Top 5 tech trends for consumers in 2015

The list is based on a NW-Wealth survey conducted in June 2014. (Shutterstock)

Now that 2014 has drawn to a close and all the excitement about the new technological advancements dies down, it’s time to draw up a list of predictions for 2015.
In the field of technology, some new devices, some present additional challenges will have to be addressed, from consumer acceptance to making them more appealing to more people.
According to predictions released by Juniper Research, a research and analytical services provider to hi-tech communications sector, here are the five things that we should expect to happen in the coming year as far as technology is concerned.
1 Wrist wearables will smarten up
While smart watches have now arrived in terms of the main players and device capabilities, they have yet to endear themselves to most consumers.
Releases by big name brands such as Apple and HP will increase awareness in the coming year, as well as a series of smaller releases by less known players.
What recent releases all have in common is an awareness of fashion, showing that an effort is being made by all vendors to make devices aesthetically pleasing.
We can expect the range of aesthetics to increase in the 2015, as other manufacturers release multiple form factors of these watches.
Several vendors are providing notification, fitness tracking and other more established functions in their devices, rather than pushing the limits of the form factor. Several vendors from both the smart watch and fitness tracking markets are moving towards these functionalities, so we expect more devices to be released by other vendors with these capabilities across 2015.
2 Attack of the drones
Civilian drone usage is now ramping up in sectors such as construction, film-making, farming and conservation, while sales are now being bolstered by a burgeoning hobbyist sector.
Meanwhile, the price point of higher end drones (eg. Parrot and DJI Phantom) has fallen to around $400-$500, with mini-drones now available for around $100.
These 2 leading drone companies realised a combined $180 million in sales in 2013, a figure expected to exceed $500 million in 2014 and $1 billion in 2015.
Elsewhere, both Amazon and Google are seeking to use drones for retail distribution. Experts at Juniper Research believe that while commercial retail distribution may be several years away, due primarily to significant regulatory hurdles, the increased adoption in other sectors will have laid the groundwork for acceptance in that arena.
3 Digital health of consumers
With data sharing health and fitness platforms now available from several mobile vendors (notably Apple Health, Google Fit and Microsoft Health), consumers can now take charge of their own digital health management and biometric records like never before.
This trend is expected to boom in 2015, as it becomes standard in new devices launched by the top 3 mobile vendors.
This will, however, take place mostly in the spaces where regulation is not necessary, as the precise limits of the medical use of data generated by mobile devices have not yet been defined well enough to integrate them into existing medical practices.
In addition, where new devices are being used (such as wearables), it will take time for them to achieve full medical certification. However, in areas where consumers hold sway over their own healthcare, from biometric tracking to diabetes management, the tools will be used with greater and greater frequency.
4 Budget phablets, smartphones go global
While phablet games and multimedia consumption has been a feature of emerging markets in the past year, the release of the iPhone 6 Plus will spur new developments in the phablet category for mature markets as well.
With current trends showing that tablets’ are often used as ‘second screens’, the greater availability of phablets will encourage consumers to use a phablet as their primary media consumption device, thus negating the need for a tablet.
However, with price as a key driver in Asian electronics markets, these will not be premium phablets for sale, with more growth expected in the lower end of the market.
This will become more important in developed markets too as smartphone and tablet functionality continues to commoditise. As smartphones, in particular, continue to be seen as status symbols, positioning will continue to be premium for many vendors.
5 Location based services move indoors
Indoor location technology and services will rapidly gain traction. Where previously Wi-Fi was the primary enabler to position a mobile device indoors, its inability to calculate elevation, coupled with errors introduced through signal noise, has meant that using Wi-Fi alone indoors was frequently not accurate enough.
However, with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) Beacons now increasing in number, these can combine with Wi-Fi Access Points while using the device-embedded MEMS (Micro-electro-mechanical-systems) sensors to provide accurate location indoors.


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