1. Gamified learning
We’ve written a lot about gamification this past year as a way of increasing engagement within digital applications. Gartner predict that more than 70% of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one gamified application by the end of 2014.
More sophisticated devices, such as Oculus Rift, will start to bring immersive experiences into more everyday use, making for memorable learning.
2. Wearable tech
It all kicked off in 2013 with wearable tech, with devices appearing from all over, designed for all kinds of purposes. Hopefully 2014 will be the year we’ll start to see a cluster of polished products come into mainstream use. It’s been speculated that Google Glass is set for public release later in 2014, although no announcement has yet been made.
The Pebble smartwatch (funded by Kickstarter, see below) and the array of fitness wearables, such as Jawbone, look set to continue doing well next year. Wearing such technology is a strong statement, and these digital trends are going to have to look a lot better if they are to be a hit on the mass market.
Crowd funding hit the big time in 2013 – a trend that shows no sign of easing off. Kickstarter, Crowdtilt, Seedrs and the like have been winning the cash of keen individuals and angel investors in equal measure. Meanwhile, online crowd sourcing idea generation sites such as Marblar may see their first joint effort reach market.
4. Online content
It seems fairly clear that online content will get even more interactive in 2014 as demand magnifies. The generation and viewing of online video looks set to ramp up a gear, with help from Twitter’s Vine, Facebook’s Instagram, and Snapchat’s video messages. Making and watching videos online – especially bite-sized ones – is faster and easier than ever. And video could become interactive too as more content is tagged and can be commented upon or added to.
There will be a shift in how we’re viewing it too, as more and more people access the internet using ever more powerful tablets and smartphones. Mobile access currently accounts for one in five web visits — by the end of 2014 it will exceed one in four — a big shift in digital trends.
Nanotechnology research will continue at a marked pace throughout 2014 and beyond. This vast and rapidly expanding field of research may see the 2D ‘wonder material’ graphene enter commercial electronics.
Samsung and Apple have dropped hints that this one-atom-thick sheet of carbon that is not only the strongest material ever discovered, but can also carry currents with a density one million times that of copper could be coming to a touchscreen near you soon. Replacing the conventional indium-tin-oxide electrode, graphene could initiate the dawn of bendy, interactive touch screens we have all been imagining for so long.
6. Autonomous vehicles
In 2014, Volvo is set to lead the world’s first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project. 100 self-driving Volvo cars will use public roads in everyday driving conditions around the Swedish city of Gothenburg, endorsed by the Swedish government.
Although just a trial, this project will confront the reality of whether an autonomous vehicle can cope in real traffic situations, and interact with other drivers. The project also aims to find out how confident passengers feel in such as vehicle, and to analyse whether autonomous vehicles could improve traffic efficiency and road safety.
It’s going to be a big year for gathering space data. In July, OCO-2 will replace the defunct Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) in an effort to map our planet’s carbon sinks and sources – vital in order to gain a better understanding of climate change. In the spring, ESA’s Sentinel will study sea ice in the Arctic and map land surfaces, including forests, water and soil.
In November, ESA announced that completely free access to Earth observation data gathered by Copernicus – Europe’s Earth observation system – will soon come into effect. This is likely to stimulate environmental services, space manufacturing, and provide useful information for many business sectors including transport, insurance and agriculture, as well as disaster management.
8. Digital currency
Online currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Mastercoin and Bitbar are far from new, but they are just starting to become a concept most people have at least heard of. But given the volatility of digital currency, the question is can it ever become seriously viable, and is any of it here to stay?
If merchants begin to adopt it more widely and more consumers use it, the more valuable it will become. It’s still very much up in the air whether or not 2014 will be a turning point for digital currencies, so stay tuned.
Experimentation is going to continue to dominate the digital publishing and ebook market as publishers try to figure out how they can make money in the face of plummeting ebook prices. Increased data insights are surely going to be part of this; data about book sales, how readers read books, the readers themselves and much more. Let’s hope all that still allows room for creativity.
Tying digital publishing up with wider digital marketing strategies will be vital to gaining customers and targeting the huge range of ebooks at the right audience.
10. Social media marketing
There’s a lot of talk about users moving away from public sites and forums to embrace more private online communities. So as advertorial really ramps up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, companies could have a trickier year connecting to their customer base and fans. Authenticity could be a big sticking point for 2014, making high quality online content more valuable than ever… if you can prove it as such.
Online branding is going to be key to building reputation and creating ‘the story’ behind the business. Building genuine relationships with fans and customers might be the way forward.