As we’re moving into the new year, we’re currently exploring which technologies will impact our lives in 2016. This week we're taking a look at the rapidly advancing sectors of artificial intelligence and computer generated environments, as well as the future of food; as breakthrough technological research is moving from the lab into our homes, workplaces and cities.

A much debated topic, the advancement of AI is often cited as bringing unprecedented changes to society. “It's likely to be either the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity, so there's huge value in getting it right”, cited Stephen Hawking. Where is AI headed in 2016? How will fields such as machine learning, smart robotics, and deep learning progress and impact our lives and business over the coming year?

Additionally, virtual reality research has been building momentum over the past few years but will 2016 be the year we finally move into a virtual world? How will virtual reality change the way we communicate with our homes, communicate globally, and experience a new level of entertainment?

What are the most exciting food trends for 2016 as we continue to focus on sustainability, efficient production and managing increased demand for produce?

Here’s our list of the key technology trends we’ll see a lot more of in 2016:

Virtual Reality

“Momentum has been building for years, but 2016 is the year that virtual reality will truly take off. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, Sony’s PlayStation VR (formerly known as Project Morpheus) and HTC Vive headsets are all expected to go on full consumer sale within the first three months of the year, with Microsoft’s augmented reality headsetHoloLens’ developers kit set to follow shortly afterwards, meaning it’s going to be nigh-on impossible to avoid talk of immersive experiences and latency-induced nausea over the next 12 months.

However, the development and subsequent adoption of VR is one of themost exciting areas in technology right now, opening up incredible advances not just within gaming, but education, empathy-training and healthcare, and transporting us from our living rooms and offices to another world entirely. Virtual reality will change our lives, and 2016 is just the beginning.” - The Telegraph

Read more:

  1. Virtual Reality Expected to Generate $5.1 Billion in 2016 - IGN
  2. Will 2016 be the year virtual reality gaming takes off? - The Guardian
  3. This was the last year of VR's beta test - The Verge
Virtual Assistants

“An increasingly hot topic over the past six months, the rise of AI will continue into 2016 with a number of advances. Covering both large scale and mobile devices though personal assistance offerings such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now, we’ll see a number of advancements in this space, reducing need for human input for mundane daily tasks.

This will also increase our computers' learning about our habits and needs, therefore predicting desired outputs before we have requested them.” - The Drum

Read more:

  1. 2016 predictions: Home IoT, digital personal assistants to take off? - NetworkWorld
  2. New year, new friend in chatbots - San Diego Union-Tribune
  3. Robot helpers are on the rise - LA Times

Join the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco on 28-29 January to find out how intelligent virtual agents will impact society and business in 2016!

Connected Car

“Cars will be much more personalized in 2016, thanks to algorithms and context-aware software. Besides promoting easier and safer driving, this trend will manifest in applications that will answer queries and provide assistance in identifying the nearest parking place, the best place to have dinner and optimal routes..

This might sound similar to what our smartphones can do but it’s actually a big step beyond.  Context awareness and learning algorithms will enable cars to differentiate between a work day - when getting to meetings on time and finding the closest parking lot or a valet are paramount - versus personal time, when we might be willing to make different choices. For instance, find a cheaper parking spot that minimizes walking time or locate your closest favorite restaurant.

Another aspect of personalization expected in the industry is the car’s ability to act like their drivers. The driver’s persona and preferences – to be more specific their avatar – can be moved from car to car.  Cars will understand and adapt to their driver’s behavior and preferences. This trend ties with the way millennials prefer to opt for car sharing or leasing instead of buying a vehicle.” - TechCrunch

Read more:

  1. The Current State of Connected Cars - Quoted
  2. 10 top car tech trends for 2016 - T3

“2016 seems likely to be the year that autonomous drones finally, well, take off. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration released regulations for registering drones at the end of 2015, and it is testing technology that could help automate air traffic control for automated vehicles.

While you might not see the skies filled with drones immediately, expect increasingly smart and autonomous drones to be tested in many industries, especially ones where automated surveillance and inspection is useful. And if companies like Amazon, Google, and others have their way, then perhaps some of next year’s holiday gifts might even be delivered through the air.” - MIT Technology Review

Read more:

  1. The Tech That Will Change Your Life in 2016 - The Wall Street Journal
  2. 2016: The year of the business drone - The Next Web
Future of Food

“The face of agricultural innovation is changing, as farmer knowledge networks and information communications begin to define research and development processes as well as technological dissemination. Food Tank will release a new report in 2016 on Democratizing Innovation, describing the ways in which farmers are innovating, transferring knowledge to their peers, and leading the charge for a more equitable and sustainable food system.” - Food Tank


  1. The Future of Food: 16 Most Exciting Stories for 2016 - Food Tank
  2. Will Scientists Determine the Future of Food? - Vogue

2016 is going to be an exciting year for exponentially advancing and rapidly accelerating technologies. The real question is, what problems can we solve?

Upcoming events include: