The millennial era is dominated by a lightening paced technological industry whose aim is to produce bigger, better and faster versions of the latest 'must have' item on the market. Such demand for technological advancements in a highly dynamic and constantly evolving industry is driven by innovation and demand for change. Patrick Cox, editor of Technology Profits Confidential has stated that 'there has been more technological improvement in the last 50 years than in the previous 5,000.' As the global transition into the Internet of Everything - 'the intelligent connection of people, processes, data and things' - is currently taking place, we can be said to be living in what might best be termed as the 'information revolution.'
This raises alarm bells for some who argue that the more interconnected the world becomes, the more removed from reality society becomes. Then of course there's the worry over the decline in human interaction skills as face to face contact is being replaced by social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. However, it does not do to ignore the global surge in employment rates brought about by this information revolution we find ourselves living in. It is estimated that employment in all computer occupations is expected to increase by 22% by 2020. The positive knock-on effects of this fast paced industry are countless. New technologies require a re-tooling of one's skill set, which in turn demands more of the education system, ultimately leading to the production of more creative ideas and solutions.
So far, this year has witnessed innovations from Google, Samsung and the Gaming industry, among others, making it an exciting one for the tech enthusiast. From the latest wearable tech to the ultimate home entertainment experience, here are some of the developments that have taken place in the world of technology in 2014.
5 LG Lifeband Touch
2014 will see a surge in the release of wearable technology. Although the smartband has been on the market for a while now, a number of products at the CES 2014 show just where wearable technology is heading in the coming months. Newer versions of wristbands that are already on the market show improvements in functionality and appearance.
The LG Lifeband Touch has an aesthetically pleasing, touch sensitive OLED display and claims to offer ‘much more than a fitness tracker.’ It will calculate the number of steps taken and the amount of calories burned as well as monitoring the heart rate of its wearer. Additionally, it has full Bluetooth connectivity and it is compatible with Android, iOS smartphones and tablets enabling phone call and message alerts. Wearers can even use it to control their phone's music player remotely so it makes for an ideal workout gadget. Offering more versatility than the usual fitness tracker, the Lifeband Touch costs $179.
4 Pebble Steel
2014 has seen the launch of the Pebble Steel, an upgraded version of the Pebble smartwatch that was launched last year. The sleeker, more attractive Pebble Steel comes in two finishes; brushed stainless steel or matte black with a choice of a metal or leather wristband finally bringing style to the smartwatch. It has an e-paper screen with a Coming Gorilla Glass display which provides added protection against damage and smudging. Additionally, it has a 5-7 day battery life making it somewhat of an eco-friendly purchase.
Like the smartband, the Pebble Steel has full Bluetooth connectivity and can be paired with its wearers Android handset or iPhone allowing for messages, notifications and more. It has the ability to control music playback and with an all-new app for Android and iOS and a new Pebble app store, customizing your watch is easier than ever. There are eight open slots for third-party apps on the Pebble. Once apps have been removed from the watch they are stored in a locker in the phone app which enables wearers to swap apps around in just a few taps. Cheaper than many other smartwatches on the market, the Pebble Steel costs just $249.
3 Oculus Rift 'Crystal Cove'
The Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’ prototype marks a shift in the gaming world, putting a whole new spin on the virtual reality experience. The Crystal Cove prototype has been hailed as 2014’s Best of CES Winner.
Its 1080p OLED display provides remarkable sharpness and clarity making gaming all the more enjoyable. What really sets the Crystal Cove apart from previous versions though are its positional tracking abilities. The headset, with inbuilt hi-tech goggles, follows the motion of the player's head. The edges of the headset are mounted with numerous sensors so the virtual environment moves in sync with the player's head, allowing for a totally immersive experience. Using a pair of high-definition 960 x 1080 per-eye display screens to project wide angle images allows Crystal Cove to mirror what the player's eyes see in reality. This also reduces the screen-door effect and improves clarity, color, and contrast.
Not limited to the gaming world, this innovative technology has far reaching advantages for many commercial sectors. Oculus VP, Nate Mitchell has stated that virtual reality is a 'new disruptive medium that can revolutionize the way we do a lot more than just games.' It is not surprising then that NASA is currently making use of the Oculus Rift to create virtual tours of Mars and the International Space Station.
At present, the Crystal Cove has not been given a release date, but it promises to transform the entertainment industry. For the virtual reality enthusiasts out there, Oculus have announced pre-orders for DK2 which shares many of the Crystal Cove's features. Expected to ship in July of this year, the DK2 will set you back $350.
2 Samsung Curved OLED TV
Samsung's curved OLED TV is the world's first! With a display that measures 65 inches, this TV offers the most futuristic viewing experience available on the market. Samsung's reps claim that the TV's curve allows for 'IMAX-like fields of view' creating amazing clarity and vibrant colours. Guy Kinnell of Samsung has stated that 'the combination of our curved design and UHD picture quality creates the ultimate immersive entertainment experience for people passionate about entertainment.'
The display, less than an inch thick and siting in a frame of chrome-plated aluminium, creates the illusion of a floating TV. It contains an inbuilt camera for applications such as Skype and smart controls and responds to motion and voice commands. Additionally, Samsung’s Smart Hub comes well stocked, with Netflix, Lovefilm, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and much more. It is possible to download apps, stream from Samsung’s content library, or watch what you want via a USB drive and networked computers. As impressive as all of these features are, it does not come cheap running at a steep $11,500
1 Google Glass
2014 will see a surge in the release of wearable technology with Google at the helm. Essentially a wearable computer, the Google glass technology features a head mounted display which has a pixel resolution of 640 x 360. While that may sound low, it provides the equivalent picture to that of a 25-inch HD display given its compact size makes it all the more impressive. This wearable piece of technology has an inbuilt 5 megapixel camera with 720p video capture and contains 16GB of storage. Much like a standard smartphone, this nifty piece of technology can be charged using a standard micro USB cable. It has full Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and can be connected to any smartphone.
Google glass has upped the ante in the wearable technology market - this innovative piece of tech stands alone with audio transmission taking place through a bone conduction transducer. So instead of using headphones, this minicomputer sends audio vibrations directly through the small bones in the ear, which can then be heard as sound.
Google glass allows wearers to take pictures, hands-free recordings, ask Google questions and send messages among other things. It is the perfect piece of technology for those who are keen to explore the world around them and share their experiences. Like most emerging technology, Google glass has advantages that reach beyond the world of social networking with research currently being carried out on how appliances can be controlled using Google glass hardware.