High-tech innovations that have marked 2016

This year, many high-tech products and technologies have emerged or matured. Overview of the most striking innovations.

Facebook Live

Launched in 2015 to celebrities, then opened to the public in April 2016, Facebook Live allows anyone to stream live video from the phone. Facebook has taken over this concept popularized by applications like Meerkat and Periscope, and made it unavoidable due to its massive audience of 1.8 billion users. Besides the spontaneity of a live broadcast compared to pre-recorded videos, it is the interactivity that makes this format interesting: Users watching live video can interact with their broadcaster, who sees their comments and requests.

We can understand better its interest during important events. In the night from 15 to 16 July, the military tried to overthrow President Erdogan in Turkey, declaring martial law and taking control of the media. In the next hours, the Turks demonstrated against this takeover and bypassed the blocking of the media by massively broadcasting the events on Facebook Live and Periscope.

Pokemon Go frenzy

For the first time, it is possible to play a Pokemon game on mobile, but with a different function from the titles released on the Nintendo handheld consoles: Pokemon Go uses augmented reality, a feature that adds a virtual layer over the real. Here, the player moves on the real map of the city in which he is located, In search of virtual critters to capture.

The application meets a huge success, which its publisher Niantic did not expect: Pokemon Go was installed more than 500 million times and generated $ 600 million in revenue in just 90 days, a record. The game has since passed its peak use, but it can continue to thrive if it succeeds in maintaining a loyal user base. Pokemon Go has demonstrated the playful interest of augmented reality, and proved that exercising and playing video games is not inconsistent: According to Niantic, Pokemon Go players have traveled nearly nine billion kilometers!

Virtual reality helmets

This year, the promises of a participatory fundraising campaign dating from 2012 have finally materialized: The Oculus Rift helmet is now marketed. It uses virtual reality, a technology that plunges the user into a 360-degree virtual world with which he can interact. Two competitors of the Oculus Rift, since purchased by Facebook, also came out this year: The HTC Vive, which like the Oculus Rift connects to a PC, and the Sony Playstation VR for the Playstation 4. Other models were released before 2016, but they were mostly virtual reality headphones for smartphones like Google Cardboard or Gear VR (Samsung), less expensive but also less efficient and immersive.

Artificial Intelligence Progress

It has been several years since artificial intelligence has demonstrated its interest and continues to progress. But in 2016, several major steps have been achieved in the development of this technology which allows a machine to learn concepts or make deductions, rather than behaving in a way completely programmed in advance, by analyzing vast amounts of data. In March, the AlphaGo program developed by the artificial intelligence firm Deepmind (owned by Google) defeated the multiple world champion of go game Lee Sedol. A fact that seemed impossible a few years ago as this board game is complex.

Concrete uses of artificial intelligence for Internet users have emerged. Especially in translation: The use of this technology by Google for a few months in its translator has allowed the company to approach the level of human translators by reducing its errors by 80%. Even more impressive at Microsoft: The artificial intelligence of the company allows to translate during a call what someone says in another language (available for 8 languages).

The first steps in autonomous car for the public

The technology companies (Google, Uber) or automobiles (GM, Ford) did not wait for 2016 to take the road with their autonomous cars. But since this year, the public also begins to benefit. In the United States, some Uber customers in the city of Pittsburgh, And soon in the state of Arizona, have a low chance of being taken by an autonomous vehicle (always accompanied by a driver in case of a problem). The US Company NuTonomy conducts similar tests with a competitor of Uber in some districts of Singapore.

This is not a fully autonomous driving, but several vehicles already available for purchase have since this year an autopilot mode, generally operating on uncomplicated roads such as highways. This is the case of some models in BMW, Mercedes, and Tesla. But these self-driving programs still have some progress to make, as shown by the fatal accident of a Tesla driver in autopilot mode last June. But the autopilot could also avoid accidents: An American lawyer says his Tesla saved his life by driving him alone to the emergencies while he was pulmonary embolism in the car.

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