Culture

7 Tech Trends to Watch in 2016

Get ready for a brave new world. In a few years we’ll scratch our heads to recall the days when only our phones were smart. Next year, we’ll see more moves to wire up the world, but also some backsteps in making everything high-tech.

Here are seven predictions on where we’re headed.

7. No 3D Printer under the tree next Christmas.

3D printing is a wedding between computing and manufacturing: building three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file by adding successive layers of material until the entire object is created. There are lots of predictions about how 3D printing will be used to make everything (even your dinner) and change everything, including how wars are fought. That may be. But getting cheap, easy-to-use printers into the hands of consumers is proving to be a challenge. “Printing company 3D Systems plans to discontinue its desktop 3D printer,” reports Fortune, “effectively exiting the consumer 3D printing market just three years.” That’s not a good sign for the future of the 3D printer as a popular consumer product.

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6. No killing the killer robots.

Autonomous weapons that can think and fight on their own aren’t reality—yet. But, the idea is out there. And, the idea of preventing their use is out there, too. UN delegates are going to meet again in April to try to forge an agreement on banning “killer robots.” Trying to stop autonomous weapons research is a bad idea. A ban isn’t likely to be imposed.

5. More hacking the Internet of Things.

All the tech gurus believe the Internet of Things, hooking in everything from clothes to fitness equipment, is the next big thing. But as fast as companies crank out new gizmos, hackers are figuring out how to mess with them. Expect a lot more of the same.

4. Drone users become the new oppressed minority.

As rapidly as commercial drones are showing up everywhere, from accompanying Obama’s motorcade to crashing your New Year’s bash, drone-hating is becoming a big thing. The FAA recently announced that drone owners are going to have register with the federal government. None of it makes much sense. Still, expect more killjoy measures in the times ahead.

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3. Start warming up your robot car.

Car makers actually haven’t been all that great at embracing the potential for loading up autos with new consumer technology. Still, the move toward self-driving cars now seems inevitable.

2. Your wrist will only get smarter.

Now that Apple has broken the wristwatch barrier, expect watchmakers to pile on. Even the cheapest wristwatches are going to include technology upgrades. Pretty soon you will have to hunt pawn shops to find watches that don’t have some smarts.

1. No-tech music makes a comeback.

Few issues are debated with more passion than the future of vinyl. But the marketplace has spoken and the votes are in. Consumer demand for vinyl records is strong and growing, even as more people pluck their everyday music listening from the cloud or livestream it.