Friday, 31 January 2014

Driving The Future of Technology

Driverless cars have been at the forefront of the media recently and could well be one of the top revolutionary technologies to be launched on the world in a very long time.

We love apps, gadgets and computers, but driverless cars is exciting stuff and something we should all be interested in.  They could be hitting our roads very soon and their key benefits include:

  • Massively reduced emissions
  • An increase in productivity and could boost the economy
  • End the trouble of congestion in a world that seems to get busier
  • Help the disabled and elderly to become more mobile
  • It could save around a million lives every single year

The car changed the world some 100 years ago with its introduction and the driverless car could do the same again. These benefits could solve a lot of the problems we face on our roads over the coming years, which is an extremely exciting prospect. People who enjoy the experience of driving may disagree with those that just see a car as a way to get from A to B though.

Although this sounds extremely simple, it is a lot more complex than this, which is partly why the idea hasn’t been produced at any point prior to this. There are problems facing the driverless car which will take some ironing out, including the sudden dart out of an animal in front of the moving vehicle for example. Most human drivers would react in such a way as too try and swerve around the animal, whereas the driverless car may not as it's interest is in keeping the driver safe. Grim as it may sound, technology is never perfect and people will need to understand that.

Anyway, this is a small speed bump and should not stand in the way of an idea that is absolutely incredible and one that could completely revolutionise the car market and the environment. This invention could very well be up there with the transformative technology for the next 50 years. All we know is that this is something we will be keeping a close eye on for the next few years.

We would love to know your thoughts and opinions though. Do you think driverless technology is a good idea or not? Leave your comments below.

Friday, 24 January 2014

30 Years of The Mac

This week we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Apple Macintosh - the piece of kit that kick-started the revolution of the PC.

January 24th 1984 is where it all began for the Mac with its 9-inch display, 128k of RAM and 8MHz 68k all-in-one processor. Who knew that this would open the floodgates of technology, three decades of them.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced this Mac to the world which also boasted two revolutionary applications in the MacPaint and the MacWrite word processor.

A year later the Mac came fitted with two exclusive apps courtesy of Microsoft – Word and Excel. A couple of other milestones were achieved in the next couple of years too, with the Mac getting a major upgrade in 1986, called the Macintosh Plus. This model then had to make way for the Macintosh llx, which possessed a CD-ROM drive – one of the first at the time.

In 1989 though, the first Mac laptop was born which was another forward step for Apple. The following year Apple introduced its fastest computer to date, which resulted in the company claiming 20% of the computing market. For the next few years the Mac was to become faster, stronger and even more popular, selling its 10 millionth unit in 1993.

At this time, Microsoft was also climbing in popularity and power with the company claiming Windows was being used by over 25 million people. After the introduction of the PowerPC chips in 1994 and Apple licencing its OS in 1995, Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1996 after having left over 10 years earlier. He brought with him, his NeXT step operating system which helped Apple to become the company we know it as today.

1998 made way for a new era of Mac; the iMac. Apple had persuaded Bill Gates to buy $150 million worth of shares in the company the previous year, which made more people take the company seriously. The iMac had ditched the floppy disk drive and opted for easy internet hook up and USB which really took the world by storm.

If we take a leap to 2004 when the year was dominated by the iPod, the Mac had a complete revamp with floating LCD screens and hemispherical base which is how we recognise it today. The UK’s first Apple store opened in London. This was arguably the turning point in the future of Apple Mac’s, bringing a series of introductions including the MacBook, the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro and the Mac Mini to name but a few.

The Mac Pro was released just last year and 2014 looks set to bring a number of revolutionary pieces of equipment and gadgets, including the iWatch, better Apple TV, the iPhone 6, the iPad Air 2, a cheaper iMac and a brand new MacBook Pro.

An impressive journey and one that we salute; 30 years and counting for the Mac.

Friday, 17 January 2014

A Change In The Way We Pay

Loyalty cards, credit and debit cards, and good old cash in a wallet has been the same for the last 20 years or so, but that is all about to change.

Some big names in the tech world could be trying to convince us to ditch the metal and the plastic and to opt for new ways to pay.

Just a few days after it was announced that total online sales has risen year-on-year to £11.1bn in December last year, it is no wonder that the likes of Google and Apple are coming up with ways to appeal to the mobile audience.

Digital wallets are just another technology advance that consumers can expect to see in 2014. In fact Google’s wallet service will allow users to put money on their phone to spend in-store, as well as being able to spend it online too. This software will transform an Android phone into a contactless card with near field communication technology.

Similar to Google, Zapp make sure that there is an app for that.  Zapp is a system expected to launch in the autumn which will be made available to 18 million UK account holders. If you hold an account with HSBC, Nationwide, Santander, First Direct or the Metro Bank, you will be able to shop with the Zapp app, which claims to be more secure than card payments.

This clever little app will allow consumers to use their smartphones to pay for their purchases in 2014, making cards and cash seem like a thing of the past. This system will only allow people to pay for purchases made online initially but they expect the app to be branched out to in-store shops not too long after.
Square is another way for us to pay, and this is an idea created by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey’s aim is to remove cards altogether but this small appendage plugs into a headphone jack of any mobile phone and allows merchants to swipe cards through it in order to take a payment. After a high-profile deal with Starbucks, that means a lot of people could be using this method of payment.

A lot of people have been worried about the security of these methods though, but there is no doubt that this new way to pay will be another technological advance to look out for in 2014.

Friday, 10 January 2014

'Watch' This Space

2013 bought a revolution to us in the smart watch, but 2014 could bring an even better mobile revolution.

During CES 2014, it looked like the smallest gadgets were going to steal the big show when huge focus was turned towards technology worn around the wrist.

Wearable technology isn’t a new thing but CES 2014 gave us an insight into exactly where wearable technology is heading and how devices look to move beyond just a wristband with limited functionality.

Many people may already own the likes of Nike Fuelband SE and JawBone Up, but with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Gear last year, we could be in for some exciting gadgets. The LG Lifeband Touch, for example, comes fitted with a sensitive OLED display allowing you to track your distance walked, how many steps you have taken and is able to keep a close eye on your heart rate too.

This clever wearable is more than just a fitness sensor though, in fact, it can be paired with an Android or iOS smartphone through Bluetooth to show your incoming phone calls and your message alerts.

Another clever bit of kit that gained a lot of interest was the Razer Nabu. This water-resistant wristband is jam-packed with sensors tracking your movement and even allows you to monitor your sleep quality. This device also shows calls, messages and emails, but the Razer Nabu stands out because it possesses not one, but two screens.

When it comes to technology, Sony are never that far away and they too introduced a new wearable piece of kit in the Sony Core. Although it also focuses on fitness tracking, Sony hopes to launch an app alongside this wristband to keep a log of your life. This will allow you to keep track of the music you have listened to, the pictures you have taken and the social updates you have posted.

There were more wearable’s other than wristbands on show though and one of them was Epson’s cheaper alternative to Google Glass, the Moverio BT-200. This pair of smart glasses are fitted with motion sensors, Dolby Digital surround sound and a decent resolution display.

Well, 2014 looks like it could be the year for wearable’s.

Friday, 3 January 2014

What Will 2014 Bring to the Tech World

So, 2014 is finally here and we can reflect on a year that was full of gadgets that hit the tech world by storm. But, without reflecting too much on last year’s technology, can we begin to look forward to an even better year?

We will have a look at some of this year’s possibilities and pieces of tech that will light up the industry (literally).

Technology never stops moving and this is what we can expect in 2014:

1. Our Tablets Will Get Bigger

The likes of the iPad Mini and the small-screen Nexus 7, were just a little phase. Samsung looks to be bringing out a massive 12-inch Galaxy Note. If that isn’t big enough, Panasonic looks to introduce a 20-inch ToughPad with 4K resolution – perfect for photographers, architects and well, anybody. As tablets look to replace many laptops and computers it will mean we will spend less time squinting and more time surfing.

2. 3D Printing Will Kickstart A New Era

In 2014 alone, shipments around the world of 3D printers is predicted to grow by 75%, which is then likely to double again in 2015. 3D printing could prove to be a game changer in the design world and has rapidly collected a highly anticipated reputation; one that makes us very excited. Printing black text on to white paper is such a thing of the past.

3. Smartphones Could Get A Backbone

Our favourite smartphones could gain the ability to bend, improving their claim to be ‘unbreakable’. We have already seen examples of this type of screen and the smart watches released last year gave us a little glimpse of what’s to come, but 2014 could see the real growth of ‘bendy’ screens.

4. Video Looks To Dominate The Web

Like the bendy screens, we have already seen plenty of examples that video is taking over the web and more specifically, social media. With the introduction of 4K TVs and video support, viewing your favourite funny compilations on your favourite devices could become even more high definition. With everyone looking to stream video content at home, at work or out and about, our networks are likely to improve too.

5. Smartphones Will Remain Top Of The Tree

Regardless of the publicity surrounding the likes of Google Glass, Galaxy Gear and other wearables, smartphones will look to remain the cream of the crop and will dominate the consumer markets. With new features in their plenty and ease of access, smartphones look to grow stronger in 2014 and the race for the top manufacture should really hot up this year. We can’t wait.