2016: A Year in Technology
With the year drawing to a close, we decided to take a look back at 2016 and the technologies that have come to prominence in the last 12 months, both in the wider world and at Kyria.
From Microsoft's expanded rollout of the HoloLens to the huge overnight success of Pokemon Go, it's been impossible to escape Augmented/Mixed/Virtual Reality in 2016. While this technology has been knocking on the door of society's conscience for a while now, it was this past year that saw it become mainstream. 2016 was the year consumers started buying into the technology through Snapchat "lenses" and Sony VR Headsets, and companies like Apple signalled their intent to heavily invest in Augmented Reality.
While Kyria isn't quiet at the stage of popping headsets on and conducting every meeting in a virtual world, we do see the benefit of including augmented reality in our SIMPLE product. With a pair of Augmented Reality glasses/goggles, a warehouse worker can pick orders easily, quickly and safely. It's a perfect match between technology and business needs and something we're keen to move forward with.
Drones have been everywhere in 2016. They've captured stunning video footage, they've been fired into the sky to create a shooting star show, and very soon they could be delivering your latest purchase from Amazon to your doorstep. Drones offer a unique set of advances to a variety of different areas of work. Drones don't just offer videographers better ways to film the countryside or big businesses the ability to cheaply and quickly make deliveries, they have been used on everything from archaeological digs to construction sites.
And in 2016, drones were a hit at Kyria too, though on a smaller scale. As part of a project to build our own quadcopters during lunch breaks, we saw the first outdoor flight back in March. The next step is to build one that can do our coffee run for us.
ChatBots and Artificial Intelligence
People like to talk, and technology in 2016 has reflected that. Whether you're asking a Chatbot on Facebook Messenger where to buy a new pair of shoes, or checking with Google Assistant what time your flight is, talking to a computer has become a normal part of life. While Apple's Siri was introduced back in 2011, the past year has seen this field of technology take-off. Since the end of 2015 we've seen Amazon Echo and Google Home released, Facebook Bots become fully part of the online retail experience, and Twitter saturated with bots for the 2016 Presidential Election.
Over the past 12 months, this field of technology has made an impact at Kyria too. We proposed an undergraduate project to investigate a chat bot application for one of our customers, and we're currently investigating other ideas for how the Microsoft Cognitive Services can be used to deliver new functionality for our customers.
When Technology Fails
Of course, not all technology news is positive, and 2016 has seen its fair share of negative tech stories. Perhaps the most infamous of these technological fails was the Lithium-ion battery fiasco with Samsung Note 7. Exploding phones and losing billions of dollars is generally considered a bad thing. For more on the history of the Lithium-ion battery, you can check out last month's blog post.
In September Microsoft suffered a global outage on its Azure cloud platform, resulting in problems for businesses all around the world, including Kyria. In fact the crash occurred on the same day as Kyria's bowling night out with a client to celebrate their successful migration to Azure. Now that's timing.
And talking of Microsoft, no look back at a year in technology would be complete without a personal story of hardware failure. Our Managing Director Howard Perkins is now on his fourth Surface Pro of 2016. Here's hoping the latest one is still working when we get around to writing a tech review of 2017.