From saving lives to changing the face of video gaming, here’s what our tech expert has to say about what the year ahead may hold…
Let’s face it: as tech fans, we’ve never had it better. The quickening tide of innovation in pretty much every field, from healthcare to mobile, has seen our lives fundamentally changed by the great tech trends of the last few years.
Online and mobile shopping has put paid to the days of wading through the aisles during January sales; we’ve waved goodbye to scratched CDs as digitisation gained its foothold in the musical landscape, and streaming services have cemented their place as the most convenient way to consume film and TV. But really, we’re just getting started.
Mobile, and the dawn of 5G
5G has been spoken about in breathless terms for years, not just as a means to make your smartphone streaming go that little bit quicker, but as a genuine gamechanger: a key to unlocking all those sci-fi dreams you were promised growing up.
Whether it’s driverless cars, drones, or a VR experience that lives up to its billing, 5G could well be what’s needed to bridge the gap between the world of today, and the world of tomorrow. And if this all sounds like pie-in-the-sky stuff, fret not: more immediate benefits are in the offing.
Holly, who’s been at the forefront of 5G with the hugely successful tech and lifestyle site Gadgette, explains:
“It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an even better version of 4G. But it’s not just ‘one step onwards’ – the 5G speeds should be so good that we might be able to ditch our home broadband and just use mobile data – even for streaming and gaming. It’s going to be ridiculous, in a good way.”
Oh, and that’s not forgetting the world of 5G-powered holographic calling. Just last year, we conducted the UK’s first live holographic call over 5G, beaming Steph Houghton MBE, Manchester City and England Women’s captain, live from Manchester to Newbury, to chat with guests in a demonstration of what could be the future of communications technology.
Video game streaming, and more choose-your-own adventures
2019 should also be an amazing year for gamers, even beyond the expected raft of incredible new console and mobile releases. Last year saw the big players in the field make strides towards offering up video game streaming as a viable alternative to physical copy ownership, with Sony’s PlayStation Now and Google’s Project Stream notable steps in the right direction.
Holly, a keen gamer, is confident we’ll see more of this in 2019:
“I still remember the days when you had to go out in the cold and walk 20 minutes to Blockbuster to rent the new N64 game.” She adds, “Now you can download it, and soon you won’t even have to do that. Streaming games makes total sense as long as the infrastructure can support it.”
With 5G just around the corner, it could be a matter of time before – much like music, film and TV – physical copies of video games fall out of favour.
And while we’re on the subject of streaming, Holly thinks we may be on the cusp of more choose-your-own adventure film and TV projects. She explains:
“We now have the ability to give people a piece of art that’s somewhere between a video game and a film, whereby they can make choices and get to the ending they want. Imagine if you could have played Titanic through and saved Jack by getting him on the floating door with Rose. I’m going to give everything happy endings,” she adds, “because I’m soppy like that.”
If there’s a way for us to save Bambi’s mum, count us in.
Health tech will save more lives
But not every hot tech trend that comes hurtling around the corner is so heavily signposted. While you may expect the likes of 5G and streaming to light up your 2019, each year throws up surprising innovations in fields that are often unsung, but still have the power to have a notable impact on our lives.
We asked Holly about the tech that could come out of left-field to change our lives in 2019. She said:
“All the health tech. It’s coming so far, so fast. Right now, I’m particularly interested in things that let people take their health into their own hands: at-home blood and DNA tests to monitor and discover health conditions, machines for measuring your blood pressure and sleep quality by app, that kind of thing.
“Until now it’s been quite detrimental for people to Google their symptoms, but at-home health gadgets will mean they can go to their GP empowered with actual readings and verifiable information. It’ll help people discover things they never would have known about, and it’ll probably save some lives. Plus, it takes a bit of the strain off the NHS, and that’s particularly needed right now.”
Fun and practicality with foldable phones
It’s often tempting to split new tech into two camps: the enjoyable, and the practical. A smart fridge may make your life easier, but asking your white goods for more milk isn’t necessarily enjoyable.
On the flipside, it’s hard to argue a case for the efficiency of filters on our favourite photography app, but that doesn’t make them less enjoyable.
Sometimes, however, a technology emerges that straddles the line between practicality and enjoyment, and foldables fit the bill nicely. While hardly a new concept – Lenovo’s concept phone, the Cplus, got there in 2016 – Holly feels that 2019 could be the year foldables come of age.
“I’m ridiculously excited about the potential for folding, rolling, bending and generally morphing displays. For so long it’s been a battle between the screen size you want (especially for smartphones and tablets) and actually being able to fit that screen in your pocket/bag/hand. The advent of folding and rolling screens will mean we could potentially go back to the days when everyone’s sitting on the tube behind a broadsheet-sized newspaper – but one made of screen. Awesome.”
You can check out our guide to the future of foldable phones here.
Want to know more about the wearable landscape? Find out more about the glorious possibilities of wearable tech…