FrogDesign’s Respected Trends of 2015 List Released (Part 2)

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Now it is time to continue with part 2 of yesterday’s article from Mistbreaker News and FrogDesign. You will find that there are quite a number of interesting indicators regarding where our continous technological progress will bring us. The technological trends of 2015 are undoubtedly exciting!

As a first note for our readers, Mistbreaker always strives to produce easliy digestible news regarding complex topics, but sometimes it is unavoidable that articles do not reach an immense length. Therefore, to avoid endless scrolling, we decided to devide this article in two parts. The first part of this extensive list (trends 1-7) is just a click away, so please check it out as well if you want the full picture of what to expect regarding the tech trends of 2015. Here we go with the numbers 8-15, enjoy your illuminating read.

8. Personal Darkness in the Spotlight

Secure messaging had the reputation of being for shady people. But ever since a series of high-profile hacks in 2014 laid bare the private lives of several celebrities — as well as thousands of civilians — there has been massive interest in messaging (voice, text, photo, and video) that is meant to be fundamentally secure from snooping. A new set of products emerged to take up this challenge, including everything from personal data vaults, to secure encrypted calls, to video chats. Expect to see even more platforms that make it easier for you to live anonymously online.

For instance, the community solution Silent Circle was built to offer the world a simple and affordable option to the widespread collection and rampant monetization of your personal data. Silent Circle subscribers’ transmissions are private and encrypted end-to-end to and from their mobile devices and computers.

Together with another privacy embracing startup, called Geeksphone, Silent Circle has been focused on bringing what is called the Blackphone to the market. According to TechCrunch, the main features of the Blackphone Android handset are a set of privacy-focused apps, including Silent Phone and Silent Text for secure, encrypted telephony and messaging — using Silent Circle’s secure network — so that only you and someone also using a Blackphone or using Silent Circle’s service on another device are privy to the contents of the messages.

Additionally, SpiderOak is a US-based online backup tool to back up, share, sync, access and store data using an off-site server. SpiderOak is accessible through an app for Windows, Mac and Linux computer platforms, and Android, N900 Maemo and iOS mobile platforms. The company allows the user to back up any given folder of his/her computer. The software uses encrypted cloud storage and client-side encryption key creation, so even employees of SpiderOak cannot access users’ information.

As a final example, The Dark Mail Alliance is an organization dedicated to creating an email service with end-to-end encryption. The project involves the expertise of convicted hacker Stephen Watt. According to Wired, Dark Mail ambitiously aims to revamp existing email structures to hide metadata such as “to”, “from” and the subject while still making the system universally compatible with existing email clients.

9. 4D Printing Assembles Itself

Imagine a factory in the future where the parts of a product assemble themselves, or where physical objects can adapt to a user over time. For instance, a 4D-printed chair could become more comfortable over time, or become stronger at stress points, instead of breaking. What if? This is the aim of 4D printing, a field popularized by MIT’s Skylar Tibbits and his self-assembly lab. We’re on the verge of seeing explosive progress in the world of 4D printing. Expect to read about advancements in the field in the near future.

So, more descriptively, using a new technique known as 4D printing, researchers can print out dynamic 3D structures capable of changing their shapes over time. 4D-printed items could one day be used in everything from medical implants to home appliances, as Live Science reports. Put quite straightforward, 4D printing involves 3D printing items that are designed to change shape after they are printed.

For instance, Kinematics from the design studio Nervous System is a system for 4D printing that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules. The system provides a way to turn any three-dimensional shape into a flexible structure using 3D printing. Kinematics combines computational geometry techniques with rigid body physics and customization. Practically, Kinematics allows us to take large objects and compress them down for 3D printing through simulation. It also enables the production of intricately patterned wearables that conform flexibly to the body.

Other interesting companies to check out within the area are the considerably larger corporations Stratasys and Autodesk.

10. Digital Currency Replaces Legal Tender

Digital currencies, including crypto-currencies, will thrive. Governments are exploring frameworks and systems to regulate and manage digital currencies, which will make their ubiquity in our everyday financial vernacular more profound. Ecuador’s Congress recently approved a reform to create a digital currency, and the New York State Department of Financial Services is considering establishing virtual currency exchanges. The UK government is calling for information about the benefits and risks of digital currencies. We can expect digital currencies to be used interchangeably with legal tender, giving birth to a frictionless, agile, universal payment system that will expand beyond the current banking ecosystem.

Check out the initiatives by clicking each link:

11. The Rise of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What if your app and wearable device could not only diagnose your sleep apnea, stress, and anxiety, but also provide clinically proven treatments? While wearable health activity trackers were all the rage in 2014, the future will see the rise of therapeutic solutions: data-tracking hardware paired with clinically proven software that simulates cognitive behavioral therapy. These new solutions will address chronic behavioral conditions, from sleep disorders to stress and anxiety.

One company that could figure as an example of this movement is Lantern. According to The New York Times, the company aims to combine mobile and online tools with remote nudging from a professional to help users tackle troubles like anxiety, sleep problems and poor body image. The service links users with licensed therapists who check in with their clients, initially by telephone and then via secure electronic messaging.

Moreover, Olive is a wearable device that monitors your stress levels and suggests ways to de-stress when needed. As reported by PSFK, Olive tracks your body’s biological indicators of stress by analyzing your heart rate, skin temperature, body motion, and reactions in your skin. Olive can also measure your skin conductance, which indicates your body’s level of emotions and excitement. The stress-relief device also monitors your physical activities and sleep patterns and can be synced with your phone to identify even more lifestyle factors contributing to stress such as your schedule and location.

As a final example, Sleepio from BigHealth is an app that provides a personalized, evidence-based way to help overcome poor sleep without pills or potions. Yahoo Finance writes that Sleepio imports sleep data from fitness tracking devices such as the Jawbone UP and will integrate with HealthKit iOS 8 when available, to provide users with a clear and current overview of their sleep profile. This data, with user permission, then fuels a highly personalized sleep program to help promote better thoughts and behaviors.

12. Textiles get Techy

Your everyday items will be getting an upgrade. More and more companies and designers will create innovative smart textiles embedded with new technologies and sensors, which will impact everyday lives by monitoring health, behavior, and the environment. This year the hottest wearable device might just be the shirt on your back.

According to Business Insider, Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered a way to hide large objects from sight using inexpensive and readily available lenses, a technology that seems to have sprung from the pages of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter fantasy series. The so-called Rochester Cloak is not really a tangible cloak at all. Rather the device looks like equipment used by an optometrist. When an object is placed behind the layered lenses it seems to disappear. However, previous cloaking methods have been complicated, expensive, and not able to hide objects in three dimensions when viewed at varying angles

Additionally, the French company Cityzen Sciences won the CES 2014 Inclusive Innovation in Everyday Health award for its development of a Smart Sensing fabric woven with integral micro-sensors – these add the practical benefit of monitoring the health and fatigue levels of the wearer, as reported by GizMag. The Smart Sensing fabric reads body heat, respiration rate, heart rate, and motion through location via GPS. The new fabric combines sensors, fabric, distributed computation, and a small battery-powered transmitter into a unit that links in real time to a smart phone.

13. Adaptive Education Personalizes Learning

Adaptive technologies will become omnipresent both in and out of the classroom, providing students with the ability to learn content at their own pace and potentially test out of areas when they are ready. Real-time data will lead to more actionable items for students and teachers—allowing for a personalized path to success.

As a first example, the company Knewton has for several years been on a mission to democratize top-tier, personalized education around the world. According to TechCrunch, Knewton’s analytics engine is able to map each student’s strengths and weaknesses over time, which then both enables teachers to identify and predict knowledge gaps and personalize instruction and tailored content to each student’s individual learning path. Over the past year, the company has generated close to two billion personalized recommendations for students.

Moreover, DreamBox Learning is an online software provider that focuses on mathematics education at the elementary and middle school level. The company provides pre-kindergarten through 8th-grade students with over 1,800 lessons presented as animated adventures, games, and challenges. The Wall Street Journal reports that the DreamBox apps can tell how well a student knows an underlying math concept, and will provide individually tailored content according to his or her needs.On the back-end, the app sends reports to teachers, principals, school districts or parents about how well their students are doing.

Also, Kidaptive is a company which has created an app called Learner Mosaic. The app offers parents personalized insights into how well their child is progressing based on their behavior and activity within Kidaptive’s applications, and soon, within other third-party applications that tie into the platform, as well. As TechCrunch writes, the idea is to create a platform where educational apps for kids can actually assess how well they teach children the skills they claim to, and then provide parents with a toolkit to understand where their child is in terms of that skill development. Learner Mosaic then offers tips and activities for parents so they can get involved to help their child progress further.

14. Achievement Unlocked: You’re Hired!

Hiring is time-consuming. To save time during the hiring process in 2015, more companies will turn to video games to evaluate job candidate nuances such as creativity, problem solving, and collaboration. Candidates’ game scores will be measured against scores of successful employees, making hard data — alongside subjective opinions from hiring managers — an asset to predict success.

An interesting company to watch in this case is called Knack. In most job interviews the employer relies on a lot of superficial information like a piece of paper with accomplishments, how the candidate might answer a few questions, how they dress, what they look like, and how they speak.  None of these things really give us much depth into the person we are hiring regardless of how clever you want to get with the interview questions. According to Forbes, the team that designs the games at Knack is comprised of behavioral and data scientists, software and game developers, and game designers and artists.  They look at hundreds of variables during game play such as how long you hesitate, what part of the screen you touch, the moves you make, and many other things. In fact they collect multiple pieces of data every mili-second.  The result is a comprehensible list of “Knacks” which are essentially the qualities that make you who you are and if you are fit for hiring.

15. Micro-farming Networks go Mainstream

Everyone will grow their own organic lettuce and trade it on a local social network for other types of vegetables. Our habits around food production and consumption are undergoing a radical shift, from wider adoption of CSAs to the prevalence of organic food, consumers are taking control of how and what they eat with new smart food technologies. Several companies are designing easy-to-use and aesthetically pleasing hydroponics and aquaponics systems for the home, which will allow anyone to manage a mini-farm with a smartphone. Greater food autonomy is on the horizon.

For starters, Niwa is a smart food tech device which will turn your house into a smartphone controlled greenhouse. The product is essentially a small, slick-looking hydroponic farm you can set up to grow plants of every stripe in your living room. As Motherboard explains, Niwa is based in hydroponic technology – a soilless way to grow plants, where the plant is taking nutrients directly from water. The most important part of Niwa is its brain – a powerful microcontroller loaded with custom made software which has all the knowledge of an experienced farmer, so you don’t need to worry about when to water your plants or what is the ideal temperature to get more juicy tomatoes.

Moreover, we can have a look at a quite different technology and a company operating a different field but could help distributing the fresh food of small-scale producers (and also of course larger ones). San Francisco-based startup PantryLabs has begun selling its smart sensor-based refrigerated vending machine, known as Pantry, to enable businesses—such as health-care facilities, restaurants and other food sellers—to dispense fresh food automatically. The Pantry has a built-in RFID reader to track the items stored inside the unit via tags affixed to food packaging. The RFID Journal reports that the company initially has 1,000 of the kiosks available for pre-orders. PantryLabs developed the solution to allow users to monitor the food inventory inside vending machines, view alerts to restock those machines, and prevent products from going out of stock, thereby reducing sales.

Additionally and seemingly related, but maybe on a quite larger scale in the present, Deep Thunder is a research project by IBM that aims to improve short-term local weather forecasting through the use of high-performance computing. It is part of IBM’s Deep Computing initiative that also produced the Deep Blue chess computer. Deep Thunder is intended to provide local, high-resolution weather predictions customized to weather-sensitive specific business operations. For example, it could be used to predict the wind velocity at an Olympic diving platform, or where there will be flooding or damaged power lines in up to 84 hours in advance. Farming will also undoubtedly benefit greatly from this technology. Deep Thunder’s ability to forecast wind events and precipitation rates will also inform farmers about other critical processes, including planting, feeding, and harvesting, according to Datanami.

Thank you for absorbing this current knowledge, we hope you enjoyed your read (both part 1 and this part of the extensive list). Whether you are just generally interested, an investor or an entrepreneur looking for opportunities, it is always good to keep track of and get inspired by the technologies shaping our world. Keep on doing what you are doing!

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