What to expect from 2016? First let's revisit some of the highlights of 2015. Some say that 2015 was a bit of a disappointment in terms of mobile technology, nothing really interesting debuted during the year. That might be true if looking only on all the new smartphones, no new embedded sensors introduced during the year - except Apple's 3D Touch display a first step in tactile mobile experiences to be further explored in 2016. During 2015 the number of IoT products and gadgets that utilizes our smartphones as digital hubs have increased heavily, in some cases like the Apple's HomeKit even uses a media center as the digital hub of your home - i.e. existing hardware gets increased functionality and allows for a lower investment threshold for new technology in our homes. The smart home devices have been around for a few years now, but during 2015 the number of products increased heavily and they also became a bit more user friendly.
Philips launched app-based ultrasound, their product Lumify makes ultrasound mobile and available almost anywhere. This gadget is an excellent example on how our smart devices can act as an extended UI (user interface) to our gadgets - the result is not only more portable devices, but cheaper devices since not all devices have to incorporate the full-fledged graphics capabilities. Another benefit is that additional computing power can be added to the system and creating a small distributed computing system. The same goes for the steadily growing smart watch segment, they continue to extend and add functionality to your smart device.
Another interesting advancement that I personally have been waiting for was introduced by Microsoft last year, Continuum. The smartphone becomes your only device, no longer just mobile first - it's now mobile only. Another device on the same theme is Solu, a coaster-sized cloud-based computer that fits in your pocket. We still need a little more processing power to replace our laptop with a smartphone. The new generation tablets are also starting to replace our laptops, or at least making more difficult for us to make a choice between a new laptop or a new tablet. Imagine if laptops could be replaced by small portable screens, dumb tablets, extending your smartphone - the one device to do it all.
For 2016 I expect to see even more dynamic, data-driven mobile apps incorporating sensor information and tactile objects - maybe even as far as odor smell. It will probably be the year when we see virtual reality applications take-off - Oculus Rift will be available for customers during Q1 2016, there's Google Cardboard allowing you to fold your own VR goggles and get going. What exciting applications will we see during 2016 that utilizes VR? To take advantage of the technology one might have to buy a new powerful desktop computer, a segment of the PC market that has seen a steady decrease over the last years.
A few things are clear about what 2016 will bring us in terms of technology, IoT will continue to grow and UX (user experience) will still be in focus driving a lot of the innovation within mobile technology.