It has been utterly amazing what gadgets have been brought to market and into our homes. Below are the top five gadgets that will change your life in 2015.
In my youth, I had dreamed of one day hearing the iconic phrase “…calling Dick Tracy…calling Dick Tracy…” from my very own two-way radio perched on my wrist. Over the years, I have seen numerous attempts to place this functionality on the wrist, and it has been somewhat hit or miss. However, the one effort that may hold the most promise is the Apple Watch. It will be available for purchase in Spring 2015. It comes in several styles and colors. Some of its key features include: the ability to take phone calls and iMessages/texts; Siri (virtual assistant); heart rate sensor (track health metrics); Apple Pay (making purchase by placing watch in close proximity to point of sale register); and GPS and Apple Maps. While there certainly are competitive products currently available from others such as Fossil and Samsung, Apple may just be able to dominate the wearables technology market like its other products (iPhone and iPads) have done in their respective markets. One thing that Apple Watch definitely has going for it, is Apple Pay. This is Apple’s easy and secure virtual wallet and in its first few months after being announced at Apple’s special event in October 2014, has taken the virtual wallet segment by storm. It launched with an impressive amount of banks and vendors who supported and accepted it. Apple Pay has enjoyed increasing popularity due to its incredible ease of use and setup. If Apple pulls it off, it will definitely change how we interact with the world around us.
Google’s Project Ara
Despite the unassuming name, this has the potential to truly change the way in which we consume mobile telecommunications devices. Google has undertaken this project to bring to market a mobile phone that is completely modular and can be customized to the user’s tastes. Presently, you may purchase a mobile phone for a particular feature, let’s say camera quality, but other options like LTE radio and increased storage are not available for purchase within your price point. With Project Ara, you will be able to customize each feature of the phone or even buy only the modules that you want or need, so that you as the end-user are able to have exactly what you want and not pay for the options or features you don’t. What I found particularly appealing about the modules is that they are end-user friendly, so that a non-tech person should be able to add and remove modules with ease. Assuming that the initial Project Ara devices are highly received when launched later in 2015, traditional telecommunication device manufacturers will be forced to take notice and perhaps adjust their manufacturing processes according. This would result in better utilization of the resources and raw materials used to create these consumable electronics products.
Virtual Reality Technology
When Facebook brought Oculus Rift for $2 billion in July 2014, the question was…why? Prior to public knowledge of the acquisition, virtual/augmented reality technology was thought of mostly as not entirely important. However, it has become an exploding market that has endless potential. Not only can virtual reality technology be used for more immersive and realistic gaming worlds and environments, but it can also be used for the creation of near realistic training environments with reduced physical cost. The U.S. Army has used virtual reality to train soldiers on how to engage combatants, all without wasting a bullet. It appears that the Oculus acquisition has prompted other virtual reality headset makers to get into the market, which has resulted in more consumer options like Google Glass. While it has been available prior to 2015, it will be receiving new hardware this year that will not only allow it to remain powered for longer periods of time, but to be clipped on to regular glasses, and have a reduced overall cost to the consumer.
In 1908, Ford’s Model-T was considered state of the art. However, I am sure that it was not envisioned that in 2015 there would be talk of putting driverless cars on the road. Vehicles, such as the Ford Focus, have been able to automatically parallel park themselves for at least a year or two, or even automatically apply brakes in certain situations. Based on the results of driverless vehicle projects by Google, Mercedes, and Volvo, California will begin putting driverless vehicles on its roads later this year. While some practical issues still need to be addressed, having driverless vehicles on the roadways will herald a new era in automotive history. Just imagine being able to drive your vehicle without actually driving – designated driver not a problem. Road trips would mimic the comfort and convenience of train travel without the horrible delays.
FCC Approves Higher Broadband Minimum
On January 29, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission approved a change to the definition of broadband to mean a minimum download speed of 25MBs per second. This is up from four MBs per second, and means that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can no longer advertise that they offer “high speed internet” if the speed is not at least 25 MBs per second. End-users will be better equipped to deal with and handle the breadth of data that has been commonplace in modern internet usage. Gaming, surfing the internet, live streaming will be better.