According to reports, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to build his own artificially intelligent assistant that will help him run his life. He claims he can do this by using existing home-automation tools from companies such as Samsung, Apple and Google, and combining them with voice control software similar to Apple's Siri, Google Now, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, and other super-advanced cloud-based A.I. solutions like IBM's Watson. This clearly illustrates how advanced A.I. technology has already become.
Smarter Smart Materials
Smart materials will also continue to permeate throughout our everyday lives. Advances in this area will mean that consumer devices will be constructed with materials that possess new and exciting properties capable of making them lighter, stronger, cheaper, and more eco-friendly. For example "space age" materials such as Graphene, new and improved Gorilla Glass, and "self-healing" polymers will soon make displays brighter, sharper, thinner, shatter-proof, scratch-resistant and even flexible, ideal for wearable devices.
Intelligent Connected Devices
It's important to remember that just because a "thing" is connected, that doesn't automatically make it "smart" or "intelligent". This year we will see connected devices that think for themselves by working intuitively, for example true "plug-and-play" routers like EERO, and smart home controllers like Angee can configure themselves, and operate in synch with other devices within smart networks of things.
Be warned, however, as I've said before, this all sounds good in theory, but many manufacturers will get things badly wrong leading to devices that perform poorly. Also prepare for a tsunami of connected devices that are basically just gimmicks, like wifi enabled coffee machines that connect to sleep trackers so that a pot of coffee is brewed upon waking. I predict that instead of delivering upon the promise of making our lives easier, they will serve only to frustrate, or in some cases infuriate. We are therefore about to embark on an awkward period where not-so-intelligent devices will do things that, on paper, sound fantastic but just aren't in real life. Also humans are complex, and fickle so, using the wifi coffee machine as an example, you wake up to find that an entire pot of strong black coffee has been prepared, but during the night you've changed your mind, so the coffee will go to waste. The trouble is A.I. assistants can't read our minds, and even if they could, they'd still have a hard time making sense of our thoughts because, compared to our silicon counterparts, we are a highly irrational, and impulsive species!
Humanoid Companion Robots
I predict 2016 will bring some fascinating developments with the arrival of humanoid robots like Jibo, Buddy, Alpha 2, RoBoHon and Pepper. They will act as companions, entertainers and educators for children, professionals, and the elderly. In fact, my feeling is that they will have a far greater impact on society than originally thought. In the healthcare sector, for example, although robots will never completely replace human carers or family members, they will become invaluable in situations where humans or loved ones are not on hand. Robots will, therefore, in my view undoubtedly play an important role within the caring profession, because the world's population is ageing, and there simply won't be enough human carers available to meet demand. Also, families are becoming more widely distributed, so living within close proximity of ageing relatives is becoming a thing of the past. One of the most widespread fears expressed by those over the age of 70 is loneliness, and there's increasing evidence that it is a contributing factor of dementia, caused by a lack of mental stimulation. As a result, robots will increasingly be used out of necessity by the medical profession to serve the needs of senior citizens. They will perform duties such as instigate conversation, monitor medication consumption, and summons help in the event of a medical emergency, or accident. Robots will of course also continue to be used within industry and commerce for all manner of applications.
To continue reading, please go to: Technologies to Watch in 2016 (Part Two).