Next leap forward

If 2014 was known as the year when Apple redefined mobile with its iPhone 6, 2015 is set to be the year when wearable technology well and truly explodes . . . or dies a slow death.

Wearable technology is one of the many trends set to emerge this year, with virtual reality, robotics and biometric security all predicted to seep into the mainstream.

Along with major technology companies announcing their latest gadgets — and a sea of smaller companies pitching their ideas — the team at CES have also flagged digital health, “entertainment and immersive content” (technology such as vibrations in lounge chairs simulating a hip-and-shoulder in an AFL match) and big data as three more trends to watch for in 2015.

Wearable technology

It was the domain for tech geeks last year but the public’s appetite for it will be truly gauged when the world’s biggest company releases its Apple Watch early to mid this year.

While a specific Australian release date has not been set, the watch will be in the country at some point and will no doubt encourage those Apple fans so far wary of the wearable trend to take the plunge, with its price set tentatively at about $400.

Wearable tech is slowly becoming mainstream through the rise of fitness watches, and as the prices head south — and as watch designs become less clunky — the trend is likely to become even more popular.

The same can’t be said for Google’s much-hyped Google Glass release. What was supposed to be the big thing of 2014 has been pushed back to this year, and tech insiders say concerns over Glass’ ability to record constantly without a person’s knowledge is just one of many kinks being smoothed out. Glass is still expected to hit the shelves with a bang mid-year.

On-demand TV

The arrival of Netflix will shake things up for what was once known as the small screen — the smartphone has now taken that mantle — with the US streaming giant announcing in November it will hit Australia in March.

The commercial stations are set to follow suit with their own offerings, while Foxtel continues to cut prices and maintain its market with new on-demand offerings.

More wi-fi hotspots

Telstra and iiNet last year both launched wi-fi hotspot services, the former investing in hotspots through its huge network of payphones. As we consume more and more data on our phones, the proliferation of public wi-fi is expected to continue. Expect a day in the not-too-distant future where you are almost continually connected to wi-fi on a smartphone, in a built-up area at least.

Virtual reality

Oculus Rift, which was this year bought by Facebook for $2 billion, brought virtual reality out of the 1990s and again made it accessible. Other tech companies, such as Samsung and Sony, are jumping head-first into virtual reality with their own headsets. This is also set to revolutionise the world of gaming.

Tablets die, phablets rise

Last year, the tablet joined the laptop’s decline, with sales falling heavily. And looking at the size of the iPhone 6 Plus — 5 1/2 inches diagonally — and the rumoured size of the yet-to-be-released Samsung Galaxy S6 (big), it’s not hard to see where the trend is heading. Is the next step a wireless keyboard for your phablet?


When Waikiki Primary School buys a $23,000 robot named Neo to help its students learn, you know robots are about to hit the mainstream.

What was once the realm of sci-fi movies is set to become commonplace as prices dip and the technology becomes more accessible. But be wary, Professor Stephen Hawking last month said the development of full artificial intelligence — robots that think — could spell the end of the human race.

Biometric security

Samsung announced it was looking into an iris-scanning security feature for its phones, taking over from the fingerprint tech used in the current batch of Apple and Samsung smartphones.

This is good news for local company Wavefront Biometric Technologies, which has patented hand-held corneal eye-scanning technology to use in a similar way to individual PIN numbers. Biometric technology has been in the pipeline for years, but 2015 is set to mark further gains to become mainstream technology.


© The West Australian

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