2017 promises to be an exciting and amazing year for digital technology. From immersive virtual reality and augmented reality, seismic gaming consoles to foldable Samsung smartphones to replace the disgraced Note 7 devices. 2017 holds exciting and nerve wrecking technologies for both enterprise and consumers. This article highlights some of the technologies that will be taking our breaths and make our lives more convenient.
ICT will continue to lead and disrupt the conventional way of doing business in 2017
The most exciting technology in 2016 was virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), driven by the sensation of Pokemon Go, a mobile game that leveraged on AR to bring monsters to life in a real environment. Though the popularity of Pokemon Go has worn off, AR will be one of the emerging technologies to look out for in 2017. This year we will see a lot of new games tapping on the power of mixed realities to provide different immersive perspectives.
Though the growth of VR has been slow and VR handsets have not become widely adopted in all homes, VR is projected to rapidly grow in 2017. Unlike AR, which places virtual objects in the real environment, VR takes a person into a computer simulated environment or imaginary world and allows the user to interact with that world. Virtual reality creates an immersive experience that makes VR headsets the tool of choice for gaming and entertainment. However, VR has potential beyond entertainment, as it can also be applied in education, mechanical engineering and many other fields.
Recently, we have seen major interest in VR from giants such as Samsung and Facebook with Samsung gear VR and Oculus Rift respectively. Though affordable, these devices cannot be used by all because they only support expensive mobile devices such as Samsung note, S6 and other high-end mobile phones. Thus, developers are opting for cheaper option such as Google cardboard, which can be adjusted to support cheaper devices such the Huawei P8.
Another technology that is going to excite and wow in 2017 is wearable, which has advanced over the last few years. It is capable of measuring our health, tracking our movement and potentially it will revolutionise health monitoring. If you are a biker or someone who walks/workout more than 5 KM daily, it’s only natural that you are curious or would like to know how your walk or workout affects your body; for example how many calories you burn? How high is your pulse rate? Moreover, if you like your sleep, wearable gadgets can also help monitor your sleep, which can help you sleep better every time.
But one critical question which we should raise about these wearable is, how accurate is this information I get about my body? The assurance from the vendors such as Apple, Microsoft and Samsung is that the data we get from wearables are accurate.
However, more than just accuracy, I think the biggest win for wearable is in the fact that they give you as a user control over your health by making it easy for you to collect and analyse health data, which has been previously left unmonitored. Embedded with many accurate sensors such as optical sensor to measure heart rate and bio-impedance sensors and several electrodes to measure your skin’s resistance to a small amount of electrical current, wearable technology are ready to measure our daily routines and have the potential to become digital medical tools.
“We’re at an inflection point, or transition, from lifestyle health stuff to medical metrics,” says cardiologist Eric Topol, a genomics professor at the Scripps Research Institute and a fan of digital health technology. To Topol, the objective is clear: devices that accurately measure vital body signs and even monitor serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease. “It’s the medical metrics where accuracy becomes fundamental,” he says.
I think the biggest disruption that will be caused by ICT in 2017 will be in the service sector. World over, we are going to see more commuters opting for Uber instead of the conventional Taxis, further disrupting and fuelling more anger in the Taxi industry. We are also going to see a slow growth in the hospitality industry, with travellers choosing more convenient and cheaper alternatives such as airbnb. 2017 promises to be a year for techno-preneurs, so we are going to see a lot of young entrepreneurs using technology to come up with creative new solutions that will change how businesses operate and alleviate our social challenges.
Technology has always been on the go, rapidly evolving, leaving many of us behind, and 2017 will be no exception.
*Lameck Mbangula Amugongo is country Ambassador of 1 Billion Africa in Namibia. He holds B.IT: Software Engineering, B.Hons: Software Development (Cum Laude) and currently pursuing MSc.Computer Science