The speed of innovation these days can happen in the blink of an eye. As we keep pushing forward, it's easy to forget and disregard how far along we've come. A leap year happens every four years, so why not take this opportunity to take a look at how technology has leaped forward since the last leap year in 2012 and see where it may head by the next one in 2020.
In 2012, a lot of the technologies that have become mainstream and widely adopted today were only at the beginning of their conversations.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a great example of rumblings that have become widely adopted today. In 2012, the IoT prediction focused heavily around Near Field Communication and mobile payments. There were talks of a future with smart technology that would connect the world around us, but it wasn't a widespread idea. Today, the IoT is one of the largest tech trends of 2016. Smart home technologies are available from a number of providers allowing you to turn on and off security systems, lights and appliances from wherever you are using either a controller or your smartphone, even when you aren't at home. Apple Pay and Android Pay are a quick and easy way to make payments in many brick and mortar stores, so you don't need to carry around your credit/debit cards. Wearables that connect to your smartphone and send you notifications and/or track your steps can be found in almost every household. Wearables are even starting to meld with the fashion industry with companies like Ringly and high-end brands like Michael Kors and their new, soon-to-be-released smartwatches.
In 2012, tablets were just starting to come to their own and the first few generations of smartphones took over as the new phone to have. I'm pretty sure 2012 was the year I switched from my phone that flipped open to reveal a qwerty keyboard to the iPhone 4. While smartphones had been out for a short while, in 2012, it wasn't rare for someone not to have a smartphone but today, four years later, it definitely is.
Now that smartphones are widely adopted, it's no surprise that mobility has grown in the past four years as well. On February 29, 2012, 3% of total ecommerce sales were made on smartphones. On February 29, 2016, this number went up to 30% of total ecommerce sales. In 2012, local searches on desktops beat out mobile by 30 billion. In 2016, mobile searches far exceed desktop. Additionally, people use their mobile phones for just about everything including taking photos and videos, traveling, payments, social media and even banking.
Social media has been around for some time now, but it's interesting to look at how it's grown since 2012.
The number of businesses on social media has also grown significantly since 2012, with a lot of companies adopting the need for social media customer service in 2016.
2020 will be the next leap year and we can only expect that the rumblings of today will advance and become widespread by then. Here are some predictions for where we are heading in 2020 based on where we are today in 2016.
By 2020, we expect virtual reality to be a mega industry, projected to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The idea has been around for quite some time, but just this year is it becoming much more of a widespread technology with release of consumer facing headsets like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear. By 2020, VR could be the new technology that consumes everyone, similar to how smartphones consume the population today. VR TV shows, VR school lectures and learning and VR attractions are all highly possible advancements by 2020.
Many car manufacturers have put out claims that they will have driverless cars by 2020. It's no doubt that cars are getting smarter these days with driver assist capabilities like parallel parking and sensors that help a car self-brake. While the technology for driverless cars is already in the works, it seems unlikely that we will have truly autonomous vehicles navigating the streets by 2020. What we can expect is that driverless cars will be more of a tangible reality, with car manufacturers launching prototypes or their first models that show off the technology that will power the future of cars.
While a slew of wearables are already on the market in 2016, we expect this industry to continue to grow, evolve and mold together with the fashion industry. In 2012, smartphones were already starting to permeate society, but it wasn't until 2015/2016 that smartphones started to be used for almost anything and everything (besides making a call). If wearables continue on the same path, by 2020, fashion-forward wearable devices will be used for more than just buzzing with notifications and step tracking.
In addition to these predictions, I'm sure by 2020 there will be new rumblings that will push forward into reality by 2024. It's impossible to know what you don't know, and that new technological advancements all the more exciting.