2015 – the year Marty McFly flies to in Back to the Future – is officially here. Although consumer hoverboards and self-lacing sneakers aren’t quite within reach yet, what else might this year, the most futuristic of years as imagined in the 80s, actually yield? We asked our in-house INITION experts where they see key areas of tech heading in 2015 and what they think the top tech trends for the year will be.
Despite January not yet being over, the year has already seen several exciting developments and unveilings, with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) leading the pack following an uber successful event during which guests were offered a glimpse into the future with some of the most cutting-edge consumer technology currently in development, or nearing availability.
We’ve consulted our crystal balls (and drawn on all the biggest news stories of the year so far) to predict what will make it big in emerging tech this year.
Despite Google Glass suffering a relatively lukewarm reception following its debut in 2013 before subsequently shelving the project altogether, hope for large-scale adoption of augmented reality wearables hasn’t completely disappeared from the tech radar. It’s more likely, if the offerings at CES are any indication, that the technology has realigned its primary focus to applications within alternative sectors, potentially shifting away from ‘everyday use’.
Two prototypes in particular stole the spotlight; a pair of smart glasses from Osterhout Design Group, featuring 3D stereoscopic display, depth camera, RGB camera, microphone and stereo sound and the developer version of Epson’s Moverio BT-200 Smart Glasses – both of which came with a number of impressive demos from developers.
However, with the much-hyped Magic Leap still teasing us with hints of its mysterious technology and Microsoft releasing their own – impressive, by the sounds of it – AR HMD prototype called the HoloLens, the future of Glass-esque AR wearables might yet surprise us.
INITION’s Senior 3D Creative, Alex Lambert, says:
I think Google Glass was more of an experiment but with the aforementioned prototypes from CES and the mysterious, Google-backed Magic Leap AR set to shake things up, we should really start to see consumer augmented reality come together in 2015.
Much has been said about 2015 being the ‘Year of Virtual Reality’, though many claim the technology is still very much in its infancy. So, what does that actually mean for VR’s immediate future? Oculus VR continue to side-step repeated questions requesting a release date for the first consumer-ready Rift, instead remaining tight-lipped until such a time that the headset reaches a high enough standard to avoid ‘poisoning the VR well’.
Elsewhere – startups and stalwarts alike – are quickly jumping on the VR bandwagon with news of new headsets hitting the press almost weekly. Equally as exciting however are the virtual reality-enabled accessories – with Sixense’s motion controlling ‘lightsabres’ winning the Verge’s Best of VR at CES.
One of INITION’s Producers, Katie Grayson, says:
Within the VR space, I think we’ll see an exponential growth in 360 degree live action projects – for everything from marketing, live music and sporting events to immersive journalism and drama.
The technology used to film in 360 is rapidly developing, and has already seen Vice magazine’s immersive news coverage of the US Millions March, Edward Miller’s filming of the Hong Kong protests, an explosion of VR at the Sundance Film Festival and the launch of Chris Milk’s production company in January alone – as more directors start experimenting with the form, we’ll see much more of this in the coming year.
Commercially, as we move through 2015 I think we’ll see VR integrating into the trans media landscape as a brand new platform to tell new stories and give audiences new perspectives on existing IPs, offering exciting, immersive content that supplements existing brands and properties, and fully establishing VR as a new viable platform for compelling content. Hopefully this means that more time and energy will be invested into creating consumer experiences that are as narratively and emotionally engaging as they are technically complex, as we understand more about the power of presence that VR delivers so convincingly.
As marketers and media owners take advantage of the growth of mobile VR, we’ll see industries such as travel, entertainment and automotive be the biggest developers of VR-enabled content which, as the technology continues to develop and improve, will allow creative boundaries to be pushed even further.
Following an almost explosive growth last year, 2015 is shaping up to be somewhat quieter for 3D printing as the field looks less likely to yield the same number of exciting product launches. Leaders are instead opting to explore a greater breadth of technological and practical applications – from new filaments, to printing in space – that will shift the technology more towards innovative solutions than huge product developments.
As MakerBot’s VP of Product, Anthony Moschella, told the Verge rather succinctly at CES – “This year, at least for MakerBot, we’re kind of turning a corner and really thinking more about solutions and applications — not the what but the why.”
INITION’s 3D Technology Consultant, Jay Short, says:
2014 was an interesting year for 3D printing. The public became more aware of the technology through continued focus in the consumer press and rarely would a day go by when some amazing use of 3D printing was not documented.
In 2015, the move towards making 3D printing an efficient production tool will continue as the big players in the industry – 3D Systems and Stratasys – realign themselves to meet the growing commercial appetite to integrate 3D printing into their business models beyond purely being a tool for prototyping. At the same time as more creative minds learn about the capabilities of the technology, we will see more exciting cultural projects that harness 3D printing as a means of artistic expression.
After an impressive debut at 2014’s CES, 4K TVs look set to continue their ascent to the top of the ‘most desired’ list (with predictions that 4K TV’s will likely be in ‘10 per cent of US households by the end of 2018’), though, alongside the advent of the consumer-popular curved TVs, what else is on the horizon for future displays?
INITION’s Allan Rankin, 3D Technology Consultant, says:
I think we’re going to see a growth in popularity of large-format 4K displays with touch functionality – like the MultiTaction iWall, or the 84” Planar Ultra-Res Series Display – both of which combine the hi-res clarity of the 4K with the practicality of the touch elements, making them the perfect product for data collaboration, client facing interactive content or retail POS.