1. Wearable Tech
While still reserved for “early adopters,” wearables — including smartwatches and smart glasses —will become the next battleground for gadget Goliaths like Samsung, Apple, Google and Microsoft. As the name suggests, wearables refers to the category of devices that you wear, as opposed to carry, to help you stay connected, informed and productive while on the go. Wrist-mounted smartwatches, for example, are super convenient as you can simply glance at information when you need it. Most serve as an extension of your nearby smartphone rather than a replacement for it. From fitness info, maps and custom watch faces to calls, texts and e-mails, smartwatches will be a big deal in 2015 — including the Apple Watch (from $349), to be released sometime this spring.
2. 3D Printing
2014 was already abuzz with the 3-D printing craze: in 2015, expect a drop in price for machines and plastic cartridges, faster speeds and more 3-D printer and 3-D scanner hybrids. Companies like 3D Systems, MakerBot, Sculpteo, XYZprinting and Mcor Technologies offer relatively inexpensive machines that let you create an object in the comfort of your own home. Crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are also abuzz about 3-D printers that could become the Next Big Thing. Commercially available 3-D printers now sell under $799 for certain models, allowing you to create a plastic object up to 8-inches cubed, in two colors, such as a coffee mug, smartphone case, action figure or cuff links. In the near future, you might be able to “e-mail” a 3-D object to a customer by sending them the blueprint to download immediately — which would avoid shipping charges and time waiting for the item to arrive.
Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE) refers to the fact all of our devices are beginning to talk to one another. Everything is connected, with sensors embedded in everyday items, and able to identify themselves to other devices. For example, as your “smart car” leaves the house, the house automatically registers this and subsequently turns off all appliances that were left on. The convenience of these talking devices will allow retailers to build “compatible” products and pocket huge sums of money.
4. 4K TV The Samsung 85″ S9 Series 9 Smart 3D UHD 4K LED TV – £34,999
4K televisions are capable of displaying a picture with four times the resolution of 1080p HD. That is, instead of about 2 million dots, or pixels, that makes up the image. 4K televisions are so lifelike you might think it’s a window rather than a TV, and it’s as close to 3-D you can get without needing special glasses. 2014 was the year Ultra HD 4K televisions became somewhat affordable (some well under $1,000) 2015 is when they will penetrate the market. Already, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Sony Video Unlimited and many more players will be rolling out 4K content this year. We will start seeing the first 4K Blu-ray discs arrive after the summer.
5. Virtual Reality Oculus Rift
Virtual Reality (VR) is already seen as the next generation of video games and Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift has electrified the field of virtual reality. On the other hand, Samsung and Google have shown how easy it can be to transform a smartphone into an immersive VR environment. With mobile cameras becoming more sophisticated and 3D imaging technology becoming more common, software makers will be lining up with ways for users to create their own VR experiences.
The Phantom 2 Vision drone by DJI.
Want better selfies? Get a drone. In 2014, the same technology that advanced smartphones — small chips and sensors — now applies to drones, making them smaller, cheaper and easier to make. In turn, because most drones rely on GoPro cameras to take their stunning panoramas and photos, expect GoPro to join the party. Richard Doherty, an analyst with Envisioneering Group, says, “Within three months, GoPro could become the No. 1 manufacturer of drones.”