2015 has been especially saturated with several so-called breakthroughs “from labs to shops”. This year we came closer to the future and saw the technologies that finally became a reality. It makes us think about the following development trends in the nearest future. So let’s have a look at the remarkable tech.
Particularly 2015 has become a year when driverless cars started to be widely used on public roads. With a driverless taxi project, Google remains the leader in this direction and rumor has it that Google will announce its cooperation with Ford already at the beginning of 2016. The goal of this project deals with the creation of exceptionally secure vehicles that will react to critical situations way faster than humans. Who knows, maybe in twenty years people won’t have to drive at all.
Google is not the only company involved in autonomous cars’ project. The leading automobile manufacturers are busy with autonomous vehicles design. Plus most of the biggest IT companies are working in the same direction: Baidu (Chinese version of Google), Apple (for now it’s kind of secret) and Samsung. Tesla is of course on top.
INTERNET ALL OVER
Today most of the leading IT giants work hard on making Internet connection universally available and extremely affordable. Google will place transmitters on air balloons in order to provide global web access to Indonesian citizens living in hard-to-reach regions (the project is called Project Loon).
Facebook is going to share Internet connection via unmanned aerial vehicles – huge airplanes charged with solar energy and floating on big heights. For now, it’s just an idea.
Another company obsessed with giving people access to the Internet is OneWeb, in cooperation with Virgin and Qualcomm. Their plan is to implement full Internetization of the planet with the help of 900 compact satellites placed on low orbits. This approach promises to be rather expensive, though.
2015 has become a legendary year in terms of new data transmission technology. Li-Fi allows data transfer within short distances, conducted via light waves, with the help of special lighting fixtures and receivers. These lighting fixtures blink very fast so that human eye is unable to see that flickering, which means that fixtures can be used for room lightening. The speed of data transmission is around 1 Gb per second in office conditions. Li-Fi has big prospects but is very unlikely to replace Wi-Fi: data can be transmitted only in the light, which is not always the case.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE + MACHINE LEARNING
In 2015, the leading IT companies and research labs continued their research and engineering works in the field of artificial intelligence, with a prospect of applying this technology in mobile services.
Google AI has learnt how to win in video games while their machine learning system TensorFlow has become open for all interested: the system solves such tasks as speech recognition, smart image search, autonomous mail replies and profound search results in a return to non-typical requests. Microsoft also opened access to their machine learning code. Apple is actively buying profile startups working on AI. Facebook announced the launch of M-virtual assistant using artificial intelligence and working in Facebook Messenger service.
Not surprisingly, such rapid AI-technologies development causes certain concerns. In fact, all those IT companies, secretly developing their own powerful AIs without any external control from experts and society, may lead to unpredictable consequences.
In the era of numerous portable devices, people are always in need of energy. That is why we especially need some breakthrough in the field of battery technologies. Understanding potential profit opportunities, global corporations continued to invest money and all their intellectual resources into new battery technologies design in 2015. Thus, Sony is developing a new type of mobile accumulators working on sulfur electrodes, whose efficiency is 40% higher in comparison with lithium-ion analogues. Meanwhile, British company Intelligent Energy has managed to place a hydrogen fuel cell into iPhone 6 framework, which is believed to let the smartphone operate during the whole week without extra recharges.
Engineers are also trying to increase the speed of charging. Specialists in Huawei have managed to achieve impressive results in that direction and made the charging process 10 times faster. Also, Stanford experts have demonstrated aluminum-ion batteries that can be charged in one minute.
Unfortunately, none of these ideas has commercial realization yet. But we think it’s just a matter of time.
MEMORY AND PROCESSORS
2015 has also been remarkable for a number of small revolutions in processors manufacturing technology. This summer IBM announced the creation of new processors with unique transistors sized 7 nanometers. For your information, currently, most progressive microprocessors are produced under 14-nanometer technology.
Samsung also presented new processors, but for now with 10-nanometer transistors.
Intel and Micron have together produced an absolutely new class of energy-dependent memory 3D Xpoint, which are way much faster and durable than popular today technology of flash memory known as NAND. 3D Xpoint can be used as a system and energy-dependent memory. HP and SanDisk are also working on that technology.
2015 has been quite a productive year, hasn’t it? We’ll see what 2016 will be like.
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