To say that the tech industry is growing at a rapid pace these days would be a bit of an understatement. In fact, it might be an outright misunderstanding of just how pervasive the tech industry, much less technology as a whole, has become. Reports indicate that tech-related jobs are increasing 31 percent faster than other high-growth sectors. More importantly, however, technology has become inextricably intertwined with just about every growing industry out there, even in more traditionally analog sectors. Kitchen appliances, for example, now have smart technology to allow communication across appliances and the ability to perform such advanced tasks as tracking the status of food being prepared or sitting in the refrigerator.
The sheer vastness of technology’s presence in today’s world is enough to make anyone’s head spin, even if you are keeping up with the news on a regular basis. Now that we’re well into 2016, though, it’s important to know where things are headed and what technological developments are poised to make waves in the coming months. With that in mind, here are five technology trends peaking in 2016.
Whether it’s smartwatches or fitness trackers, it’s no secret that wearable technology is having a moment right now. Wearable unit sales in 2016 have already nearly doubled the 2015 sales, and reports predict that the wearable tech market will triple in the next five years, from a total of 84 million units shipped in 2015 to an estimated 245 million devices in 2019. In financial terms, that’s a growth of $10 billion over five years, so the industry shows no signs of slowing down. The next big thing to garner headlines for wearable tech? Fashion-forward wearables. More and more big names in fashion are launching wearable devices, such as a fashionable ring that doubles as a fitness tracker, showing that this new trend isn’t just a fad, but is finding more and more ways to integrate organically into our daily lives.
The Internet of Things
What began as a way to get smart devices to communicate with one another—an iPhone (News - Alert) using Bluetooth technology to play music in your car, for example—has truly become a means to make the world a more efficient and safer place. The Internet of Things, a popular buzz term these days, now includes any device that uses technology to communicate with other related devices, and there are quite a few of those out there. In fact, some estimates suggest that there are upwards of 6.5 billion connected devices today. Yes, neat technological tools to improve your home life are hugely popular user-facing implementations of the IoT, but nowadays, even things like streetlights and bridges are getting the IoT treatment. The world of interconnected devices is just getting started.
As the world of technology grows, so too does the demand for top tech talent. Companies who previously had no foot in the technological world now find themselves with a need for expert developers, be it for a revamped website, an app, or help with automating processes as they look to scale their business. It can be hard to find an expert programmer right down the street, though, and many businesses don’t necessarily need to hire a full-time employee with programming expertise. Enter freelancers. Experts are predicting that nearly half of the entire workforce will be freelance by the year 2020, and elite talent networks like Toptal are providing quality assurance for a marketplace that can be otherwise wide-open and intimidating. If the growth of technology marks the globe’s increasing interconnectedness, then the growth of freelance tech talent in 2016 echoes that increasing interconnectedness in the workforce.
What was once a science fiction dream is now a very real commercial product. Virtual reality has grabbed major headlines in recent months, and 2016 promises to be the biggest year yet for VR, as the Oculus Rift, HTC (News - Alert) Vive, and PS VR are all set to become commercially available to consumers this year. Of course, much of the attention on virtual reality has focused on its ramifications for video games, but more and more uses for VR technology are being discovered and researched every day. For example, a new phenomenon known as virtual reality therapy, designed to help people suffering from depression, has many experts looking into the healthcare implementations for VR. All signs point to VR becoming a very prevalent technology as 2016 continues to progress.
In the first years of its existence, many people had some trouble verbalizing exactly what Bitcoin is, much less how the public ledger of Blockchain technology works. That misunderstanding is a thing of the past, though. More and more these days, Bitcoin is accepted as legal currency in many online stores, including the Microsoft (News - Alert) store. Even major financial institutions like the European Union are having discussions about the future of Bitcoin as a valid currency. As the price of Bitcoin continues to climb toward record highs, look for the remainder of 2016 to be a watershed moment for this online currency, as even more financial institutions discuss how to allow this growing technology to become an acceptable, regulated, and compliant form of exchanging funds.
What other tech trends have caught your interest in 2016? Are there any under-the-radar technologies you think will make a big splash in the latter half of this year? Leave a comment below!