated almost two thirds of consumers are “most excited by the Apple Watch” despite devices from Google, Samsung, LG, Sony, Motorola and Microsoft already being available on the market.
With many people having already spent hundreds of pounds on smartphones, tablets and personal computers, a concern also arises over whether the busy device market needs another category. Many have questioned where the need for a smart watch comes from if you’ve already got a smartphone in your pocket and a perfectly decent watch on your wrist, which for the majority of us is currently the case.
Six inches of separation: the convergence of mobile and desktop
Douglas Hoskins, Head of Mobile
It’s not just wearable devices that are contributing to a flooded device ecosystem either. With the release of the iPhone 6 Plus, there are now just 6 inches between the screen sizes of Apple’s biggest iPhone (5.5”) and smallest computer, the MacBook Air (11.6”). Google’s Nexus 6 is even bigger than its Apple counterpart at 5.9”, and the range of tablets available have crowded this market further.
“More and more people are ditching their PCs and laptops and moving almost exclusively onto mobile devices,” says Douglas. As a result he believes apps will retain and perhaps increase their significance, but will have to better focus their capabilities around offline scenarios in order to maintain consumer attention.
“There are still far too many data black spots, particularly when travelling, and we’re demanding faster and better at all times” he says, also adding that a low-power revolution would help further solve the problems surrounding on-the-go productivity.
Given the increasingly commendable battery life, portability and screen resolution of tablets like the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9, it’s not unconventional to suggest laptop usage might be in decline. One of our developers currently undertakes his work exclusively on a Microsoft Surface, attaching a specially designed keyboard and mouse and, as Douglas says, if battery power and data connectivity can further improve then the demise of the traditional laptop becomes very possible.
Further down the road
Myles Wilter-Heritage, Android Developer
As for longer-term innovation, our team had some inquisitive thoughts on where technology might be heading next, and what current structures need to do in order to be more effective. Myles referred to designer Daan Roosegaarde when predicting that our consciousness of energy consumption might drive future innovation.
The Dutchman, who describes himself as “a hippy with a business plan,” aims to technologically innovate using resources already available to us. Myles explains that Roosegaarde has been researching “a really cool concept” to light streets more efficiently, by using bioluminescence to create energy-neutral, glow-in-the-dark trees.
Reforming current structures to “connect people with truly interactive and sustainable environments,” Roosegaarde is also responsible for the world’s first public smart roads in The Netherlands, where intelligent markings charge during daylight before guiding drivers along and creating “techno-poetry” at night.
The Smart Highway concept also introduces on-road dynamic paint that alerts drivers to adverse weather conditions, and includes an “induction priority lane” to accommodate (and charge) the future’s increased amount of electric cars.
Back to the future
Although some of Roosegaarde’s ideas may currently seem far-fetched, it resembles a different kind of technological innovation in many ways akin to the Nest Learning Thermostat we covered in our previous newsletter.
It could be that with an increasingly converging personal technology market, future technological success, innovation and demand will come from the effective reform of things already around us. The smartphone was the standard-bearer of this notion, and has reinvented the way in which we think not only about phone calls, but also creativity, productivity and personal fitness.
Now, consumers’ ever-growing usage of intelligent technology is pushing innovators to bring that functionality to more than just personal devices. It seems that in the not-too-distant future, jewellery, thermostats, roads, cars and streetlights will all be following the telephone’s example in undergoing an overdue acceleration into the 21st century.
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