Transformative Technologies in 2017

13 Jan 2017 - John Shepherd

Moving into the early stages of 2017, it’s clear that the scope and possibilities for creative web development have expanded dramatically.

Fresh architectures and tools can make powerful new technologies available to the masses by making them more convenient to design and implement from client-to-client. This presents a huge new palette of potential products for those looking to advance their current service offering.

In this blog post, two of our resident Developers and keenest technologists have outlined a few of the advances which they believe will present the most significant opportunities in the coming year.

Serverless Architecture

With the introduction of AWS Lambda, Azure Functions and Google’s Cloud Functions we are now able to move towards a serverless architecture.

So what is it? This architecture obviously isn’t really serverless at all, but rather an abstraction layer that gives developers an endpoint to perform a single task or “function”.

Couple this with convenient third party api integrations, and you shift the business logic from something purely server based to the client side, with advance applications now making use of the powerful browsers that run them.

The future potential use of this technology is massive, with a host of function calls doing massive asynchronous processing without the overhead of server architecture or configuration.

As a knock-on effect, the impact on operational costs, scaling, the prototyping of experimental designs, and speedy deployment will also be huge.

Conversational Interfaces

2017 is set to be the year of the personal digital assistant, with Amazon’s Alexa being widely-acclaimed as the hot product of CES - the first big technology expo of the year.

Amazon are aggressively positioning their voice-driven AI and cloud platform as the default user interface and infrastructure for the Internet of Things, with big manufacturers such as Ford, Whirlpool, Philips and Lenovo showcasing products and appliances with Alexa integration.

Screenless, conversational interfaces present an exciting new way to interact with digital content, and their connected ecosystem could quickly become a gold-rush for content and e-commerce providers.

Companies like “Just Eat” and Uber are early movers in the field; I can ask my Alexa-enabled fridge to order me a pizza and book a taxi, but there’s currently no competition for these first-mover companies, and a plethora of e-business and content delivery opportunities remain to be exploited.

With Google and Apple also poised to enter the market, I expect this space to get very busy over the next 12 months!

Machine Learning

Machine Learning is a technology that has previously only been available to large organisations with access to massive parallel computing technology and an army of scientists with knowledge of complicated, maths-heavy computing techniques.

However, the arrival of cheap, burstable cloud computing and recent advances in self-learning algorithms has now brought Machine Learning tools within the reach of everybody, from amateur hobbyist to multi-national corporation.

Microsoft’s release of easy-to-use deep learning tools and cognitive services on the Azure platform is a particularly exciting development. Machine Learning has the potential to disrupt and revolutionise fields as diverse as medical research, fraud prevention, information security and mechanical fault prediction, and I’m looking forward to seeing a new wave of AI-powered applications coming to fruition in the coming year.

Augmented Reality

Immersive Technologies

Sony’s release of the PlayStation Virtual Reality headset in the 4th quarter of 2016 was followed with great interest by industry observers, and widely tipped as being a litmus test for the potential uptake of consumer-grade, fully-immersive Virtual Reality platforms.

Early signs are that the release has been a big success for Sony, with users displaying a higher-than-predicted appetite for VR content.

With Google Daydream and Oculus Gear VR also providing low-cost entry points to the world of VR, we now have a fast-growing audience who are hungry for new content; 2017 should be a great year for Virtual Reality.

Augmented reality is following hot on the heels of conventional VR, with the long-anticipated Microsoft HoloLens finally in the hands of developers and researchers.

This technology allows us to build digital experiences that overlay graphics and virtual objects on real-world environments; for example, a technician could look at a wall whilst wearing HoloLens glasses, and see the hidden wires and pipes embedded within … Or a user could see and interact with computer-generated characters who appear to be present in the same room … Or look through a virtual window into a world that isn’t really there.

2017 is the year when we gain the ability to modify a user’s perception of reality through the use of digital technology - the possibilities are endless!

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