A look back at some of the most exciting moments & innovations Tech Trends covered in 2018!
Crypto is crashing – or so the experts say – but it is not going away, so Tech Trends was excited to welcome on board our very own FinTech wizard Richard Andrews who kicked off his soon to be regular series last month.
Is Cryptocurrency on the verge of going mainstream?
During the bull run of 2017/18, coins could pump 50% on little more than a tweet of a conference announcement or a trivial code release. The principles of decentralisation and innovation were king and governments, financial services and regulation of any kind the public enemy of this bright new decentralised future. But after the parabolic rise of 2017 and the sharp sell-off of 2018 investor sentiment has reversed dramatically in the hope that these same institutions can restore their fortunes.Hopes of greater institutional participation hinge on the Bitcoin ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) allowing institutional investors to participate in the market without the risks of holding Bitcoin directly Click To Tweet
Hopes of greater institutional participation have largely hinged on the prospect of a Bitcoin ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) which would allow private and institutional investors to participate in the market without the risks of holding Bitcoin directly. A good comparison is the well-established GLD ETF that provides exposure to gold without holding it under the mattress. However, this approach has so far proved disappointing due to rejections and delays by the US Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC). Read his full article here.
HoloLens subscription service spurring immersive tech adoption
Since the HoloLens was first released almost three years ago, Microsoft has steadily been building partnerships and demonstrating an array of industry use cases across manufacturing, engineering, healthcare, education and many others.
Rather than place users in a fully computer-generated world, as virtual reality does, HoloLens allows them to put 3D digital models in the room alongside them. As the Windows-10-based product does not have wires or external cameras or require a phone or PC connection, users can walk around the objects they create and interact with them using gestures, gaze and voice. This tends to make it well suited for onsite industrial applications.While many large companies have adopted mixed reality and HoloLens applications, the $3,000 price tag of the device has been perceived as a barrier for adoption among smaller players Click To Tweet
Yet while many large companies have adopted mixed reality and enthusiastically evangelized about the efficiency gains that they achieved with HoloLens applications, the $3,000 price tag of the device has been perceived as a barrier for adoption among smaller players, who understandably aren’t sure that the ROI would be justified in onboarding the technology at this relatively early stage. Read the full article here.
Epilepsy consortium believes technology could save the NHS £250 million a year
Today, up to one in 100 people in the UK are believed to suffer from epilepsy, leading to three per cent of all Accident and Emergency visits and a total of 1.3 million days in hospital a year. It’s a challenging condition to manage, particularly as existing medication only works for up to 70 per cent of sufferers. Of those who do not respond to medication, most are not suitable for invasive surgery, leaving many to continue to experience unpredictable and potentially life-threatening seizures. New research by Public Health England (PHE) has found a 70% rise in the number of deaths of epilepsy patients between 2001 and 2014. PHE said there was a need to improve the clinical management of patients and make improvements to their wider health by tackling smoking, alcohol intake and poor diet.The programme provides patients with wearable technology that records vital health data to help clinicians build a tailored record of a patient’s condition and seizure patterns Click To Tweet
This is what myCareCentric Epilepsy consortium – funded by Innovate UK and comprised of Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Kent, System C & Graphnet Care Alliance and Shearwater Systems – is hoping to do by equipping people with the ability to self-manage their condition. Running on Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure, the programme provides patients with wearable technology that records vital health data to help clinicians build a tailored record of a patient’s condition and seizure patterns. It has the potential to learn to classify seizures; to alert clinicians and carers in real-time so they can consult patients remotely, and provide essential lifestyle recommendations and drug prescriptions. Read the full article here.
A Tragic Loss to Science
Stephen Hawking taught us about about life, the universe, and everything
I once met Professor Stephen Hawking as he was coming out of the elevator at the John Lewis store in Cambridge (UK – The original one), where we both lived at the time. And although I’ll admit this might be far from the most interesting Stephen Hawking story out there, it’s still one of my favourites. Being in his presence was an incredible feeling. I felt ridiculously honoured to have bumped into him in this ordinary shop.
Now, after his death, I feel much the same way about having had the honour of sharing the same time-space with him. In an age of fake news, President Trump and imminent Brexit, he was our steadfast voice of reason. Right to the end, he advocated for the things he felt passionate about, such as defending the National Health Service against the likes of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who – with a level of misguided arrogance I can’t begin to comprehend – actually chose to argue with him (with entirely predictable results).In an age of fake news, President Trump and imminent Brexit, Professor Stephen Hawking was our steadfast voice of reason Click To Tweet
And all this he achieved with wit, wisdom, and a wicked sense of humour, which endeared him to millions around the world. When combined with the inspiring way in which he defied an illness that should have killed him and transcended the disability which left him only able to move a few muscles on his face, he is indeed a formidably inspirational figure. Read the full article here.
PokerStars brings online poker to a truly immersive social VR experience
I don’t often see a new VR experience that makes me gasp, but the world’s largest online poker site and tournament organiser PokerStars have pulled one out of the bag here.
An exciting and innovative experience for new and existing players, PokerStars VR is a free-to-play, authentic and immersive social poker game, which will give players the chance to play poker in visually stunning game environments, handle chips and cards just as in the real world, study opponents and pick up tells, chat in real time, and keep the tables fun with a host of interactive props. PokerStars
I don’t often see a new VR experience that makes me gasp, but the PokerStars one did Click To Tweet
I hear pitches about new VR experiences every day but as with everything, the proof is in the pudding. Tech Trends flew over to sunny Barcelona last month to get a sneak peek at this new game and stood in a room full of journalists watching them all disappear into one of the most immersive and engaging social VR experiences yet. I have stood in many rooms like this but have never seen an experience suck in so many people so fast. In seconds they were laughing, chatting and playing with PokerStars VR Beta testers scattered all over the U.S. They were acting like VR natives, truly through the looking glass and they didn’t give a damn. It was a strange and thrilling experience. Read the full article here.
Ninja tech skills can come in handy even onboard an Antarctic research ship
A research trip around the Antarctic gave a Software Engineer Carles Pina i Estany a new perspective on how the very product he helped build was being used by scientists. Aboard a research vessel thousands of miles from shore and the nearest reliable Internet connection, these modern explorers routinely relied on Mendeley to do their work, even in subzero temperatures.A research trip around the Antarctic gave a Software Engineer Carles Pina i Estany a new perspective on how the very product he helped build was being used by scientists Click To Tweet
The opportunity to take part in this unique expedition came when Carles’ partner, Jen Thomas, was invited to become Data Manager on a research trip led by the newly created Swiss Polar Institute, which has a mission to connect researchers active in polar or extreme environments, promotes public awareness of these environments, and facilitates access to research facilities in those extreme environments. As they were short of an IT person and Carles was already on a sabbatical from his work at Elsevier – during which he had already planned to travel around the world – he seized the opportunity to fulfil a longstanding ambition to take part in a polar expedition. Read the full article here.
Ted Talks with Zebra
Accessible design in the age of Industry 4.0
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing a tsunami of change that will dramatically affect how we interact with and adapt to technology. The ways we choose to ride this wave will determine the shape of our future. Will we use this as an opportunity to solve our most pressing issues, or allow it to become a calamity that divides us? Hosted by TED’s Bryn Freedman, five speakers and one performer explored the tools and expertise we’ll harness to build the future
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing a tsunami of change that will dramatically affect how we interact with and adapt to technology Click To Tweet
The evening included fascinating presentations from experts on the woeful state of America’s election systems and how technology can help, and how we need to change the way we learn if AI is part of the process. Zebra’s own design technologist James Morley-Smith took inspiration from how his disabled son Fintan learned piano starting with the black keys (the opposite of the traditional method) to guide his designs. In his work at Zebra, Morley-Smith designs for employees who are often in noisy, poorly lit industrial settings and clad in bulky protective gear. By following the black-keys tactic, he’s factoring in users’ limitations from the get-go, much like the idea of accessible product design championed by Microsoft at this year’s Build Conference. Read the full article here.
Porn legend Ron Jeremy sees VR as the future of the adult industry
Every 5 minutes, Pornhub transmits more data than the entire contents of the New York Public library’s 50 million books. Pornhub’s yearly review of trends reveals that in 2017 a total of 3,732 Petabytes of porn data was streamed, which makes for 7,101 GB per minutes and 118 GB per second.In 2017 a total of 3,732 Petabytes of porn data was streamed, which makes for 7,101 GB per minutes and 118 GB per second Click To Tweet
And a man who significantly contributed to those gigantic volumes of traffic is Ron Jeremy, an AVN Hall of Famer with over 2,000 films under his belt. Jeremy is the Guinness Book of Records holder for Most Appearances in Adult Films and a big believer in VR Porn. So much so that he’s now put his money where his mouth is and launched RonJeremyVR, a premium service hosting VR films directed by the big man himself.Every 5 minutes, Pornhub transmits more data than the entire contents of the New York Public library’s 50 million books Click To Tweet
So where are we in this new age of online VR thrills? According to the Pornhub Year in Review 2017 report:
With the demand for streaming porn continuing to grow, this data suggests that Ron is indeed on to a real winner Click To Tweet
“Virtual Reality Porn continues to gain in popularity, moving up 14 spots on the list from 2016. Cheerleaders came back with a bang, moving up 366 slots and into our top 20 searches of the year. VR devices were a popular holiday gift, and it seems that porn was one of the first things people wanted to try out with their new headsets. After the New Year, average daily views remained much higher than the pre-Christmas levels at around half a million per day.”
With the demand for streaming porn continuing to grow, this data suggests that Ron is indeed on to a real winner. Read the full chat with Ron here.
Internet of Things
IoT and the connected home have yet to fulfil their promise
IFA this year was much like previous years, hundreds of companies screaming from the rooftops about minimally iterative products. A few more pixels, a bit bigger screen, a bit faster processor and everything a bit thinner, oh and crap Robots. I love tech and love my gadgets and can geek out with the best of them but I attended IFA this time looking for more meaningful innovation than a bit better camera on an $800 smartphone. I am happy to report that I found it, but not where you might expect.
A decade ago the invention of the smartphone changed our lives but truly new products like this are few and far between, so every year companies try to reinvent what we already have through minor upgrades and tweaks. We are stuck in a loop where the market is slowly evolving but no real innovation is going on, and the largest companies in the world are all guilty of this lack of effort to progress, so we must start looking off the beaten track for those that are truly working to innovate.The largest companies in the world are all guilty of this lack of effort to progress so we must start looking off the beaten track for innovation Click To Tweet
Thought sustainably producing high-quality, smart and connected home products @Beko can democratise technology Click To Tweet
IoT and the connected home has been much discussed and I have seen some interesting concepts and even a few eyebrow-raising products but it is not yet in our homes, changing the way we live, and judging from the hundreds of pathetic, unimaginative and almost useless ‘innovative IoT products’ on display at IFA 2018, it’s not going to happen any time soon. But Turkish behemoth Beko, makers of reasonably priced kitchen appliances, held a press conference to announce their technology strategy and issued a white paper on the future of technology in the home and impressed me with their assessment of how new, innovative technologies in our kitchens can improve our lives and can do it affordably and in the not-too-distant future. Read the full article here.
Well, it’s been a very exciting year for technology, and we’re off to play with our gadgets, but be sure to check back with us right after Christmas as we boldly go where no one has gone before in 2019…
Merry Christmas from TECH TRENDS!