By Oon Yeoh
A new year has dawned and it’s a good time to look at tech trends that will be blazing the path ahead. Of course tech predictions are notoriously difficult to get right. Anyway, here’s my attempt of the Top 3 trends for the year.
BYOD becomes commonplace
Although employers are understandably wary of the Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, it is something that employees like. Workers sometimes complain that the hardware they are assigned is too old, the software inadequate and the Internet access too slow. That’s no longer a problem if they have their own laptop, software and mobile Internet access. Today, especially in the creative industry, it’s very common for employees to bring their own laptops to work. The tech industry calls this trend “the consumerisation of IT”.
Related to BYOD are two other trends that we’ll see happening more in the near future. One relates to cloud computing and the other to the Chromebook. Cloud computing makes it possible for users to do work on multiple devices. If you’re working on Google Docs for example and sharing files via Dropbox, it doesn’t matter what device you’re using (laptop, tablet, phone), you will be able to do your work so long as there’s broadband available. Although full-powered laptops aren’t going away anytime soon, the inexpensive Chromebook (which runs on Google’s browser-centric Chrome operating system) actually sold quite well last year, contrary to critics’ expectations.
Curved displays debut for phones & TVs
It’s inevitable that screen resolution will increase over time. For example two years ago, high-end smartphones tend to have 720p displays. Last year, some phones had 1080 displays. In due time, we’ll probably see so-called “4K” phone screens. But that’s not very exciting stuff. What is sexier and likely to happen in a big way this year is the introduction of phones with curved displays. LG and Samsung had already showcased curved samples last year (and you can read about it here). This year, I believe the world will see several more new models rolled out with curved displays.
In the world of TV, we’re also used to seeing screen resolution increase over time. Although 4K TVs are hardly common place yet and may not necessarily become so within this year, it is just a matter of time before it becomes the standard. Again, not very sexy. What may be more exciting is the concept of a curved TV display. As with the mobile phone, Sony, LG and Samsung are among electronic companies that will be making huge 4K TVs with curved screens. They will cost a bomb at first but it’s the shape of things to come. And I believe it will happen this year.
Wearable computing finally take off
When you say wearable computing, usually Google Glass or a smart watch comes to mind. Though both are now available, they are hardly mainstream products that everyday people use.
Between the two, smart watches will probably take off first because more than one brand is offering it. In fact, if the tech rumour mill is to be believed, all the major tech companies – including Apple and Google – are planning to release smart watches. Samsung has already done so in a big way. Although success hasn’t been exactly overwhelming, it’s not something the company is likely to give up on and, with each generation, it is bound to improve. And with Apple and Google likely to hop on the bandwagon this year, it’s a sector to take notice of.
The one sector that nobody really expected to take off but which has gained far more traction than Google Glass or smart watches are mobile fitness monitoring devices. There are many brands offering such devices, with the most trendy being the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up and Fitbit Flex. Perhaps because these look like bracelets or bangles, they can also double as fashion statements more so than a Google Glass or a smart watch could. Expect the market for such devices to blossom this year.
Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant.