review of a year is tough. What were the important aspects? What items were
revolutionary rather than just evolutionary? What should be left out? Looking
back over technology for the last year was tough. There are so many
technological advancements made every day it is hard to narrow down the list
for a year. Keep in mind that last year the ten highest patent lodging companies
had 36,108 patents amongst them. That is almost one hundred patents a day from
only ten companies.

of that is a way of saying go easy on me if I leave something out you think
should be mentioned!

of the major technology items in the news this year was the spontaneous
combustion of batteries. Lithium-Ion batteries are used in millions of devices
across the world because they can store relatively large amounts of energy in a
small space. Unfortunately, the movement of particles inside the battery causes
heat to build-up and, in a poorly designed battery, the heat can damage the
thin walls that keep the different parts of the battery separate. Cue
Hoverboards (I don’t know why they have that name as they don’t actually hover
– but that is an article in itself) at the end of last year; HP notebooks in
June this year and the biggest battery story of the year, the Samsung Note 7
which was released in August this year. The recall and then subsequent complete
withdrawal of the product will cost Samsung an estimated US$17 billion.

2016 was the year of the battery.

Reality (VR) has been talked about for many years and different launches and
claims have been made over the years – but this year finally saw the rubber hit
the road in the VR world. Competition always drives better solutions and the VR
world is no different. With Oculus Rift; HTC Vive; Microsoft HoloLens and the
Playstation VR headset in addition to devices made to work with smartphones
such as the Samsung and Google headsets the world of VR has started to become
real – in a virtual sense. They aren’t perfect yet but, having tried a few
different models, they are certainly very good.

we will look back in years to come and say that 2016 was the year that VR was
launched into the mainstream.

vehicles are edging closer to reality but, despite Google cars driving over
three million kilometres in self-driving mode, there is a still some way to go
before we will be able to tell our car to drop us off at the pub and collect us
at midnight. A Tesla driver is unfortunately no longer with us having died in a
crash while the vehicle was in autonomous mode so, apart from public
confidence, the engineers admit there are still minor issues to be rectified
before we could declare any year as the year of the fully automatic car.

has been the case for many years, apps were launched for our smartphones that
delivered solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had. With over one
million different apps available, you could be excused for thinking that there
are no big opportunities left in the world of apps. That logic would be
reasonable until an app came along that only took nineteen days before it was
downloaded over fifty million times and has now been downloaded over half a
billion times. With more first week downloads than any other app in the history
of the Apple App Store, there would be a reasonable argument to say that 2016
was the year of Pokémon GO.

simple passcode you put on your phone to stop your friends picking up your
phone and sending random texts to people in your address book seems like a good
idea – until you can’t remember the code you used. Many people think it is a
simple matter of taking the phone to your local retailer or supplier and asking
them to unlock it. Syed Farook was one of the shooters involved in the San
Bernardino attack a year ago that left 14 people dead. When the FBI recovered
his locked iPhone, they thought it would be nice if Apple unlocked it for them.
This was the FBI after all and this person had randomly killed US citizens. The
information on his phone could deliver critical information. Apple declined due
to its policy to never undermine the security features of its products. That is
taking security seriously.

2016 was the year of recognising the importance of security.

considered a few of these significant technology aspects of 2016 and looking through
many more potential items that could have made the list, it is hard to define
this year by any one technology component. If I had to pick a theme for the
year, I would say 2016 was the year of technology itself – just like so many
before and so many that will come after.

Christmas to all of the readers of this column. I hope that Santa delivers you
lots of electronic gadgets and I look forward to talking about more technology
in 2017.

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