Following on from our predictions piece, piece, the team assembled to discuss some of the themes and look at what else we can expect to see this year, especially following the announcements from CES.
In 2015, gadgets are back on the agenda. That was the resounding message to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show last week, judging by the number of devices designed to connect with a smartphone, such as drones, plant feeders, connected fridges, selfie sticks and self-parking cars.
2015 has also started by demonstrating the continued rise of digital goods and services. Apple announced that within the first week of 2015, nearly half a billion dollars (or almost £330 million) was generated through the purchase of apps and in-store app purchases. At the same time, Spotify has just announced that it has 15 million paid subscribers across the world.
Wearables on your face, on your wrist – everywhere
Throughout the past year we’ve seen wearables of all shapes and sizes come to market, in the form of medical instruments, fitness trackers and an ever expanding array of smartwatches to help provide glanceable information.
This is set to continue in 2015 with more applications for technology making their way into everyday consumables and clothing, such as the launch of the Vessyl smartcup, Apple Watch and the prospect of the second version of Google Glass .
Extending functionality, to take advantage of the true potential of wearables rather than as a gimmick, will show their true potential, helping to show the value they can bring to users. One example of this is with the Microsoft’s Cities Unlocked, designed to help blind people navigate around cities. The system works by users wearing a bone-conducting headset, without blocking out external sounds, and utilises location aware technology, such as GPS and beacons, to provide navigation and proximity awareness or alerts about buses.
As adoption increases, with wearables becoming more affordable, the potential of wearable devices will become more prevalent especially in the enterprise space.
The Year of Data overload
In 2010, Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google announced that every two days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. Two years later, IBM unveiled that 90% of all the data in the world was created in the last two years (with likely a large amount of the remaining 10% being created between 2003 and 2010).
With wearable devices, smarter cars and an increase in the number of connected devices such as thermostats, kettles, pet trackers and more; data is exploding faster than many companies or people know how to deal with.
With more data sources, the challenge for the user will be to filter out what is important to them. This year, there will be a greater focus on how to present and simplify data across the different devices people will use and in a way that delivers value, rather than distraction.
On many apps at current, filtering in already happening in the background to allow them to learn about its user’s behaviour. However smarter filtering will need to be implemented to distinguish what is and isn’t important. Some systems, such as IBM Watson, discussed in the predictions piece, could come into play here.
With great data comes great responsibility. Users will need to know that their data is protected and that it delivers them value, rather than a faceless organisation using their data to try to sell more products to them.
CES was awash with connected products of all shapes and sizes. Samsung alone announced a new $100 million fund to help advance the Internet of Things and made commitments toward openness and innovation. Last year, the company acquired SmartThings which now appears to be at the centre of its IoT strategy.
Elsewhere on the show floor, there were hundreds of products designed to work with Apple’s HomeKit, due for release soon, to create smarter homes. As previously mentioned, with the rise of connected items, it seems that the role of apps is only increasing, as they can offer greater security benefits when pairing with other connected objects.
Flat screens are so 2013. At least, that’s what technology companies want us to think. Over 2014, we saw an increase in the number of curved displays seen on both TVs and mobile devices. Samsung unveiled the Note Edge, with a curved screen at the side to provide extra context. LG also unveiled a bendy phone last year, and two new types of phones this year, one which bends and flexes, whilst the other has curved bezels.
Many wearable devices, such as the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R, feature round screens. Not only are there more screen types than ever to think about, but screens are also getting both smaller (smartwatches) and bigger (virtually every smartphone). Understanding the role of each device and how a user may want to utilise their smartwatch, phone or tablet is key to delivering a cohesive user experience.
Here at Mubaloo, there are a range of different products and innovations that, as technology lovers, we can’t wait to see. Some examples include:
High Dynamic Range in screens, not just for photography:
Hannah Tempest, Creative Director:
“At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, there were a lot of TVs and computer screens that used HDR colours as standard. The image clarity and richness of HDR has not been seen on TVs before and it’s only a matter of time before mobile devices start taking advantage of this as well. This may offer us the chance to create more subtle UIs as the clarity of colour is clearer. It may also encourage even more image based interfaces using photography and video as the star of the app.”
Screen technology – lower power, more flexible
Ryan French – Senior Web Developer
“Flexible displays will become increasingly mainstream. Sony has already showcased a watch that features its e-paper technology that wraps around the entire watch. This provides users with the ability to change the appearance of the strap, without actually changing the strap. This technology will benefit from low power consumption, helping devices to last longer without charge.
Flexible OLED screens are another example, which would be suitable for use in high-tech wearables and displays integrated into clothing, cars and other devices where colour is required.”