Back in the day, we were buried in our card catalogs at the library. Even when the concept of the Internet was announced, it was hard to wrap our brains around. Few people could imagine touch screens or smart phones. Today, we can’t imagine life without them. We may even find ourselves taking them for granted.
The wonderful thing about technology is that it moves forward like a juggernaut, getting more and more advanced with each year. This year, several technologies progressed from drawing boards and geek curiosities to real-life inventions that changed the way people live and work. Here are some examples of the best of the year’s tech advancements:
It was the stuff of science fiction literature and fantasy movies for decades. Our introduction to AI came by way of Apple’s Siri in 2011, integrated with the year’s iteration of the iPhone. This year, a lot of tech companies have their own voice assistants – Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa. These assistants have evolved into smart homes and office-based listening assistants. It seems this technology is boundless and limitless.
Even as many of us are still in awe of the concept of smart homes, we now have smart objects – everyday products that have built-in connectivity and data-gathering capabilities. Through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the objects connect directly to our smartphones. There are fridges that tweet, Wi-Fi light switches, and more. The objects may look dumb, but now they appear to “think.” Smart objects help us improve our quality of life, be more efficient with our time, and have more information at our fingertips.
The concept of robotics is an old one, dating back to early science fiction movies. Now we have the real thing. Robots are extensively used in manufacturing and other areas of production. Family or personal robots may be just around the corner. Jibo, the social robot created by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, is not yet commercially available but now has a working prototype. Softbank’s Pepper is a helper robot that debuted in Japan in June, selling out right after its release.
These are just a few exciting developments from 2016. As tech gets bigger and better by the day, keep your eyes open in 2017 and beyond for more wonders.