2016 was a huge year for breakthrough and disruptive tech developments. With technology trends such as VR, AR, bots and AI all making waves in established industries, the opportunity for growth in every sector is inevitable.
There were some great tech stories last year – from VR rollercoasters to robot surgeons. Here are our favourites from 2016.
Way back in March 2016, Sony announced PSVR, which was released all over the world on 13th October 2016. It turned out to be one of the best-received VR devices of the year, with Amazon completely selling out weeks before Christmas, so much so they had to release a disclaimer alerting customers there would be no more stock before 2017. And further afield, PSVR took the VR world by storm, and was one of Japan’s top selling consoles of October, shifting 51,644 units in just 3 days.
It was a blow for one of the most well-known autonomous car manufacturers after the news broke that a Tesla model S driver had crashed into the side of a lorry whilst running on autopilot. Tesla was accused of not adequately testing the cars and essentially beta testing with people’s lives, using their owners as test dummies. This opinion changes somewhat when several witnesses came forward and said that they saw the driver watching a Harry Potter film whilst driving at 80mph.
2016 was the year that VR properly became mainstream, and nothing proved that more than the redesign of Air at Alton Towers. Now named Galactic, riders don Samsung Gear VR headsets and ride the track in a star-filled galaxy. It’s been open for just over a year, as Alton Towers look for new ways to attract visitors after their Smiler accident last year.
Here’s another great example of how apps can change the world, Sea Hero Quest took the iStore by storm with its nautical-themed, simple but fun app. It was the world’s first mobile game that provided scientists with data to help fight dementia, and it’s been played by almost 2.5million people, generating over 63 years of gameplay. The general public’s response was huge and provided results that made Sea Hero Quest the largest dementia study in history.
Yet another revolutionary retail release came early this year, with the Amazon Dash button. Whilst some dismissed it as useless and pointless, it has become a fairly popular addition to many Prime accounts.
The Dash button allows UK customers to push it when they run out of toilet rolls, washing powder and a host of other domestic products, and within 24 hours the items will be delivered to you. Is this the future of digital shopping, or just another addition to a crowded retail tech scene?
Would you be happy getting an operation from a machine? Well, the future is here with the development of robots for mainstream operations that can perform microscopic tasks, all the time controlled by the surgeon. The robot, named the da Vinci Surgical System can perform insanely small and precise operations, using a jointed-wrist design that replicates the natural motion of the human hand.
Watch the video here to see how the machine can perform precision movements on a very small scale.
London is going robotic! Just Eat, the online food delivery company, announced a world exclusive as they revealed plans to deliver food via self-driving delivery robots across certain boroughs of London. Essentially a trolley with a brain, the Just Eat robot uses GPS to navigate its way to your front door and travels up to 4mph with 20lbs of goods as a maximum. It’s the first mainstream brand that has adopted this tech, making us think that the use of robots will be commonplace in the future, with lots of potential new uses for this tech.
Reversal of spinal injuries in primates has been achieved by scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in a move that could spell out great advances for humans in the future.
Research scientists managed to implement a microchip into a chimp’s brain, and use it to restore movement in paralysed limbs. Although scientists were quick to assert that this does not mean they’ve discovered a cure for complete paralysis due to the huge differences between humans and monkeys (eg, we walk on two legs), it’s certainly a step in the right direction for humans.