As 2016 sets in the internet is inevitably littered with articles speculating on the 'disruptive trends' we will be in awe of at some stage of the year.
For any of you battle-hardened tech-heads this can be taken with a large ladle of salt, as there's nothing 'disruptive' about technology concepts and prototypes which we won't actually get to the market of the masses until in five years' time
So, why don't we look at the here and now? Skillsearch looks at the things you have probably heard of before, but will only get to see in full swing this year.
1) Virtual Reality
What an easy start! You cannot move on this internet thing without VR being thrown in your face, but the reality is that we will (finally) see several millions of premium headsets (meaning not Google Cardboard) sold by major consumer electronics companies that have invested billions of pounds to create market demand. Will the released and mooted price tags hinder VR's forecasted growth? Only time will tell...
2) 3D Printing's Inflection Point
We've all heard about the unbelievable capabilities of 3D printing, whether it's printed guns, prosthetic limbs or vital organs. The problem is that we all became so obsessed with the long-term capabilities that it all feels a bit complicated and inaccessible to us, the everyday consumer... Despite being told a 3D printer will be in every home by 2025!
More realistically the opportunity here (for those of us that aren't surgeons or rocket scientists) is the intellectual property you're creating. Plans for all manner of products, parts, and supplies will become available for download, similar to music files. The real business winners could be the designers who stand to earn royalties for each download, in the same way the IP owners of songs and movies do.
3) Live Streaming Gets Big(ger)
The race for the lion's share of this popular market will really sizzle as traction catches up with the hype of Live Streaming, promising to join video on demand (VOD) as a key area of focus for media companies both young and old. Twitch proved that there is a market there, so enter the heavy weights. Live social network YouNow raised $15 million in 2015, Meerkat announced a well documented $14 million in funding from big names in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, while Twitter acquired Periscope for an astonishing $100 million!
4) eSports Makes (More) Noise
eSports - already quietly massive - will be quiet no longer, as an increasing number of stadiums will overflow with stacks of teens cheering for their favourite 'e-Athletes' (don't blame me for that title, I didn't make it up)... And major brands will be fighting to sign them. With over 32 million people worldwide tuning in to watch the League of Legends world finals last year you can expect traditional sports and live event mega-players (AEG, Live Nation) to enter a digital sports community that is here to stay.
5) Internet of Things
It's a ridiculous term which isn't even accurate: the things do not create an Internet.
All 'IoT' means is networkability (mainly smartphone apps) used to communicate with household gadgets like dishwashers, lights, door locks, thermostats, and so on.
Thus far there's been a lot more hype in IoT than actual sales, but expect it to slowly rise. Samsung recently demonstrated a refrigerator with cameras inside, so that you can check to see what needs refilling next time you're out at Tesco… If that doesn't get you running to Dixons, what will?
6)Video (Games Continue to) Kill the Movie Star (and Everything Else)
The video game industry will continue its magnificent upward trajectory of popularity (not to mention a little respect) to out-pace and dwarf traditional media titles in terms of revenues due to VR and eSports rapid adoption.
See mum, I told you that computer games weren't a waste of time!
The icebergs melting! The death of the Royal Mail service! The end of the world!
It's ok to be optimistic. I recently read an article that referenced a widespread panic about the amount of horse manure accumulating on the streets of London. Apparently in 1894, the 'Times of London' estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure (bringing to mind a Jeff Goldblum line from Jurassic Park – anyone?). Also in the 1890's it was concluded that by 1930 the horse dung would rise to Manhattan's third-story windows!
What happened? The car appeared and made the horse manure problem go away overnight. We will hurt ourselves until we fix ourselves.
Much to learn we still have, young Padawans. And learn we will.
Happy New Year everybody, and here's to a great 2016!