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Three Tech Developments to Look for in 2016

A look at what 2016 has to offer in the world of tech gadgets…

Oculus Rift

After years of waiting, virtual reality is virtually a reality. VR has been labelled as the next big thing every year since Marty donned those goggles at the McFly kitchen table over a quarter of a century ago.

Well, industry front-runners Oculus have finally made it happen. Pre-orders for their Rift headset began today (January 6th) with a spring release looking most likely.

Oculus famously raised $2.4m of crowdfunding for their development kit back in 2012 (after initially thinking $500k was a tad ambitious). That modesty proved misplaced when Facebook snapped them up for $2b less than two years later.

Those prophetic Kickstarter funders will be repaid for that optimism with their very own Rift headset free of charge. Classy move.

The firm, who promise to deliver an unparalleled “immersive video gaming experience”, are running slightly behind on the handheld controller device, Touch, but early Rift feedback suggests it will all be worth the wait.

Voice-operated electronics

No, you’re not paranoid: The gadgets really are listening. Voice-operated electronics are poised for a significant leap in accuracy and intelligence this year. In short, voice activation might finally find its voice.

While Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, and Microsoft counterpart Cortana are handy at times, they are not intrinsic to smartphone use (not according to a small WeSwap-dominated sample, anyway).

Voice guidance lends itself much better to devices that still need complex input but are not keyboard-friendly, such as TVs, sound systems, household electronics and cars (no, not to drive them).

Expect the technology to cover a more recreational and educational range of gadgets too, including the CogniToys Dino, a toy that uses IBM’s Watson (as-in Sherlock’s partner) to help answer questions, and Jibo, a talking family robot.

(Effective) Wireless

Form over function is unquestionably the industry-norm when it comes to smartphones and their batteries. Market behemoths Apple and Samsung just simply will not sacrifice those streamline handsets to accommodate a chunky cell.

The Nokia 3310’s lasting legacy remains its unrelenting stamina; but the halcyon days of not charging for 100+ hours were buried alongside Snake 2.

Well this year, the days of plugging our phones into the wall may finally be over.

Starbucks might be world-famous for their coffee but they are already serving up wireless juice on their tables, IKEA has started shipping furniture that does the same. GM, Toyota and Audi have it in cars—or soon will.

As more compatible devices arrive, many will be capable of faster charging speeds than the sluggish rates currently available.

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