Not only did 2015 see technological innovations seen only in sci-fi films - like the connected home, self-driving cars and digital currencies - gain traction, it was also a year of real intent.
Elon Musk declared his intention to colonize Mars, Canadian space company. Thorth Technology, unveiled plans to build a 'space elevator'. Google also announced the development of Project Loon, which could allow people who live in areas currently without internet access to go online. While 2016 is unlikely to see any of these projects come to fruition, it demonstrates how far technology has come.
With this in mind, what should we expect in 2016?
The 'Internet of DNA' to grow in prominence
Murmurs surrounding the 'Internet of DNA' could be heard in December 2014, when scientists started to open their databases online, with the aim to create a global network of genomes, which could generate potentially life-saving information.
So far, around 200,000 people have had their genomes sequenced, which, despite representing steady progress, needs to be improved if doctors are to make important correlations between patients. Arthur Toga, Professor at USC said: 'You can’t get your result with just 10,000 patients—you are going to need more. Scientists will share now because they have to.'
Described by the MIT Technology Review as 'medicine's next great advance', expect sequencing to increase, although doctors might have to wait until 2017 before the Internet of DNA is commonly used.
Tech startup communities continue to grow
Silicon Valley is the best known startup community, home not only to Google and Facebook, but a number of the tech industry's fastest developing companies.
Cities such as New York, Tel Aviv, Berlin and London have taken the spotlight off the Valley to some extent, and this growth is expected to continue in 2016. These hubs are beginning to replicate San Francisco's fear of failure attitude, and they are profiting from the increased ease at which ideas can travel.
According to Forbes, it will be a big year for startups in Shanghai, Tokyo and Bangalore, with the areas becoming less fragmented.
Cognitive computing to develop further
IBM's supercomputer, Watson, first came to prominence in 2011 after it defeated former 'Jeopardy’ champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. It's come a long way since then, being put to use in industries including healthcare.
In the short term, cognitive computing could see the development of robots capable of working in the hospitality industry. Rob High, CTO at IBM Watson stated: 'We believe that this is going to be a pivot-point marketplace in 2016,' adding that the technology wouldn't be used in just a business context, but also in our everyday lives.
Along with IBM, other companies, such as Boston Dynamics, could make real progress in 2016.
The Virtual Reality market to become competitive
The tech industry has had tastes of virtual reality, with companies like Oculus Rift and Microsoft having well documented offerings awaiting to hit the mass market.
In 2016, however, there will be a number of companies releasing their own VR products. Microsoft's HoloLens is expected in Q1 2016, although it's set to cost $3,000. By April, the Oculus Rift and the HTV Vive, which are expected to be cheaper than the HoloLens, will also be available.
As mentioned by the MIT Technology Review, VR technology, will, at first, be a tough sell, but will 'eventually grow into an indispensable, ubiquitous aspect of daily life down the line.'
While these companies are set to battle it out now, Google and Facebook have their eyes set on the longer game. For example, Google's new Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has announced his plans for Google Glass of 2029.