The digitisation of the world is increasing at an incredible pace and will continue to do so in the year ahead. There have been many tech developments - such as iBeacons, virtual reality and wearables - that have been making big headlines in 2014, but all have yet to really make their mark.
Here, Cassiano Surek, technical director at London agency Digital Annexe, offers his five predictions on how some of the tech The Drum has written about in the last 12 months will move more towards the mainstream in 2015:
iBeacons have been all over the news this year as big brands like Tesco and Macy’s begin trialing the technology in their stores.
They are small Bluetooth transmitters which can be detected by mobile devices, and allow us to create hyper localised experiences which aren’t possible with GPS. They create a layer of digital context for the physical world, which will allow tracking of a user around a space and target location-based content straight to their device.
Our Prediction: iBeacons will move from trials to large-scale deployments in retail - and hopefully move from simple market pushes to in-store utility. They will become embedded in our living spaces as part of our ‘connected homes’, e.g. as we approach a beacon by our front door, the lights will turn on and the heating activate.
2. Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality, a technology not often seen outside of the movies and university labs, has exploded in the last 12 months. Oculus Rift is the game-changer that is looking to bring VR technology into our homes and workplaces with its low-cost, lightweight and robust headset. Google have also released Google Cardboard - a DIY Kit allowing you to turn your smartphone into a VR viewer.
The lower cost of VR hardware (e.g. gyroscopes) has put this technology into the reach of the mass market and Facebook’s two billion dollar purchase of Oculus is a significant indicator that we should expect to see VR content becoming something we will see much more of.
Our Prediction: Although Facebook has jumped headfirst into VR we expect to see more social networks arising with VR at the core of interaction. Its use for communication and telepresence could fundamentally change social interaction. Watch the Social space for some early movers like AltspaceVR.
Google Glass, Pebble, Jawbone Up, and now the iWatch. Wearable technology has exploded this year. Now that we are connected to the internet and all of its services in a very personal way, many opportunities have opened up to us. Our bodies are generating data we can exchange for value with the brands and products we love, incoming communications can be dealt with at a glance and a shake of the wrist and we can have the latest, contextual information literally in front of our eyes when we need it.
The challenge for brands will be how to design experiences which make sense on these devices, have utility and are timely and relevant. Just thinking about desktop and mobile will no longer be enough.
Our Prediction: iWatch will be a huge hit with the public, the timing is perfect. Google Glass will continue to struggle for acceptance in day to day use, but will become a more familiar site in the work place. Personal data as a commodity will become common place and we will be asked to exchange it for personalised/customised products and services.
4. Connected car
Manufacturers are already building connected systems into their vehicles to offer intelligent services to their drivers - cars that can get crowd-sourced traffic data or even call the emergency services when an accident occurs. The next phase has already begun as drivers ‘bring their own’ device into the vehicle and connect the cars systems to the internet. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are examples of these systems.
Our Prediction: Mobile apps will begin to appear which connect cars and their drivers to each other in new and interesting ways. Drivers will share information with each other, from road diversions to parking spaces. Car telematics will be used for more than simply monitoring the vehicle - the data will be used to help recommend your next vehicle, and manage your current one better.
5. Motion Control
Motion control, a method of interacting with computers using your body, gained some traction this year with products like MYO and Leap Motion. Although quite niche, they have both embraced developers early on which has gotten many involved in producing new and innovative ways of using them.
Leap Motion in particular has partnered with Oculus as a great way of bringing the users hands into the virtual world - and also with Hewlett Packard, who have integrated the technology with some of their laptops.
We have found it a very natural way to interact with 3D content on screen, or as a controller for a game - but using it for normal computing tasks can be quite difficult without practice!
Our Prediction: Motion control will continue to grow in popularity, but will need a really strong use case for most consumers to engage.
Cassiano Surek is technical director of Digital Annexe.