Photo credit: Lee under CC 2.0

Which tech trends hit prime time in 2015?

We live in very exciting times in tech. For a technological application to succeed, timing must be right. I chose six (hyped) technology trends that will still make the news in 2015. Some technologies were hyped to be the next big thing in the past years, but haven’t reach maturity to have enough impact on the market. Others have past that stage as they find adoption in the mass market and propel company revenues. Here is my take on a few of many technology trends in 2015:

Inspired by Gartner’s hype cycle of emerging technologies 2014

3D-printing: Still Not Ready for Mass Market

3D printing has gained ground over the past years and it has found its legitimization in several industries, esp. in prototyping and production of special equipment or large airplane wings. Frog Design thinks 3D-printers belong in the kitchen. I do not think that this is going to happen any time soon. If they are just talking about sugar-based decorations for deserts, then maybe. Nothing beyond that. The supposedly Pizza-printing machine wasn’t a 3D-printer and any food truly 3D-printed won’t hit mass market for a while.

3D-printing will continue to penetrate B2B markets as long as technology keeps adding quality, resolution, and materials. When it comes to B2C, we are still far, far away from printing those products at home, which we downloaded from Amazon (or Torrent sites). I am looking forward to that moment in the (far, far) future. Until then, we will use this technolgy to make prototypes, special equipment, jewelry, casts, and maybe prostethics.

Drones: Not Ubiquitous, But Partially Accepted

Deliver your parcel by drone in the future! Not gonna happen anytime soon. Amazon and others were testing this in 2014 and it was a great publicity stunt. Whoever bets on the drone market is currently either making toys for consumers or building solutions to serve big companies and governments.

Why do consumers use drones? To take a dronie (drone selfie) on your hike in the Himalayas. Or to let the drone follow you a steep downhill slope—say a GoPro with wings. Some will afford this, some will keep their selfie sticks. Nonetheless, GoPro and selfie sticks have shown that there is money in this segment. This segment will grow. Any other consumer application with drones still has to prove itself in the market place.

Why would companies use drones? Big companies always have a lot of money at risk — be it equipment, infrastracture, or simply their harvest. Drones can help monitor, measure, and secure all these at a low cost. Whoever is in this game will continue to grow massively in 2015.

Internet of Things: Fragmented Silos and Alliances

The Internet of Things is a broad trend (I will get to wearables and hardware later). I believe that the IoT is a massive long-term trend and we are in the middle of it. 2015 will yield more (consumer) products, more investments, and standards where necessary. Inc wrote a good piece on why 2015 might become a strong growth year. However, we are still somewhere at the beginning.

Big corps will try to keep their data in silos whenever it gives them a competitive advantage. In the end, we all know by now that data is king. But will Nest be a unique advantage for Google? I guess not. Would it be for Samsung as they have not only build many products in our apartments, but also build buildings in Korea? More likely. All we know is that there will be open and closed ecosystems. This trend will hardly depend on standards and regulations. Corporate Venture Groups (Inc) are focusing on IoT now as well and I am sure more standards will evolve. Some large companies support OIC some support Allseen Alliance. Germany and other privacy-protecting countries will freak out and regulate it to the bones.

We don’t know yet what will emerge from this mess. Whether we want it or not, there will be a lot of progress on it in 2015 for sure.

Wearables: In Identity Crisis But Large Potential

Wearables have been a big buzz word in the past and I guess it will the buzz word for brands especially in 2015. I could have included this trend in IoT. Though, wearables have emerged as a successful product category within connected devices.

Many startups like Fitbit (step-counters) and Pebble (smart watch) addressed the most obvious applications within wearables. 2015 is the time where the crazy stuff hits the market with smart clothes (the D-Shirt? I don’t think so) or smart shoes (Nike Mag? Would be a grea trip Back to the Future!). Maybe we will be surprised with a great product in this sector. I am open to buy a completely new wardrobe with clothes if somebody nails it.

Hardware Startups: Shipping In Large Volumes

It’s become easy and cheap to create a software company. And it becomes the longer to less complex to create a hardware product as well. Xiaomi, Nest, and other successful startups have brought hardware to market. Thanks to Kickstarter, 3D-printing, and Haxlr8r, smart minds and their ideas have a platform already to become successful. This put pressure on large companies (take Samsung’s problems with startups in the mobile sector in India and China).

I would not be surprised to see many, many more hardware companies mushroom around the world. Hopefully more big corps will follow and show innovation in the hard ware space. Both worlds—start-up and Fortune 500—will also part of the IoT long-term trend. My main question within this business is, though: who’s going to sell the sell shovels in this gold rush? Amazon seems to have just started looking into this.

Big Data: Big Hopes, Big Investments

Last year has been crazy for big data companies not only dealing with their global expansion, but also handling a crazy amount of data. They are making money and rightly so bet it on growing further. This will likely continue at full throttle in 2015. Most of these companies have become mainstream in their B2B and B2C industries. Solutions that handle, analyze, store, or collect large amounts of data will see growth as they ensure to continue monetizing their solutions.

There are rumors around Palantir (gov solutions), Box (storage), Line (messaging), AppAnnie (analytics) and others to head for massive investment rounds or IPOs. I would even include Uber here, as they are in Logistics-as-a-service. Data is key to their success. Uber might IPO, maybe Google buys them for an autonomous vehicle logistics empire. But that’s rather a story for 2016. We will see.

I hope you also have insightful comments about these trends for the year 2015. Please feel free to share it with me on @ricowyder or comment. Here, here, and here are some predictions, I enjoyed reading.

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