Technology trends for 2016

Technology is now omnipresent in our lives, with the invention of smartphones and Internet; there is a constant connection between individuals and their connected devices. These technologies have changed the way we communicate, work and live and this is just the beginning of this process. In fact technology is evolving very quickly and each year new technologies enter the market. These new trends are developed by big companies but also by start-ups, which are innovative and creating new products, ways to connect and architectures which make devices faster and more effective.

Virtual and augmented reality:

The first thing we have to speak about here is the Virtual and augmented reality. You probably have heard of Google cardboard, which became popular in 2015, a little system that enables you to watch a video on your smartphone in Virtual reality. The device is composed of your smartphone screen, two projections of the video you are watching and lenses between your eyes and the screen; with this system you can watch the video as if you were in it. Now virtual reality headsets are becoming a well-developed product and a lot of companies are now developing their own headset. Here we can mention the most known ones: the oculus rift, the PlayStation VR or the HTC vive.

VR is not the only way to project ourselves in a virtual world. In 2015 Google launched the Google glasses that enable you to have information directly within your vision, through glasses. Microsoft pushed the concept further with the HoloLens. This device allows you to see holograms in augmented reality, it means you see the real world through the helmet and the holograms appear in addition to your vision.

m1Image Source: The Microsoft HoloLens.

Artificial intelligence:

Artificial Intelligence or AI is also a trend that companies are trying to develop. Siri from Apple and other vocal phone helpers are examples of AI. They are able to answer your vocal questions and collect the data from your phone/PC to make suggestions to the user. There are also applications that use this process like “google now” that collects all your data and research on the internet to provide you with adapted news and insights. In addition Microsoft launched a bot (program that you can talk with) on the Chinese market. This program was used on a phone application and even on a live weather report by a voice replacing the weather staff. The TV presenter can ask questions on the program and get fast answers, in addition the bot stores the conversation and can use it in future interactions with the user. The bot is configured to be able to change its future behavior; this is called the “advanced machine learning”.

Drones and smart cars:

Drones are not everywhere yet, but we can say that this is an important trend to be aware of. They are mostly small flying devices that people can pilot from their smartphones. They are really useful to people who are working in difficult situations to check bridges or tall buildings. They are also used in security, by the police and in movies replacing classic choppers for aerial views. The public use of these devices is strictly regulated and you need authorization to use a drone but it may replace your habits in photo and video taking. It is useful to mention the Lily drone, an automatic pilot drone that follows you with a tracker to take aerial videos and photos.

Drones are not the only automatic driving devices on the market; it’s now a known fact that companies are developing self-driving cars. The car project of Google in California and Nevada and Elon Musk’s enabled the company to do 700 000 miles without crashing and Tesla already launched their automatic pilot into their car models. This is a promising sector for these companies, even if an accident occurred recently for Tesla.

3D printers:

3D printers are actually revolutionizing the way we are making objects. With complicated design, it’s really hard to build something by hand or from classic machines because it requires a lot of precision. With these printers, the objects are now built in layers. You simply use modeling software to create your object in 3D, and the printers will depose a heated material (it can be plastic or many other materials) that will cool layer by layer. The process can be used for a lot of things, like complicated car pieces, body parts or even houses, as it is the case in China.

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Device mesh:

Networks are also evolving. The concept of the device mesh is one of these new trends. This network (local area network (LAN), wireless area network (WAN) or virtual (LAN)), corresponds to a full mesh or partial mesh typology. In the Full mesh typology, all the devices (phones, computers etc) are connected to each other. In the partial mesh typology, each device is connected to another one but some of them are connected with a device by another one between them.

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Figure 1      

m4Figure 2

The figure 1) shows the connection of the devices in the full mesh typology and the figure 2) shows the partial mesh typology. 

The mesh network is expected to be an important part of the Internet because the devices can communicate directly to each other without passing by a router with an Internet connection.

With the digital mesh came another trend, information on everything. All the information coming from the device mesh (articles, videos etc.) is going simultaneously to devices.
Example: An article posted on phone, tablet, computer etc. Before this information was provided on one support after another, all disconnected from each other. Here information is part of the environment of the user, on all of the different devices s/he uses. The information appears at the right time, right place and on the right device. So the content is served to the user as if it comes from the air (ambient user experience).

 The New IT reality:

New trends like the digital mesh mean a new way of organizing networks and architectures. Architecture is the way the components of any electronic device are gathered to make the whole device work. For example the graphic card is connected to the motherboard to make the device work. To take an easier example we can take a car, the engine is placed and designed in a specific way so the car is running correctly, but the engine can be designed and placed for example, at the back of the car instead of the front, and represent an alternative architecture. The complexity of the digital industry and the hacker industry represent a real threat for organizations, so the IT leaders must concentrate on ways to avoid these threats and prevent the attacks. A solution to that is to create adaptive security architecture, and this is a new opportunity for security companies in IT.

The Digital mesh also requires effective computing architecture to make them viable for the companies. This is a new trend appearing in terms of architecture. To be effective the architectures are based from the neuromorphic architecture. The neuromorphic architecture is a concept developed by Carver Mead in the late 80’s. This is the use of systems containing analog circuits similar to the neuro-biological architecture present in the nervous system. The system usually based on GPU (Graphic processor Unit) and FPGAs (Field program Gate array) will be more based like human brain architecture enabling characteristics like deep learning and other characteristics smart machines use that are characteristics of the AI.

As already mentioned; more applications are made to work together in the digital mesh, so those applications also need an adapted architecture to work and communicate with each other and share information. This architecture also has to be flexible to respond to the rapid evolution of user requirements (Mesh app and service architecture).

Internet of things architectures and platforms:

            The Internet is the connection of the electronics device to a network. When you switch on a device connected to network, it becomes an element of the IoT and is communicating with other devices. Those endpoints (devices connected to internet) are phones, tablets, cars, doors, windows; pretty much everything that is electronic. The connection is made with low frequency waves covering countries like telephonic network. By 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices to the IoT. At present the French company Sigfox installing a network for connected objects into Europe and USA.

Mathieu Le Dauphin 

Edited by: Freya Eley

International Trade Associates

World Trade Centre Dublin