The Next Silicon Valley

Tech trends 2016: embedded features transforming lifestyles and enterprise

Image courtesy of Gartner

Technology is continuing to transform the lives of many people, with embedded features blurring set category lines and platforms meshing to become interoperable. According to analyst firm ABI Research, mobile will not be the center of the world, and as we drive forward, technology will focus on enhancing lifestyles rather than creating new behaviors.

This all marks a profound period of change within the consumer technology market—a change destined to directly impact our technological future. Following CES 2016, the consumer technology event that took place in Las Vegas in January, the research firm’s team of analysts conducted an in-depth, post-show investigation to recount which transformative tech trends were dominant and explore how vendors can successfully implement those innovations in the months ahead.

This week, technology investment bank, GP Bullhound also gave its opinions on the top technology trends for 2016, based on its own analysis of investment and acquisition activity and insights provided by its international team. The report touches upon a wide range of topics across the technology landscape.

Alec Dafferner, Partner of GP Bullhound, commented: “Investment activity across the global technology landscape continued to increase in 2015, defined by $624 billion in aggregate M&A activity, the highest annual level in history.” He added, “Technology advances at a rapid rate and 2016 will see sectors rise and fall. Virtual reality, connected devices and enterprise mobility are all being driven by high profile product releases and growing consumer penetration. However, drones, cybersecurity and even tech unicorns will come under increasing pressure to justify their hype.”

Here we present a quick summary of the analysis of both the analyst ABI Research and investment bank GP Bullhound on the top trends in 2016. To see the full details, visit the links indicated for each one.

ABI Research: Innovation meets implementation

Here are the findings of ABI Research’s team of analysts, broken down by key categories:

360° Video: is evident in new cameras, software, image stitching technology, and most impressively, live 360° feeds that do not require any stitching. More predominant than VR display hardware, video content is receiving heavy investment and will begin to gain momentum, with Jaunt VR poised to be the leading on-demand content platform.

Virtual and augmented reality (AR): AR in automotive will be a strong vertical alongside industrial and healthcare. This was evident at CES 2016 with Hyundai’s AR owner’s manual, BMW’s AR motorcycle helmet. Additionally, low-cost VR, like Google Cardboard, will see strong growth in 2016, as its content shows good momentum within both the premium and user-generated markets.

Healthcare and fitness: connectivity will be built into more wearable form factors and will all tout collecting activity data as a primary application. As seen from Samsung, MC10 and L’Oréal, adhesive and disposable patches are emerging, as are disposable Bluetooth patches for medical applications.  A number of medical/data analytics partnerships emerging, including IBM from CTA, Pathway Genomics, Under Armour, and Medtronic.

Wearables: longer battery life will improve consumer experiences. Withings achieved a battery life of 8 months on multiple products, and Huawei Mate 8 touted a 2.36 day battery life (‘the longest battery life of any smartphone’) with a 30-minute quick charging. Battery life and charging speeds may gain further press attention this year if the rumor concerning the iPhone 7’s wireless charging feature pans out to be true.

Connectivity: universal docking with USB 3.0/Thunderbolt/WiGig/wireless charging; multi-factor authentication using mobile devices; and connected conference rooms with telepresence and better end-node IT management all held a strong show presence.

Automotive: an abundance of personal, virtual in-vehicle assistants based on natural language conversation and AI. Cockpit displays boasted impressive new features, such as curved OLED clusters (Visteon), AirTouch contactless touchscreens (BMW), moving infotainment content between displays via swipe (Continental), and haptic touchscreen feedback (Bosch). A surge of real-time, digital map generation via big vehicle data crowdsourcing made evident by Toyota, Mobileye & GM/VW, HERE, Harman, and TomTom’s announcements.

Smart home: expect a vertical integration of wearables within smart home devices, as seen with Misfit Specter headphones integration with Misfit smart lighting. The concept of a low-cost, managed subscription network security for smart homes was introduced, and there was a noticeable surge in multi-functionality with single connected devices. Samsung launched Smart TV as a home gateway into home devices, and several system partnerships with Amazon Echo evidenced the concept of voice control for smart homes.

TV: HDR was the obvious focus for CE/TV manufacturers. ST announced that it will have a single chip solution to support the proposed standards. OLED could see additional growth this year, with LG, Changhong, Konka, and Panasonic all showing OLED TVs at the show. Overall, it seems TV manufacturers are looking for the ‘next big thing’ to drive excitement.

To read the full ABI Research outlook, click here.

GP Bullhound top 10 predictions

  1. Virtual reality becomes reality: gaming and media will gain quickest traction, but VR still needs to develop a ‘must have’ factor to become truly mass market.
  2. ‘Quantified Self’ transitions from niche to mainstream: the general ethos and benefits of tracking one’s well-being is beginning to resonate with a mass consumer audience, so digital fitness and wearables will be further woven into mainstream fashion.
  3. Automobile industry ripe for innovation: auto companies are trying and failing to resist the tech intrusion into their vehicles, but those who embrace it are reaping the rewards.
  4. Alternative lending continues to shine brightly in fintech sector: the popularity of these new platforms will increase through word-of-mouth from satisfied users and volume of loans processed will continue to grow rapidly in a space that has long been ripe for innovation.
  5. Gaming giants fortify positions in top grossing charts: the trend of larger players acquiring independent players to add proven titles and fortify their positions at the top of the charts will continue.
  6. Digital video becomes more measured to keep growing up: all the tech/media players will try to solve the digital video measurement and analytics riddle so that they can become the premiere advertising platform in a video-centric world.
  7. ‘Deskless’ workers come to forefront in enterprise mobility shift: research shows that market demand for enterprise mobile app services will grow at least five times faster than the supply of mobile solutions from internal IT departments.
  8. Cybersecurity continues soul searching: 2016 is the year cybersecurity solutions for the enterprise will become ubiquitous and a ‘must have’ for business operations.
  9. Drones will fly into headwinds of uncertainty: uncertainty around their regulation and current technical limitations could prevent them from breaking out at mass scale this year.
  10. Unicorn hunting now in season: tech ‘unicorns’ will come under increased scrutiny in 2016, and expect a number of them to lose their unicorn status as their valuations fall below the $1 billion threshold.

To download the full report, click here.

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