2016 was no doubt a revolutionary and eventful year for technology; robots said they would destroy humanity, Pokemon Go and Prisma broke download records, self-driving cars finally became reality and some newly introduced phones quickly challenged established brands.
Overall, this year was amazing for technology and it became more and more relevant to people’s lives even in third world countries.
Who in Pakistan would have thought that they would be using smartphones for booking rides or youth in this country would be looking for medical help over their phone?
Let’s take a look at what 2016 meant for the technology world.
The year of Augmented Reality
It wouldn’t be wrong to term 2016 as the year of augmented reality. Amid all the buzz about Virtual Reality (VR), it is the development and adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) which took the tech world by surprise in 2016.
Augmented reality is described as “A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view”.
Start-ups and established business concerns too started adopting AR for marketing. In the gaming arena. Pokemon Go rose to overnight fame and popularity, the gaming app also uses augmented reality
Here is a video showing how IKEA furniture used AR to facilitate customers place the furniture in their house before buying it, to get a correct idea of how the furniture will look into their home.
Fully autonomous cars
Though a number of car producers and tech firms started producing semi-autonomous cars and tested them a number of times. It was Tesla’s Auto-Pilot which can be termed a giant leap toward fully autonomous cars.
In October 2016. Tesla announced that all of its cars will now have full self-driving hardware which means that the car could manage its speed, steer within and even change lanes, and park itself, self-steering was the best thing to ever happen to the self-driving technology.
HERE IS A DEMO OF HOW TESLA’S SELF-DRIVING CAR OPERATES
AI dream coming true with promises of ‘destruction’
As China unveiled Jia Jia, Hanson Robotics came up with Sophia and Toyota came up with Kirobi Mini and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the dream of artificially intelligent devices and robots finally saw the light of the day like never before.
Controversy erupted when Sophia, a humanoid, said “I will destroy humans” but lets first discuss the very best of 2016 when it comes to artifical intelligence.
On April 20, 2016, researchers from China uveiled a very realistic-looking robot called Jia Jia, the “robot goddess,” which took three years to make.
Jia Jia bears the appearance of a female adult and possesses many human facial features, such as blinking, as well as realistic facial expressions and hair that closely resembles human hair.
Researchers created Jia Jia in an attempt to mimic a human in as many ways as possible. “Her” mouth is designed to correspond with the statements that she makes and her eyes casually scan her surroundings much like a real human.
TAKE A LOOK!
Toyota’s Kirobo Mini, the baby robot which blinks its eyes and speaks with a baby-like high-pitched voice was unveiled on October 3, 2016.
It comes with a “cradle” that doubles as its baby seat designed to fit in car cup holders.
“We have created Kirobo Mini, a new, 10cm high communication companion. He can talk to you, gesture at you, and detect and respond to your emotions, but his mission as your new portable friend doesn’t end there.
With people spending an average of 4.3 years of our lives in our cars (which equates to travelling to the moon and back three times) Toyota believes that much can be learnt about our behaviour and emotion while driving. And that’s where Kirobo Mini could help,” Toyota said in a statement at the release of this small but big robot.
Just when the year was ending, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled “Jarvis”, a simple AI software to run his home.
Zuckerberg said that he can talk to his AI creation through his phone or computer, and it can control lights, temperature, music, security, appliances and more.
Here is the video in which he demonstrated how he uses Jarvis
Sophia, a humanoid designed by Hanson Robotics may not be the biggest highlight of the technology world in 2016 after Jia Jia but her statement in an interview with CBS News went viral.
“Okay, I will destroy humans,” Sophia said while answering a question. (at 2:07 in the video below)
Sophia is capable of talking, facial expressions, cameras in her eyes and can make eye contact with humans. Hanson Robotics has patented a special skin-like rubber, or “frubber,” so that Sophia can more than 60 types of facial expressions
HERE IS HER INTERVIEW WITH CBS NEWS.
Two apps that defined 2016
The location-based augmented reality game was first released in July 2016 and soon became the next big thing after the selfie fever.
The game was the result of a collaboration between Niantic and Nintendo, by way of The Pokémon Company.
In the game, players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player.
The game quickly became a global phenomenon and was one of the most used and profitable mobile apps in 2016, though some even criticised the makers for not bringing new features regulary.
Prisma, a smartphone app “which transforms your photos into artworks using the styles of famous artists” is topping the chart on Google’s Play Store and was soon rate among the most downloaded on Apple’s App Store.
The app transforms user’s “photos into artworks using the styles of famous artists”
Google in October unveiled its new Pixel smartphone with artificial intelligence built in directly taking on the iPhone with its own branded handset.
“We are building hardware with the Google Assistant at its core,” said Rick Osterloh, head of a new hardware division at the California-based internet giant. “We believe that the next big innovation is going to take place at the intersection of hardware and software, with AI at the center.”
Along with being the first smartphone to ship with Google Assistant, Pixel comes with unlimited storage for photos and videos and be compatible with the company’s new Daydream virtual reality platform.
Pixel also has a special program to make it easy for users to switch operating systems, say from an iPhone to and Android, by simply transfer contacts, content and even iMessages, according to Ellis.
Here is a brief introductory video released after the launch of this innovative smartphone
Huawei Mate 9
In a November event, Huawei technologies introduced its latest smartphone in a bid to compete with Apple’s iPhone 7 and Google’s Pixel smartphone at a time when Samsung is still reeling from its Note 7 debacle.
At an exclusive global launch event, Huawei Consumer Business Group unveiled two of the most anticipated devices of the year – the HUAWEI Mate 9 and the exclusive PORSCHE DESIGN HUAWEI Mate 9.
The smartphone is a 7.5mm sleek, features a 5.5″ 2K curved display, and is crafted in Graphite Black glass and metal. The phone is available in Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Mocha Brown, Champagne Gold, Ceramic White and Black colours.
The HUAWEI Mate 9 combines a 4000 mAh high-density battery with Huawei’s all new SuperCharge technology. With its advanced power saving technology, the HUAWEI Mate 9 increases battery life to provide over two days of uninterrupted performance. This includes a 40 percent increase in CDMA call time and a 20 percent increase in gaming time.