Augmented reality: shopping.
Augmented reality: shopping.
Image: Supplied / Sylvia McKeown

Tech innovation is moving at a lightning speed not seen since the dawn of mankind. It feels as though every week there is an advance straight out of a sci-fi movie - computers you can control with your mind, holograms used in conferences … New things are a-brewing and here are some of those we are the most excited about.

1. SAMSUNG’S FOLDING PHONE

Patents have been filed for a folding phone, rumoured to be called the Galaxy X.  The first images that floated around in November had all the looks of a tiny book folding brick. Although it still seems a tad bulky, the “Infinity Flex Display” aims to be the ultimate phablet, offering you a phone and a tablet that can - somewhat - fit in your pocket. Samsung have said it is coming out in February and will be “a breakthrough in technology”. It will also break the bank as it is expected to cost about R25,000.  We suspect you can also expect a folding Huawei soon.

The Samsung Infinity Flex Display.
The Samsung Infinity Flex Display.
Image: Supplied / Sylvia McKeown

2. IPHONE’S THIRD CAMERA

Images have leaked showing iPhone has finally decided to join Android in the multicamera market. If the photos are genuine, you can expect the next iPhone to have a centre configuration of three cameras on the back. iPhones, overpriced or not, have always been wonderful in the camera department, however, given the innovations from their competitors, it’s easy to see why they would go this route. The fact that they have lost a chunk of money because of their lack of innovation over the past while might have something to do with it too.

iPhone's triple lens.
iPhone's triple lens.
Image: Supplied / Sylvia McKeown

3. 5G AT THE READY

For a while, in South Africa, any form of G was mostly just a tiny temptress on your phone’s status bar that would appear and splutter before reverting back to Edge (E), as you prayed for Facebook to load a little faster in your boring meeting. But the race is on across the world to offer fifth-generation wireless networks.

The theory goes 5G will bring speeds of about 10 gigabits per second to your phone - that's more than 600 times faster than the typical 4G speeds on today’s mobile networks. It is being punted as the harbinger of the fourth industrial revolution - and we can finally have everyone in the house watch whatever they like on Netflix with no lag. Expect a lot of phones to boast they are ready for the 5G revolution.

WATCH | What is 5G?

4. AI FOR EVERYTHING

Speaking of the fourth industrial revolution, if you thought there was a lot of AI out there before, get ready for it to be all over your life. It has already become the go-to for just about everything – even chatbots that help with depression (Woebot) and gender-based violence (rAInbow).

Big companies will increasingly use it to deal with large chucks of data. Use of facial recognition algorithms – Facebook harnessed it for its 10 year photo challenge – is set to increase. AI will be fully integrated into your phone and TV and is making an appearance in fridges. Soon you can expect find AI in your car, shopping trolley, bank and even on dance floors.

5. AUTOBOTS, ASSEMBLE!

Although it will probably be another five years before robots come anywhere near our shores in a meaningful way you will be seeing more innovation in this area this year. This week, an American supermarket chain started introducing 500 googly-eyed robots called Marty to patrol the aisles for potential hazards to shoppers and sound the alert when a clean-up of spilled granola, squashed tomatoes or a broken jar of mayonnaise is needed.

Marty, the autobot.
Marty, the autobot.
Image: Supplied / Sylvia McKeown

6. HOME CONNECTIVITY

In some countries, even your toothbrush is connected to the internet, and the number of connected automated gadgets is skyrocketing, but here we are still lacking in this department.

We do have some form of fibre internet structure, which could support a bunch of automated and connected devices. It would be nice if we could get dinner started and the air con switched on while we sit in traffic on the way home. We don't need to go as far as automated kitty litter boxes that were debuted at CES – the annual tech trade show that took place in Las Vegas last week – but there are a host of more meaningful gadgets which could make our lives easier

7. 4K GOING CHEAP

8K is here in the form of TVs in every shape and size; some the size of a wall and others that can roll up like yoga mats. But, as it stands, you will have to cough up R62,000 to get your hands on one. Plus, it won’t make much of a difference to your HDMI DStv watching experience. If anything, it’ll make your rugby game look worse and not even your Xbox One X is ready for that kind of drama. Instead, this means 4K TVs will be going cheaper. It might be time to nab one of those, even outside the Black Friday hustle.

Image: Supplied / Sylvia McKeown

8. AUGMENT YOUR REALITY

Samsung and Apple have come up with the tip of what is sure to become the iceberg of AR integration in apps that will find a home in your app store and on your screen.

Augmented pets, measuring tapes and dance parties are all coming at you but we’re here for the augmented shopping. Using your phone in selfie mode to try make-up before you buy will hopefully make its way here, now that we have Samsung Pay. The next logical step will be to allow us access to all the fun toys in Samsung’s box. And, although Apple have not used the tech for anything substantial yet, we imagine it’s only a matter of time before they turn their visualise-how-sound-works AR app into a way to sell you a new iPad.

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