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As posted on 7 technologies that thrilled us in 2016 and how they’ll change in 2017

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Every year, innovators and disruptors push the boundaries beyond what we previously thought was possible by introducing new and exciting products to the masses.   

From all-knowing AI assistants and drones that can transport us, to glasses that record video and a screen that can bend, last year was no different.   

Tech in 2016 was all about changing the way we experience the world, expanding what our devices can do and developing new ways to make our lives just a little bit easier.   

We’ll revisit the top technology that thrilled us in 2016 and explore why we were so obsessed. Then we’ll look ahead to make our best predictions at what 2017 might hold for these seven game changers.  

Integrating video into wearables 

Wearable technology got a big boost last year thanks to Snapchat Spectacles, a pair of sunglasses that allow you to spontaneously record circular video and upload what you’re seeing straight to Snapchat. Tech enthusiasts agreed in 2016 that sometimes less is more: these simple and stylish eyewear-ables may only do one thing, but they do it well.  

Looking ahead: Currently, the only way to get your hands on a pair of these glasses is via the Snapbot vending machine, lending an exclusive allure to this fun toy. As more people get access though, there’s no doubt they’ll become more widespread. We predict a wider range of styles, limited edition designs by artists and influencers, and maybe (fingers crossed) a way to capture stills with the next iteration.  

Image: LILI SAMS / MASHABLE

The smart home becomes a reality 

AI-powered digital assistants became more popular in 2016, with Google Home joining the ranks of Amazon Echo and Apple Home (which uses Siri by way of the iPhone). Long the stuff of science fiction movies, these voice-activated devices continue to thrill us because they’ve finally made smart homes a reality. Order a cab, play music and tap into the expertise of the internet without ever lifting a finger.  

Looking ahead: The home will become even brainier this year, with everyday devices like toasters, refrigerators and televisions using AI to greater effect. Case in point: the family-friendly Triby, a smart speaker by France-based company Invoxia. It’s one of the first third party devices to employ Alexa, with many more sure to come.  

Image: LIZ PIERSON / MASHABLE

Evolution of the drone 

When it debuted at CES in 2016, the Ehang 184 passenger drone drew quite the crowd. And for good reason: according to Chinese drone company Ehang, this 500-lb drone can fly one person at about 100 miles per hour for roughly 23 minutes. The flight path is programmable, with the drone taking off and landing at pre-set targets. Think of it as your personal, self-flying helicopter.  

Looking ahead: A new way to commute? Though not exactly legal (yet!), Ehang is in talks with regulatory bodies in places like Australia and the United States. The possibilities for passenger drones are vast – and complicated. Expect to see lots of discussion in 2017 about the future of our skies and how we can safely adopt this new technology.  

Image: Lance Ulanoff / Mashable

The latest innovation in video display 

TV screens just keep getting cooler – and more flexible. With bendable, pliable options coming on the scene, screen time is becoming more innovative than ever. LG’s OLED display prototype, which debuted at CES in 2016, is 1 millimetre thick, 18 inches in diameter and pliable enough to be rolled into a tube. 

Looking ahead: The company’s goal is to bring these to market within the next few years, forever changing the way we store and transport the humble TV. This technology could be applied to all sorts of future displays – from computers and televisions to tablets and even as a new way to experience newspapers and magazines.  

Image: LILI SAMS / MASHABLE

A more efficient way to dry your hair 

Here’s an industry in need of some disruption: hair salons. The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer packs an incredible amount of power into a tiny motor, with a sleek, innovative design that makes it impossible for hair to get caught or burned. The tiny digital motor located inside the handle spins at an impressive 110 RPM, so fast, in fact, that the sound it makes is almost impossible for humans to hear. The result is a powerful, concentrated stream of air to help dry hair faster. 

Looking ahead: Priced at a cool $399, this is not a tool for the budget-conscious. Here’s hoping for a lower price point in 2017.  

Image: Lili Sams / Mashable

The next generation of earbuds 

When Apple announced in September that the iPhone 7 would be devoid of a headphone jack, fanboys and girls all over held their collective breath. But with the release of Apple’s wireless AirPods, all was right again with the world. The sleek ear buds connect to your phone via Bluetooth and include Apple’s W1 wireless chip for easier pairing. When not in use, they can be stored in a dental floss case-sized box that doubles as the charger. 

Looking ahead: The only potential snag with the Apple AirPods is how easily they could be misplaced – whether that be at the bottom of a backpack or down a storm drain. In 2017 we’d love to see some smarter solutions to keeping these little beauties from getting lost.  

Image: Liz Pierson / Mashable

Long-anticipated VR device hits the market 

After completely destroying its Kickstarter campaign goal in 2012, the Oculus Rift VR headset finally hit the market in 2016. Thankfully, it was well worth the wait. Now owned by Facebook, the Oculus Rift headset and Touch controllers combine to create a truly immersive VR experience. The future is now.  

Looking ahead: At the moment, VR headsets must be connected via HDMI to a nearby computer or console in order to work, but both HTC and Oculus have promised that wireless versions are in the works. This year, expect to see more solutions from third party vendors, like KwikVR, for a tetherless VR experience.  


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