From modular phones to wireless chargers, technologies that are expected to go mainstream soon
Altough there is no fixed dates of when they will be available, but it is on the cards.
Wireless charging for laptops
While we have wireless charging available for smartphones, tablets and even smartwatches, it has not been introduced for laptops. The reason behind this was that the tech is not powerful enough to charge a laptop battery as fast as a wired charger -this means it will take a long time to charge the large battery that laptops use. However, the technology has improved over the years to deliver a faster charge. Intel recently showed off its wireless charging solution for laptops that delivers four times more power than a standard wireless charging mat. This means your laptop will charge as you place it on your desk.Another company called WiTricityhas tied up with Dell for wireless charging solutions -Dell showed a demo of the tech last month at Computex 2016.Although we don't have a fixed date of when this feature will be available for laptops, it looks like we might get it as soon as next year.
Self-driving or autonomous cars
The issue with self driving cars is that they rely on precise virtual maps for directions these are difficult to create on a large scale. Self-driving cars use a LIDAR system that scans the area around the car to generate a 3D map that works in conjunction with maps for an accurate drive and aids in avoiding any collisions.Google's self-driving car project has been around for a few years and they have also been successfully testing them in San Francisco since last year. Google aims to offer this technology to users by 2020.Going a step further, Tesla has already added self-drive capabilities to their cars which are available for users to buy from October 2016 itself. Ford has also tied up with BlackBerry to provide software for their autonomous cars that are expected to be launched by 2021.
Hardware for precise touchscreen interactions
Touchscreen are now common on many devices that we use, be it laptops, phones, wrist wearables, car audio systems and even home appliances. However, only a few devices offer precision touchscreen interaction a few examples include the Samsung Note series of phonestablets, Wacom tablets, Apple iPad Pro and high-end laptops that use Wacom technology for pen input. The use of precise touchscreen control is not just limited to professionals anymore with more and more users now preferring this technology for device interaction. Microsoft showcased the new Surface Dial at its October event -this is a small dock that works with the Microsoft Surface Studio PC's touch-screen to offer advanced multi-touch functionality. We are hoping similar devices that allow for improved touchscreen control will be launched by other brands within a year.
Keyboards & touchpads with oled screens
Many computer users still prefer to use a keyboard and touchpad compared to a full touchscreen interface. Having a touchscreen does have some advantages -you can use gestures for control, easily select an item via a tap and improve your productivity via multitouch. Apple included a touch-sensitive OLED display on the new Macbook Pro -the display can show you contextual buttons depending on the app you use.Apple might introduce a keyboard for its iMac systems with a similar touchbar soon. Lenovo launched its Yoga book laptop few months back also that has a touchscreen panel instead of a physical keyboard that can be used with fingers or with a stylus. In the future we can expect more devices to offer this kind of hybrid physical and touch input now that Apple has started the trend.
Modular phones, TVs and game consoles
Most of us would have heard of modular smartphones -Google tried this out but has now shut down the project while others such as the Fairphone are available. In India, we have the Motorola Moto Z and MotoMods. It's safe to assume that we will see more modular phones in the future. The idea did not stay confined to the phones -Xiaomi announced a modular SmartTV last year with the Mi TV 3. The Mi TV 3 has two components -a display panel and a removable TV bar that houses the speakers and hardware for smart functionality which can be upgraded when needed. While other brands have not followed suit to Xiaomi, we are hoping that the idea will pick up sooner or later. The latest in modular devices is the Nintendo Switch -a gaming console that can be used standalone or docked into a station to work like a TV console. Even the controllers are modular -you can attach them to the Nintendo switch in stand-alone mode to act as a game-pad with left and right control, use them wirelessly for motion control like the Nintendo Wii control lers or even as individual controllers for multi-player gaming sessions. Going ahead, more and more categories of devices are expected to experiment with this kind of modular form factor.
Toys that interact with you
Board games are now a passé -more and more children are being exposed to digital entertainment early on.This is why toys are also evolving from the standard boring versions to a smart interactive toys that use a simple form of artificial intelligence.A great example of this is the Anki Cozmo -a palm-sized robot that can identify and speak out names of its user. It works with an app and you can play various games using it -Cozmo has daily challenges to accomplish in the games you can play with it making this robot toy reminding you to play and interact with it. There are other interactive toys also available that are not as smart as Cozmo -Sphero BB-8 and Vortex robot are also interactive toys that show how toys have evolved for the tech-savvy generation of today.With AI being one of the major areas of focus for a number of companies, we expect more smart toys to launch in the coming years -you just might have your personal `Wall-E' by 2020.