Digital predictions for 2016: a year of true connectivity

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As a new year gets under way, we ask a selection of people involved with digital activity at MMU to share their predictions for 2016.

“For Manchester in particular, 2016 will see the beginning of significant activity around connected devices (the ‘internet of things’). A city-wide consortium made up of large technology companies, innovative SMEs, universities and the public sector has been successful in attracting £10m of research funding to establish an internet of things demonstrator on Oxford Road. This has the potential to impact on everything from healthcare to public transport and smart street lighting, and many other things yet to be devised.

“For me, this is a bit like looking back to the beginnings of the internet in as much as we know this is an important emerging platform, but it is difficult to imagine what uses we can find for the internet of things. What we can say with certainty is that these are exciting times and it’s great that Manchester is at the heart of it.”
Paul Bason, Director, Digital Innovation, MMU

“In 2016, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will go mainstream. The launch of VR products and their applications will bring this technology to a wider audience.”
Dee Vyas, CMALT, Classroom Technology Teaching Adviser, Learning Innovations, MMU

‘In 2016 we’ll see the open source learning management system Moodle being used as far more than just a repository. It will become more of a learning hub where students will have access to a wealth of resources that will enhance their learning opportunities while studying at MMU.”
Colin McAllister-Gibson, TELA (Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor), Learning and Research Technologies, Faculty of Science and Engineering

“We’re going to see a big rise in the number of digitally enabled objects (think ‘internet of things’) that have the capability to reflect our behaviours in the real world as actions in the digital world. Instead of typing words into Google and looking at the results, it will be possible to search via a physical action, and intelligent results will be returned to us that have a meaning in the context of the original action.

“We’ve seen it in the growth of Google Now, where the app guesses what I’m up to based on where I am. Add to that the time of day and day of the week, and the search engine can make assumptions about my context and supply me with information that it thinks will be useful to me.

“This gets very exciting for marketers, because we can really target products and services to offline behaviours. Add in digital behaviour capability to things like clothes, devices and so on, and your whole person can be the input device to the search engine. They say that SEO is dead, but really it’s the results page of Google which is on the way out. A whole new world of ‘Search’ is coming.”
David Edmundson-Bird, Principal Lecturer in Digital & Social Media Comms, Associate Director for Digital Innovation at MMU

“The big trend in 2016 will be social media refuseniks. I have already committed Facebook suicide by gently backing out from everything. (Although a. Facebook don’t make it easy, and b. No-one seems to have noticed.)” 
Professor Steve Hawley, Associate Dean Research, Acting Head MIRIAD Research Institute, Manchester School of Art

“Go-Pro is synonymous with action video but I predict that 2016 will see its demise. Apple, with its design team under Jonathan Ive and manufacturing networks honed by CEO Tim Cook, will take over this market and produce a really compact video camera.

“Apple has proved it can pair a wearable with a capable phone with Apple Watch, so an action video camera might just be a natural progression. It has been rumoured that Apple would acquire Go-Pro but the company has enough in-house talent to make its own.

“This comes at a cost, though. The Apple product line is really growing and it’s getting hard to keep up with all the models, software updates and services you need. Steve Jobs famously culled the product line to have one laptop and one desktop for both consumer and business classes. The current product line-up is edging towards the situation that saw the exit of former Apple chief executive John Sculley in 1993.”
Peter Gough, Senior Lecturer in Dental Technology, MMU; author of the app RPD Online’; Shedcast Podcast co-presenter

“In 2016 there will be a lot of grassroots activity in the area of the internet of things, due to the drop in cost of network infrastructure and devices coupled with greater power efficiency and longer range. Digital communities will start to implement their own networks around a ‘commons-based’ approach. This will enable both urban and rural communities to develop services for themselves.

“This year will also be an important one for ‘open data’. The commission set up by government to look at whether the Freedom of Information Act needs to be reined in will report back in late February. It is expected that they will recommend that the scope of FOI should be curtailed. This will potentially impact on the type of data that is made available and on the public’s right to know about the decisions and decision-making processes of government and other public bodies.”
Julian Tait, co-founder Open Data Manchester and The Garden

“This year will be the year of true connection. It will be a big one for the internet of things and Manchester is going to be right at the heart of its development. With the city receiving £10m worth of investment for the CityVerve project, we’re going to see lots of exciting activity in this area. And with wearable tech being intertwined with the internet of things, there’ll be lots of intriguing development here, too.”
Hayley Walsh, Project Coordinator, Digital Innovation, MMU

Image: courtesy of Pixabay