The new year will see new developments that will shape the way we interact with technology. Here are some of 2018’s most promising technologies that are worth keeping an eye out for.
4K HDR, VR and 360-degree video for football fans
The Fifa World Cup this summer will be a torchbearer for next-generation broadcast technology. The football action in Russia will be captured by cameras in UHD/4K, high dynamic range (HDR) and Dolby Atmos or DTS:X audio. There will be a virtual reality (VR) feed, and 360-degree video-on-demand features. This is the first time a global tournament will adopt these technologies on such a scale. It is, however, still not clear whether broadcasters in India will show the World Cup in 4K.
Air purifiers become more powerful
Air purifiers for your home are no longer a luxury. This year, we are expecting improvements in filter technology, such as the electrostatic high efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filter and the PANDAA filter made by Sharp QNET for more efficiency and longer filter life, and the LG Signature air purifier’s ultraviolet light-based technology that sterilizes water before humidifying it. More affordable air purifiers will adopt similar high-quality filtration technology, making them more efficient.
4K TVs that are better
As a television panel technology, OLED is pretty much the best we have right now. And, as expected, it comes at a cost. However, the price of OLED TVs is expected to reduce considerably in 2018, owing to scale of production. Second, most 4K TVs will adopt the HDMI 2.1 format, which will support Dolby Atmos audio, dynamic HDR, Game Mode VRR for variable refresh rates and support for future 8K broadcasts. If you plan to buy a 4K TV, opt for one that at least ticks off on most of these new specs.
Cryptocurrency is attracting a lot of attention as a new class of assets that you can own. We really don’t know whether this is a temporary bubble or not, but many would probably be interested enough to invest in it. Cryptocurrencies use a technology called blockchain, which is a cryptographically protected distributed ledger that prevents anyone else from making a copy of your digital currency. The currency can be used as an investment (assuming it will be more valuable in the future) or used for cashless transactions in the digital ecosystem.
It is not a foolproof system just yet, because the “wallet” management systems in the chain are owned by third parties—they could get hacked, data could be stolen, or governments could monitor what you considered anonymous transactions. It is quite likely that many countries will start regulating cryptocurrency this year.
Qualcomm’s other mobile bet
They are a household name when it comes to smartphone processors, but it is Qualcomm’s partnership with Microsoft that could really take laptops into new territory. This year, we will see laptops running Windows 10, but powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor—already in many flagship Android smartphones. This means excellent battery life too, and it could finally bring Windows machines close to the Apple MacBooks, and, in some configurations, even surpass them. In addition, 4G connectivity will come as default with these laptops, which means you won’t need to worry about finding a Wi-Fi network, particularly
Fitbit to give competition to the Apple watch
Late last year, fitness wearables maker Fitbit announced its first true smartwatch, the Ionic. It is expected to arrive in India now, as well as in many more countries. It runs the FitbitOS, will have third-party apps and integrates a heart rate sensor as well. This could, in many ways, provide competition to the Apple Watch, particularly considering how Google has gone slow on Android Wear watches and Samsung still hasn’t found the sweet spot with its Tizen-powered Gear watches.
The Homepod will listen
It has taken Apple a while, but when the HomePod smart speaker rolls out early 2018, it will rival Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home speaker line-up, as well as Microsoft’s Cortana-based speakers including the Harman Kardon Invoke. With the virtual assistant Siri, also found in your iPhone, as its foundation, it will listen to your commands and execute them (play music, get the latest news, etc.) and control smarthome gadgets that work with Apple’s HomeKit platform. It focuses much more on music playback quality than any of its rivals. It will be priced at $349 (around Rs22,200).
Drones, finally in India?
Currently, there are considerable restrictions on flying drones in India. In October last year, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) set in motion the process for finalizing new rules that would legalize flying drones for personal and commercial purposes. There will be five classifications, based on weight; some will require permission from law enforcement agencies. Soon, you may be able to fly a DJI Spark ($399). However, it’s too early to imagine Amazon delivering your order via a drone.