With the pace at which consumer tech is moving forward, it's not hard to envision a future where our wildest science-fiction stories and dreams will become a reality. In many ways, the future is already here and it is hard to imagine that even a few decades ago not many could foresee a time with innovations and applications such as the internet, smartphones, DNA testing, fibre optics, GPS, biofuels and more becoming such a crucial component of our daily lives.
Virtual reality has recently seen large investments by tech mammoths such as Google, Sony, Facebook and HTC to create functional working concepts.
Recent advancements in the tech industry promise to revolutionize the future of consumer technology. While a few of these are still in their nascent phases, some are still being tested for their applicability, Needless to say, once their potential has been realized they can transform the consumer tech world to replicate or surpass the "iPhone Moment".
1. Leap Motion
It has long been said that the future of interactions between a human and computer will be multimodal, and Leap Motion, with its new Interaction Engine, aims to deliver the quintessential Minority Report experience we've been waiting for. Leap Motion is a hardware sensor that replaces the analogous input motions of a mouse with simple hand gestures and finger motions. With more than 200 apps dedicated towards enabling Leap Motion for consumers, expect the future of consumer tech to never require touching a computer screen or mouse again. They are also designing software for hand tracking in virtual reality (called Orion).
2. Smart Cars
Driverless cars seem to have been around for ages, but without actually being around. The future looks promising though, as autonomous cars that are centrally controlled can lower traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, fatal road accidents and also solve the growing pains of vehicle parking. The possibilities are endless and driverless cars can also become portable workstations and entertainment hubs to enable consumers to get more work done and consume more content, while on the move.
3. Virtual Reality
Another concept that has been touted for years and fuelled countless sci-fi dreams, VR has recently seen large investments by tech mammoths such as Google, Sony, Facebook and HTC to create functional working concepts. While it seems ideally suited for recreational and gaming purposes, VR has the potential to be a game-changer in definitive sectors such as education, engineering, architecture, healthcare and military as well. Futurists have long predicted a scenario where we may all lead second lives virtually without actually leaving our homes; the implications of this on society remain to be seen.
4. 3D Printing
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, enables computers to create objects that resemble just about any prototype, shape or geometry. Long predicted to bring about the advent of the third industrial revolution, 3D printing holds immense promise for the consumer tech space. By easily replicating spare parts, accessories and more with 3D printing, manufacturers can make gadgets cheaper for consumers and penetrate deeper markets. By reducing reliance on traditional manufacturing processes and by integrating rapidly advancing nanotechnology, 3D printing can transform the tech space and society to a scenario where new tech is not sold to people, but shared with them in an open-source format.
5. Consumer IoT
Digital transformation is all around us today, and it's fuelled by the omnipresent Internet of Things (IoT). With the rise of consumer wearables, smart homes, smart watches and more, the future of consumer tech is already here. The kind of data and insights that are available today have drastically changed the way we live, eat, work and travel. Just as file transfers, e-commerce and social networks have changed lives, consumer IoT is poised to make a massive impact in the consumer tech space thanks to better experiences, detailed engagement and improved control.
Moore's Law projects that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years, which then leads to mammoth jumps in the nature and amount of data that is processed by these building blocks. This observation is showcased at the biggest consumer tech shows from around the world, where previously unseen and unheard of technologies are implemented in gadgets that we use on a daily basis to make them that little bit faster, lighter and smarter. What may appear to be tiny and ignorable updates at first, in time become monumental shifters of the very way in which we interact with our consumer tech. The end result is a society that is more connected, mobile and futuristic than ever.