Frog just released its predictions for Tech Trends of 2016

want to experience vr with an old school twist grab a view master from apples store mattel virtual reality starter pack
It’s hard to predict the future, but sometimes, the clairvoyance of certain experts can seem downright creepy. In 2014, experts with the design and strategy firm frog made a series of technology forecasts for the year, which included the rise in popularity of drones, augmented reality, and self-driving cars. And for 2015, frog thought that we’d see interest in 3D-printed technology and wearables. In the last two years, it would appear that frog has managed to hold its finger directly atop the pulse of the digital age, and now, for 2016, it has a new set of predictions that we probably want to pay attention to.

Drawing upon the expertise of its designers, engineers, strategists, artists, and business counselors, frog has put together a list of trends to watch for the New Year. And if they’re right, we’re in for a pretty exciting 2016.

First up is the resurgence of bitcoin and the expansion of Blockchain. According to Carlos Elena-Lenz, frog’s principal technology strategist, “Blockchain will mature beyond the enabling technology behind Bitcoin. Recent investments in the crypto-tech space will begin to bear fruit as initial application development platforms and use cases prove themselves in the market.” Noting that blockchain applications will soon extend beyond payments and enter the realms of healthcare, crowd-funding, finance, and even music, Elena-Lenz urges companies to “explore use cases by creating blockchain-enabled prototypes to understand the potential impact on their existing business.”

Another realm of existing technology that will go further than ever in 2016 is virtual and augmented reality, along with the seemingly ubiquitous related headsets. As the Oculus Rift, the Hololens, and more of these wearables become ever more available, Jud Holliday of frog says that “personal 3D gateways into an alternate shared experience will start to emerge.” More exciting still, says Holliday, viewers will be able to “virtually transport themselves to points in space around the world and interact with the people there.”

And while these interactions may initially be simple, Holliday believes that “the feeling of presence engenders a sense of empathy that they never felt watching video on a 2D screen.” This will have unprecedented effects on everything from refugee camps to war zone reporting, allowing the 21st century to be “more deeply connected to reality.”

As for the way 2016 will look, Charlie Burgoyne believes that “2016 and beyond will be known for ‘using data to design.'” Noting the weight modern companies place upon quantitative data, Burgoyne predicts that the retail industry in particular will be transformed by this new emphasis on information-driven design. “Data collation now enables a bidirectional relationship between retailers and their customers, yielding empirical metrics to corroborate subjective vision,” he says. And while online shopping experiences like Amazon often make recommendations to their shoppers, Burgoyne predicts that it will soon be “in places you wouldn’t expect, like a Nordstrom department store, which uses customer smartphones to track behavior and shopping habits.”

And as for the humanity of the future, Siddharta Lizcano predicts the rise of human connection and friendship as a service. Despite our claims of connectivity and down-to-the-minute updates on our thousands of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, there seems to be a distinct sense of loneliness (perhaps spurred by FOMO) that the millennial generation experiences more than those before us. Already, Lizcano points out, “In China you can rent a boyfriend to bring home during Chinese New Year from Taobao (the largest e-commerce service).” And just maybe, “the next untapped value source” really is monetizing relationships (no, it’s not called prostitution).

For more of frog’s fascinating predictions for 2016, head over to their TechTrends 2016 page. 

Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Product Review

Simple and reliable, Apple's AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds

Apple’s AirPods wireless headphones have dominated the market essentially since they hit stores in December 2016. Though not without some faults, they cracked the connectivity code to rank among the best fully wireless earbuds you can…
Business

4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers plan to beam Earth’s greatest hits into deep space, and you can help

A new project from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) will give the public the chance to submit compositions to be beamed into space, with the aim of connecting people around the world through music.
Emerging Tech

Scientists have a way to turn off alcoholism: Blasting the brain with lasers

Researchers from Scripps Research have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the desire to drink in alcohol-dependent rats by targeting a part of the brain using lasers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.