Technology advances gradually, with the majority of consumers often hearing about products long before they consider buying them. By the time a product reaches the laggards in the adoption life cycle, early adopters have usually been actively using a product for years.
The products gaining momentum in 2016 have been in the news for years. This year, experts are turning their attention toward these eight technologies, realizing they are the most likely types of technology to reach widespread adoption.
1. Machine learning
As helpful as computers have been, they’ve still lacked the reasoning capabilities found in their human owners. With machine learning, technology has the ability to help businesses using sophisticated algorithms. Those algorithms can predict future behaviors based on a past set of behavior. In 2016, businesses will begin to see more experimentation related to machine learning as developers learn to use the technology.
Consumers already use thumbprint authentication to unlock their smartphones and tablets. In 2016, technologists will find new ways to allow consumers to conveniently and securely gain access to secure devices and areas. Apple is reportedly working on sophisticated facial biometrics, and Canada is testing facial recognition technology at its border patrol stations. However, with lawsuits already alleging privacy violations, tech companies may face an uphill battle in bringing this technology to market.
3. Virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) was the hot tech toy at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), leading attendees to speculate that VR is this year’s technology to watch. With headsets from Facebook, Sony, HTC, and Samsung, software developers are working hard to give consumers something to watch. Consumers have already gotten a feel for the realism of the latest VR technology at The Martian VR Experience in Las Vegas, and as headsets go mainstream, there will likely be many more applications for the technology.
By now, everyone knows someone with a fitness wearable if they don’t have one themselves. The next phase for wearables is “internables,” which are fitness trackers implanted in a patient’s body. Once connected internally, these trackers could monitor a person’s heart rate, blood glucose levels, blood pressure and more. These trackers could soon give medical professionals a way to monitor their patients following a health issue and eventually, they could even allow healthy consumers to learn as soon as possible when problems arise.
5. Predictive analytics
2016 will continue the ongoing quest for businesses to learn as much as possible about everything. This could be the year that businesses implement what they learn in controversial ways, like insurance companies using predictive analytics to profile customers and adjust premiums accordingly.
6. Social collaboration
When consumers want to share information with their friends and family members, they turn to social-media sites. This mentality is gradually showing up in the workplace as businesses find a way for employees and clients to collaborate in the way they feel most comfortable. Social collaboration tools like HipChat and Slack will become part of more organizations that seek to streamline their communications to save time.
7. Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is gradually making its way into homes and offices, with products like Nest and Ring connecting home appliances to the cloud. Businesses now realize the importance of creating products that will address the growing need for tech-connected solutions. Businesses of all types will eventually be affected in one way or another by this trend.
8. Enhanced voice recognition
Siri and Cortana have helped consumers get acquainted with the power of artificial intelligence, but the field has only begun. Apple is reportedly refining Siri to make her even more useful to smartphone owners. Soon the “Proactive Assistant” feature of iPhones will begin to execute advice based on customers getting in their car or entering their homes. Google’s Cortana already strives to learn more about its users and with its Google Now, the artificial intelligence aims to give users the right information at the right time.
Technology will continue to advance in exciting ways, making consumers’ lives easier. This brings new challenges to businesses across all industries, however, as they strive to make sure they’re creating products and services that intuitively meet the needs of customers. The consumer market will benefit as a result, but industries will become much more competitive as innovative startups take on corporate giants.