Our lives become more connected with new technology every year. We have smartphones, smart refrigerators, smart thermostats, smart everything. We are all becoming part of the grand Internet of things.
In 2016, we’re going to see some major shifts in technology and we’ll see products designed to make our lives faster, simpler, better. But we have to be careful that in our quest to become more connected with technology that we aren’t disconnecting from people and more importantly, from God.
Here are a few things to watch (and watch out for) this year
The past few years have seen groundbreaking breakthroughs in virtual reality tech, but due to cost most consumers were priced out. 2016 is the year we can expect to see products targeted to mainstream consumers. Sony, HTC, and Oculus (which was acquired for $2 billion by Facebook in 2014) are all expected to release new virtual-reality headsets that will expand beyond the gaming industry.
Now, on the surface, virtual reality as an extension of gaming or as a unique way to experience movies and music sounds is incredible. We’re already spending time doing those things anyway—so enhancing that experience with new technology makes perfect sense.
The danger zone for virtual reality depends on the variety of programs developed.
Watching Star Wars and feeling like you’re actually in that world for two hours? Or listening to the new David Bowie album and experiencing the music in a whole new way? Awesome.
Having virtual conversations with virtual people instead of actual conversations with actual people? Or spending hours on end in a virtual world at the expense of the real one? Bad news.
Chances are you’ve seen a social robot on television in the past couple years, answering questions from reporters. You may even have another kind of consumer robot that vacuums your house.
What you might not know is that annual shipments of consumer robots, a category that includes robotic vacuums, lawn mowers, pool cleaners, and social robots, reached $6.6 million units last year. Between now and 2020 projections expect nearly one hundred million more to be shipped during that period.
- “Sota” will communicate with the user and interface with wearable devices used to measure health.
- “CaddyTrek” is a robotic gold caddy that follows you and doesn’t require tips at the end of a round.
- “Pepper” is a mobile humanoid robot designed as a companion who interacts with you and adapts to your moods. He “evolves with you” according to the site.
Now the vast majority of consumer robots are designed to make your life easier and free you to do other things. But when we’re building robots strictly to be our companions, we have to wonder what is motivating that decision.
Do we not have human companions? Are we not connected in our church, community, or family? Or are we simply looking for a pricy novelty toy?
More Mobile, Faster
Mobile technology has exploded in the past several years. According to a Pew Research Center study, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind and that number is steadily increasing.
Those who do own a device have it within arm’s reach 90% of the time and check their phones on average 150 times PER DAY. Many companies are innovating for a world where media, Internet, and commerce are consumed more on mobile devices than any other kind of technology.
And they’re getting faster.
The majority of smartphones are currently operating on 3G or 4G technologies, but pushing into this year and beyond companies will be releasing 5G commercial services. 5G networks are expected to be one hundred times faster than current networks according to Nitin Bhas, the Head of Research at Juniper.
We’ve all experienced having a conversation with someone who is always on his or her phone—and some of us might be guilty of this ourselves.
We should change that. If we’re out to dinner, riding in a car, or playing with our kids, we should make a concentrated effort to be present in those situations rather than distracted by an app, a game, or a text. Life goes by too fast to be checking our phones 150 times a day—even at 5G, 6G, or 7G speeds.