Facebook's Oculus Rift will kick off the virtual reality revolution.
For gamers and sci-fi lovers, the long awaited moment will arrive in Q1 of 2016 when Facebook-owned Oculus finally ships the Rift virtual reality headset. The Rift is the product with the best chance of bringing virtual reality to the masses, which explains why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was willing to pay $2 billion to buy the company in 2014. The headset must be paired with a heavy-duty PC to work its magic, and the final price of the Rift is still unknown, but people who have tried prototypes have been blown away by the experience.
Apple could release a small iPhone for people who liked the old iPhone's size better.
Not everyone wants a giant screen. The rumored Apple iPhone 6c could offer something smaller, and cheaper. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the mini iPhone would feature a 4-inch screen and the same A9 processor that’s currently in the iPhone 6s, though it might not include support for 3D Touch. The iPhone Mini could be unveiled in March, according to many reports.
Google Project Ara would let you snap components onto your phone like Legos.
Imagine being able to snap on components to your phone as easily as playing with Lego toys. That's the promise of Google's Project Ara, which aims to let you customize your device by adding pieces like a better camera, extra memory, and even special sensors to do things like test if drinking water is clean. Making this a reality is not so simple. Google had initially promised a limited "market pilot" of the technology in 2015, but has since pushed the date back to sometime in 2016.
The Starship Technologies robot will deliver stuff to your doorstep.
It may be some time before Amazon's delivery drones are ready to air-drop packages on your doorstep, but two of the cofounders of Skype have created ground-based robo-vehicles to deliver packages. The six-wheeled electric vehicles can carry the equivalent of two grocery bags (in a locked compartment), traveling on sidewalks to deliver cargo within a 3 mile radius. The droid uses cameras, sensors and maps to navigate autonomously 99% of the time and will launch the first "pilot" services with partners in the U.S. and U.K. in 2016.
Microsoft HoloLens will turn the world into a hallucinatory vision.
Ever since Microsoft showed off a prototype of its augmented reality HoloLens glasses earlier this year, the tech world has been abuzz. The glasses use holographic technology and Microsoft's Windows 10 software to overlay digital images onto the wearer's view of the real world. A user can stare at their living room wall and see digital objects, from video games to video conferencing. More importantly, the user can interact with the digital objects. An early version of HoloLens will be available to developers in 2016 for $3,000. Consumers may have to wait until 2017.
GoPro's Karma drone will shoot super-high-def video from the air.
Video camera maker GoPro is going to take to the skies in 2016 with the release of its first drone, which is called Karma. The company has not said much about the actual drone other than posting a video that appears to show footage shot from the air. But reports speculate it will be a quadcopter boasting 4K video capture resolution and image stabilization, among other things.
The next Apple Watch will have a camera and more sensors.
Apple's second take on the smartwatch will be unveiled in March, and could ship by April, according to Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac. The new version of the watch is expected to feature a built-in video camera, allowing for quick FaceTime (or "wrist time") video calls. There are also rumors that the watch could support special "smart bands" packed with sensors that can do everything from monitoring blood pressure to body temperature.
Microsoft's rumored Surface Phone could be the company's last chance in smartphones.
Microsoft's last best hope of becoming a player in the smartphone market may rest on the Surface Phone. The rumored device, which has not been officially acknowledged by Microsoft, is nickmaned the "Panos Phone," in reference to Surface boss Panos Panas. According to a report in Windows Central, Microsoft is still experimenting with different designs and form factors. Chipmaker Intel may also be involved. In any case, the phone is not expected before the summer of 2016.
Facebook at Work will let you talk to your colleagues like your Facebook friends.
No more sneaking onto Facebook during work hours. A special version of Facebook, made specially for the workplace, is expected to launch in 2016. Facebook has been testing Facebook at Work with a a few hundred companies for much of the past year. The work version is almost exactly like regular Facebook, but tweaked slightly for a corporate environment. Facebook plans to launch the product for free and will offer premium features that businesses can choose to pay for.
Google has gone back to the drawing board after halting consumers sales of the much-maligned initial version of its headmounted gadget. The Glass team, which has been renamed Project Aura, is now working on two separate versions of Glass: A version for companies to give workers, and, according to The Information, a sporty, audio-only consumer version that eliminates the screen entirely.
Microsoft Surface Hub is a gigantic touch screen computer.
Scrawling on white boards is so 2015. In 2016, workplace meetings will take a step into the future with Microsoft's Surface Hub, a gigantic multi-touch display that uses digital ink technology. The Surface Hub will come in two sizes — 55-inch screen and 84-inch screen — supports custom version of Skype videoconferencing, OneNote and Microsoft Office software and includes wireless keyboards and special pens. But it's not cheap. The 55-inch model will sell for $8,999 and the 84-inch model will sell for $21,999 when they go on sale in the first quarter of 2016.
The Apple iPhone 7 will be popular no matter what it's like.
Like the changing of the seasons, you can bank on a new Apple iPhone coming out every year. The latest version of the iconic smartphone is expected to be called the iPhone 7, and should be unveiled in September. Among the rumored changes are a thinner form factor, which Apple may achieve by eliminating the phone's headphone jack and replacing it with a proprietary Lightning port connector. Another rumor had Apple ditching the phone's physical Home button, and using in-screen 3D touch technology instead, though subsequent reports have indicated the technology may not be ready in time for the iPhone 7.