2017 Tech Predictions: Ian McMurray, Connected Home+Business

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If you can predict something that will happen in 2017 that no-one saw coming in 2016, you’re in the wrong job. What we’ll see next year will be more of what we saw this year. But it will be better. Trust me, says Ian McMurray.

LED and OLED

For outdoor advertising, LED has become pretty much the de facto standard. Nothing else is as bright from distance – even in bright sunshine. It also has the advantage of being incredibly resilient.

What changed? Pixel pitch. Now, they’re down below 1.0mm. What that means is they’re perfectly viewable from close up – making them appropriate for indoor applications. The fact that it is a bevel-less technology, and that it’s inherently modular, could really challenge LCD in 2017.

OLED? It just delivers incomparable image quality. Plus you can roll it up, or tape it to the wall, or whatever you choose. It’s inching towards prime time – and 2017 may be the year it arrives.

Narrow bezels

Big flat screens are getting more and more affordable. The problem with them is a logistical one. An 84” screen, for example, probably won’t go through the door. Who wants to hire a crane to install a screen?

I’ve always been a big fan of videowalls. For many applications, they’re infinitely preferable to those monster LCD panels – if it weren’t for those pesky bezels messing up an otherwise pristine image. (That’s less the case for DLP-based videowalls, of course, but those have a depth disadvantage).

But: help is at hand. Bezel sizes have shrunk consistently over the years. This year, they’ve reached 3.5mm (maybe even smaller). 2017 will see them get even less. How low can they go? It’ll be interesting to see.

IoT

2017 won’t be the year when the Internet of Things ‘arrives’. Almost by definition, it’s a journey rather than a destination. But in the coming 12 months, it will unquestionably gather pace.

More things will get connected. More things will gather data – tons of the stuff.

And here’s the beauty of it. For the Internet of Things to become a reality, it will need to morph into an Internet of Services. All that data will be washing around, crying out for entrepreneurs to turn it into useful, actionable information.

The IoT is a key enabler for predictive analytics – and if that doesn’t change everything, I don’t know what will.

The Cloud

Wave goodbye to local programs and local storage. All you need to know is that what you want to do, can be done, and that your data is easily accessible, and safe – somewhere or other.

It doesn’t matter what part of the AV industry you’re in – unified communications, digital signage, education, healthcare, whatever – the cloud will be playing an increasingly important role in everything you do, whether the cloud in question is private, public or some hybrid model.

It facilitates collaboration/information sharing – and the increasingly mobile nature of our lives. It’s affordable. Flexible. Scalable. Secure. It’s even environmentally friendly. What’s not to like?

Microsoft Surface Hub

OK, I admit it. 2016 wasn’t the year when the Surface Hub went stellar. It didn’t exactly get off to the best possible start, with shipments delayed to a year after it was first announced.

But I remain a believer, because it ticks all the boxes. It’s the right product for the right time, as collaboration and agility become the watchwords for today’s businesses. As a piece of hardware, it’s just fine – easily good enough, with the right feature set. In Office 365, it has perhaps the ultimate killer app to back it up.

And best of all? It has the Microsoft name on it. What IBM used to be to the world of corporate IT, Microsoft is today. For many corporations, that alone makes choosing the Surface Hub a no-brainer.

And as a Windows user since 3.1, it pains me to say that.

About Ian McMurray

Ian McMurray

Ian joined the tech industry back when 4K wasn’t the latest screen resolution – it was as much memory as a computer needed. In 1996, he was responsible for launching TI’s DLP technology into Europe, and has been closely involved in the AV industry ever since, becoming a freelance writer about it more than 10 years ago.

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