5. Apple MacBook Pro’s TouchBar

Apple’s introduction of Touch Bar and Touch ID features brings us one step closer to the future as this marks the end of function keys at the top of your keyboard.

Now we have virtual keys that have an embedded Touch ID fingerprint sensor allowing you log into your MacBook without having to type your password.

The customisable Touch Bar still allows you to control system settings such as brightness and volume, but the keys also change depending on what the laptop is being used for. For example, a search bar will appear if you are browsing the web on Safari. It also has predictive text, as on the iPhone, to make typing faster and there is a dedicated key for Siri. Nifty lil upgrade.

4. Android Pay Launch

On 6th December, Android Pay made its way to Ireland promising compatibility at thousands of retail locations throughout Ireland that accept contactless paymentThis concept is quite simple, all you have to do is add your credit/debit card details into the payment app and once the setup is complete you can forget about your wallet and go shopping using solely your phone to purchase items. The phone is held to a payment terminal and the transaction is made electronically.

Tap. Pay. Done. Next?

3. Live Streaming Video

Love it or hate it, this tech trend has taken off dramatically this year with heavier demand than ever to experience moments through someone else’s eyes rather than just seeing a retrospective update. Live streaming embedded in social media platforms is receiving more and more technological advancements as better compression and faster internet speeds allow for this trend to develop at an immense speed.

In 2014 Snapchat started working on their new innovative Live Stream Spectacle glasses (called Spectacles)  that do exactly what it says on the tin, stream live videos through the Snapchat app. Pretty nifty! They were finally released this year and are one of the most sought after products in the social media and digital marketing scene. Also not forgetting this live stream feature adapted by Facebook and Twitter alike. Our presence on social media is becoming inevitably authorial where the content we choose to send out allow us to be the ultimate directors of our show.

2. Bionic Revolution

This year marked a turning point for bionic technologies. Scientists are getting closer to creating a bionic human, or at least a $6 million one. Today, we can replicate or restore more organs and various body parts than ever.

In October the world’s first-ever Cybathlon, pitched as the Bionic Olympics, took place. Teams of scientists and paralyzed but augmented humans battled it out in six bionic disciplines during an Olympics-style science competition in Zurich, Switzerland.

Advanced technologies now use sensors that can be implemented like a brain chip, bypassing damaged nerves to stimulate the muscles of paralyzed arms, hands and fingers directly. This technique is called neuro-bridge technology giving us a glimpse into the future, bringing hope using recent advances in unique technologies to restore movement/functionality for those who have lost it.

1. AR / VR / MR

First of all let’s get rid of all this jargon that these fast paced technologies are so fond of since the beginning of time. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), and they are not the same thing.

The origins of these technologies date back to the 60’s, although the experiences were not necessarily those in name or exact format back then. Their roots lie in NASA projects, flight simulators for military training and early gaming experiences. So really these experiences are not as new as we think.

In a nutshell, Virtual Reality provides an experience in a computer generated world where the environment is replicated with computer simulation allowing the user to interact in that world.

A great example of the use of Virtual Reality is in the third season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror ‘Playtest’. This Twilight Zone-esque anthology needs no introduction as each episode dives deeper into various technological pursuits and possible consequences. In this episode we see the technology presenting an Augmented Reality that projects virtual objects over a real environment.

Quite similarly although on the other spectrum of emotional roller-coaster, Alton Towers present the world’s first Galactica, a cutting edge Virtual Reality roller-coaster where you can experience space through the most lifelike augmentation. The Virtual Reality footage is matched by the twists and loops you physically feel as the roller-coaster hurdles in real life. Much so like in the Mr. Bean movie where Rowan Atkinson tampers with the Ride of Doom scene, although released 10 years ago the experience of complete immersive Virtual Reality was much more basic than it is now.

Evidently 2016 was a thrilling year for technological innovations that solely focus on creating a seamless and convenient user experience. Of course these cutting edge ventures were in the works for years prior to their release and the growth only seems to escalate. Moving forward trend suggests apps dying away, reviews being written with your heartbeat and virtual reality being used as a painkiller. Overwhelming, I know, hard to wrap your head around such advancements and technological possibilities that are driving such momentous change in our daily lives. For one I need a cup of tea to digest it all, off I go to watch some cat videos.

– Gintare