As 2014 comes to a close, many have been considering the biggest trends of the year (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30591570), and the relative amount of progress we have made in using technology to improve people’s lives. We have seen the continuation of the digitisation and automation trends, with a healthy dose of personal technology grabbing the headlines for the right and wrong reasons (Google Glass has been a huge flop). In a years time, what are the trends we will be reflecting on? Here are the top three game changers in the next 12 months:
1) Revolution in Payments
Typing in a PIN code is going to seem like a very cumbersome and unsafe process within the next five years. Many companies are looking to change the way we interact at the checkout: Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has just set up Square to allow SMEs to accept cards, whilst Apple are still tweaking their pay system to draw yet another function into the Apple eco-system. Both of these are a natural continuation of the rise of contactless payment over the past 24 months, and we may see even more radical solutions to improve security and speed of payment: take a look at PwC’s World in Beta campaign, envisioning iris recognition payments.
2) Wearable Tech Take Off
This year saw the big hitters come to the wearable tech market – Samsung were first to release a smart watch, closely followed by Apple and a host of other mobile phone producers. However, none of these have really taken off as it is widely accepted that the concept is still a little flawed; the new watches offer little extra in terms of functionality and performance, and come at a hefty price. 2015 could well be the year that the concept is refined and there is an explosion of purchases from the mass market. Meanwhile, fitness trackers and devices continue to go from strength to strength, and in 2014 companies like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband began to take large bites into the mass market. Expect this trend to continue in 2015.
3) Fundamental change in Manufacturing
2014 has seen a large increase in the availability of 3D printers, and a huge decrease in their cost. There has been stories of 10 houses being built in a day by 3D printers, whilst the International Space Station is using them to create new parts. 2015 could see the first non-specialist use of the equipment in commercial manufacturing. 3D printers offer complete flexiblity for manufacturers, who can begin and finish product runs within minutes without huge sunk costs of specialist equipment. It also offers greater opportunity for personalisation and consumer-driven products. 3D printers could revolutionise manufacturing as the internet changed retail.
All three of these trends could have a significant effect on the direction of the economy. Only time will tell to what extent they occur and the impact they will have.
Happy New Year everyone!