EYE ON INNOVATION: Five Tech Trends of 2015

As 2015’s Q4 nears, a brief look at the year’s technology trends is in order. This list includes innovations or trends that have recently arrived or will soon, and is an amalgam sourced from Forbes, MIT Technology Review, CNET and others. In various ways, Proto Labs touches each of these trends.

Computing Everywhere
Most computing these days is in your pocket or purse — that is, in your smartphone. As Forbes reports, “smartphones will be used in new contexts and environments. Along with wearables, smartphones will offer connected screens in the workplace and in public. User experience will be key.”

Smartphones also play a prime role in the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). Along these lines, Proto Labs produces parts for companies serving this connectivity market. For example, Garageio, which is an app for smartphones that allows users to control and monitor their garage doors with their phones, is a past winner of our Cool Idea! Award.

A final note on smartphone use. Several news sources report that the majority of digital media consumption now takes place on mobile devices rather than desktop. Mobile usage as a whole — app and mobile web — totals more than 60 percent, versus less than 40 percent for desktop usage.

Smart Machines
This year, major brands such as Whirlpool, LG, GE and Samsung introduced their latest versions of smart home devices such as washing machines and refrigerators. Plus, we already have cars that help us park, navigate and stay in our lanes.

Proto Labs’ digitally connected manufacturing equipment is, in essence, a network of smart machines communicating with one another. This approach has helped us transform traditional manufacturing into an automated, digital enterprise.

CNET reports that smart machines will continue to evolve, and Forbes predicts that “the smart-machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.”

3D Printing-Additive Manufacturing
The market for 3D printing is expected to grow over the next several years, something we at Proto Labs know a little bit about of course. The expansion will be biggest at the commercial level — known as additive manufacturing — especially in industrial, biomedical and consumer-product applications.

Car-to-Car Communication
This wireless technology hasn’t quite arrived yet, but will soon, reports MIT Technology Review. It promises to make driving safer by allowing cars to “talk to each other to avoid crashes,” says the Review. And why should this matter? More than one million people are killed on roads worldwide every year. Big players are involved in this advancement, too, including General Motors, the University of Michigan and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Proto Labs serves this dynamic, high-tech end of the automotive industry, producing a range of parts for many different companies.

Web-Scale IT
More companies are thinking like Amazon, Google and Facebook, including Proto Labs, which now offers an “Amazon-like” e-commerce portion of our website.

Forbes again: “As cloud-optimized and software-defined methods become mainstream, we’ll see a move towards web-scale IT, starting with DevOps.”

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