2013 saw everything around us get a little bit smarter – both users and technology. In addition to pivotal advancements for the future of tech, users of the web have also evolved.
Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update punctuated the evolution of the consumer usage of search. A change in consumer's reliance and attitude combined with leading advancements by tech trailblazers mean that 2014 is shaping up to be pretty exciting.
Last year’s big announcements came from two of the web’s major players. Google unveiled its breakthrough technology, ‘Google Glass’ and Amazon began trialling drones, for a speedy ‘on-demand’ shopping experience. There’s no doubt that these recent changes have emerged in anticipation of the evolving expectations of 2014’s internet user. Devices and online experiences are information-rich, and users expect this information to be delivered quickly and available at all times.
The tech advancements predicted in 2014 don’t simply rely on the emergence of new technology, but also the continual shift in consumer behaviour and assumptions. Brands really need to up their game to stay in-line with meeting the needs and wants of their customers. Users have become more reliant on their day-to-day devices, and expect them to be able to facilitate any task. Today’s more demanding user is highly critical of usability, and ‘switch off’ to brands whose digital offering cannot meet their needs. This reliance has come as a result of people being more familiar and more reliant on their mobile devices, which are now used to accommodate everyday tasks – shopping, booking appointments, communications and even managing household appliances.
What does the future hold?
Wearable tech - Google's big products of 2013 - Hummingbird and
Google Glass - trailblazed the way for wearable, voice activated technology. Google Glass is rumoured to become available to consumers this year, though a release date has yet to be confirmed. Google's rival, Samsung has evidently seen the market potential in smart glasses and have filed a patent application for their own version, said to be named 'Galaxy Glass'. Smart glasses aren't the only wearable tech in demand, however. The adoption rate of smart watches has been huge, with brands such as Samsung, Sony, Nike and Pebble releasing impressive products to the market. However, the one that seems to be most greatly anticipated is Apple's smartwatch, which is also rumoured to be released in 2014.
Big data - 'Big data' was one of 2013's hottest buzzwords. Now big data seems to be everywhere: every day we are surrounded by analytics and data to enable smarter, more accurate online decision making. However, the implementation of big data didn't quite take off last year, but rather a greater awareness of it was created. Essentially big data is nothing new; but recent developments have been created around this subject - software that facilitates the effective analysis of big data has become far more accessible and sophisticated. For this reason, 2014 is set to be the year that 'big data' matures from a techno-jargon buzzword into an operational necessity.
The Smart Home - the idea of 'the Internet of Things' has been in circulation for years now. But finally it seems as though this pithy catchphrase is coming into fruition. One new connected home technology that has been a huge hit is Nest. Nest offers a thermostat and a smoke detector that promises to learn your schedule, programme itself and is fully controllable from your smartphone. The Nest app can allow you to adjust heating/cooling temperatures on the move and sends notifications to your phone when an alarm is triggered. This is just one product in the throng of new connected devices - smart washing machines, kettles that notify you when they have boiled and security systems.
Drones - the future, it seems, is airborne. That infinite space we know as the sky has been seen as a place for innovative airborne applications. In 2013 Amazon grabbed everyone's attention with the announcement that they had been experimenting with unmanned drones, which would be used to expedite their 'Amazon Prime Air' concept, which promises to deliver items from the Amazon website within 30 minutes.
Will the future promise a sky filled with drones? Amazon has set 2015 as their goal for this concept to become a reality. Prime Air has certainly got everyone talking, so look out for more updates later this year.
Cloud computing - cloud computing took businesses by storm in 2013, with record numbers of businesses using cloud services. 2014 promises an even bigger growth explosion as cloud computing providers make efforts to improve infrastructure, security and platform independence.
2014 looks set to be an exciting time, with connectivity and user experience at the forefront of every design. Multi-tasking is no longer gender specific. Everything now revolves around accessible information which can be viewed from any device and from any location - allowing users to carry out several tasks within minutes. Most importantly, this needs to be done when users are on the move, enabling mobile usage to fit in with their each person’s lifestyle.
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