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. 

Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Gaming

These awesome free-to-play games might be even better than the ones you paid for

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

SpaceX experiences problem during test, Crew Dragon capsule may have exploded

SpaceX has experienced a problem during the testing of its Crew Dragon capsule. During the engine test firing at Cape Canaveral yesterday afternoon, an unspecified anomaly occurred which lead to plumes of smoke rising from the test site.
Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Beresheet crash caused by manual command, but reflector device may have survived

Details are emerging about what may have gone wrong with spacecraft Beresheet's failed moon landing. A manual command was entered which led to a chain reaction. But NASA still hopes to salvage use of its Laser Retroreflector Array device.
Emerging Tech

The oldest type of molecule in the universe has been located at last

A milestone in the development of the early universe was the combination of helium and hydrogen atoms into a molecule called helium hydride. But strangely enough, this ancient molecule has never been detected in space before now.
Emerging Tech

Mercury’s wobble as it spins reveals that it has an inner solid core

Scientists have long wondered what the inside of Mercury looks like, and they now have strong evidence that the planet has a large and solid metallic core. The data for the new findings was collected by the now-defunct MESSENGER mission.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.