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Seven Tech Trends To Pay Attention To In 2016

Tech Trends Taking Over in 2016

Touchscreens, holograms, self-driving cars, automated robots completing manual labor. Do you ever stop and think that we are now living in the science fiction worlds created in the 1980s? What used to be fiction now exists in the real world. Computers that were once the size of entire rooms can now fit in your pocket. Tech growth is exponential, and every year brings new changes to the industry and the world at large. 2016 is no different, and this year things from virtual reality to drones are all redefining the limits of technology. Nearing the halfway point of 2016, here are the 7 tech trends driving innovation this year and changing the way we use technology:

  1. The growth of the freelance marketplace

In the past year or two, the freelance economy has been receiving a lot of press, and for good reason. Currently, there are 53 million freelancers working in the US, and by 2020, estimates show that 50% of the US workforce will be freelancers. The benefits of remote work for both employees and employers have been proven in research, and now with freelance platforms that have expert, pre-vetted talent, there are fewer barriers than ever to keep companies from utilizing the biggest talent pool of them all: the global freelance marketplace.

  1. The popularity of (Chinese) drones

While drones may have seemed like bizarre, expensive trinkets a year or two ago, it’s clear now that they are here to stay. China leads the market in drone technology, solely due to Dajiang Innovation, whose drones account for 70% of the drone market. Yet the drone industry is growing rapidly, investments are pouring in, and new drone-focused startups are springing up like weeds after a spring rain. If government regulation doesn’t prevent the growth of the drone industry, nothing will in 2016.

  1. Blockchain in the financial world

Many people have heard of bitcoin, but it’s blockchain--the technology behind bitcoin--that has the greatest potential. In essence, Blockchain technology cuts out the middleman for transactions of money or information. Blockchain utilizes a public ledger, and each new transaction is linked to the previous one, creating a “chain.” Blockchain’s potential is massive, because it is entirely secure and much faster than any existing structure. It could significantly change the way we approach finance, IP security, collaboration, and more. While blockchain is a young technology, many of the big banks are on board already, and venture capital starting to enter the blockchain space too.

  1. The explosion of VR

Virtual reality has been making headlines since Facebook bought Oculus Rift in 2014, and 2016 is the year that headset will be released alongside two other heavy hitters in the VR market: Sony’s PS VR and Valve’s HTC Vive. With all this hardware finally coming out, expect to see the VR market explode in 2016 as the gaming industry quickly adopts the technology and researchers discover new uses for virtual reality, such as the use of VR technology in therapy.

  1. A new age of crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has been around for almost a decade now, with Kickstarter and IndieGoGo being two of the first companies to push crowdfunding to a larger audience online. In the past, however, people paid money to businesses in exchange for rewards, e.g a limited edition t-shirt, or for the product a company makes. Now, crowdfunders stand to gain a great deal more. Equity crowdfunding just became legal in the US, so now people can invest in a company for a slice of the pie. More than ever before, equity crowdfunding gives people an incentive to invest in a business. In fact, crowdfunding is expected to surpass angel investing in 2016.

  1. Printing in 3D

3D printing is another industry on the verge of a breakthrough. According to research firm Gartner, end-users spent $1.6 billion in the 3D printing industry in 2015, and that figure is projected to double every year through 2018. HP just announced their entry into 3D printing, with a machine that can print 10x faster than any other 3D printer in the market. As 3D printing technology is improved, expect to see new applications in healthcare and construction, such as the printing of dental implants and printing concrete composites, respectively.

  1. Advanced machine learning

With the advent of the Internet of Things, soon machines will have more data than ever to analyze, which will allow them to learn faster too. Already, companies are using machine learning to streamline their business processes, from monitoring markets to documentation and modeling. Google recently announced Google Home--a home device in response to Amazon’s Echo--which is the latest in a long string of devices that learn from their users. In an age where both businesses and users are using machine learning to automate tasks and be more efficient, smart software is an edge that is bringing success and growth in 2016. Keep an eye on these technology trends of 2016 since they will not only be substantial areas of revenue, but they will also change the structure of many industries around them. Are there any other tech trends in 2016 that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments below!

More Stories By Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks is a writer, as well as a tech, social media and environmental enthusiast, living in San Francisco. He is a contributing writer at Forbes, Technorati and The Huffington Post.

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