2017’s been an amazing year for technology, with some amazing advents breaking headlines all over the world. I joined SABC 3’s Expresso Show to discuss five of the biggest stories we saw this year!

2017 has been a rollercoaster year in the technology world, with numerous developments occurring that will influence the direction of mobile phones, science, robotics, finance, and much more.

I was lucky enough to join SABC 3’s Expresso Show to discuss five of the major developments that shaped our year!

Bezel-less smartphones

Here’s a buzzword we feel everyone we’ve had to get to grips with this year; Univisium. All jargon aside, that term refers to the aspect ratio of 18:9 – and if you’ve digested some of Netflix’s finer binge material such as Stranger Things, you’ve unwittingly watched media in the Univisium format, which is being touted as the method to standardize all mediums of visual broadcast.

To everyone’s surprise, we saw a number of Android smartphones leap on that bandwagon this year – including the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, and Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

What does this mean? A few things – firstly, content consumption is about to become a whole lot juicier, and then there’s the premise of having more screen real-estate to grapple with. An aspect ratio of 18:9 demands a revised form factor, which both LG and Samsung have opted to reduce side bezels in an effort to accommodate. Subsequently, we might not only be able to expect handsets to become slinkier and sexier in the future, but we could further see larger displays on smaller physical devices.

Robotics

Perhaps the most frightening benchmark for all scientific development is how closely technology can approximate human likeness, and 2017 brought that fear and excitement in abundance.

This year we received the news that not only has Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot managed to master walking, but can further navigate a difficult obstacle course through performing complex movements that even involve a backflip.

On the other, more passive side of the coin, the world went into uproar this year when Saudi Arabia officially granted citizenship to Sophia – a humanoid robot that is the most advanced creation of Hanson Robotics Limited.

2018 will likely see us discuss the implication of developing studies in robotics more frequently, as not only will new developments begin to more closely resemble our human counterparts on the street, but functionality will more closely bridge the gap between what machine and humankind can do.

Bitcoin and the Blockchain

Bitcoin and the Blockchain are two of 2017’s biggest buzzwords, and for good reason – the price of Bitcoin has surged to well over $20,000 USD at its peak and numerous other cryptocurrencies have promised strong returns.

While there’s substantial hype around Bitcoin as an investment vehicle, the underlying promise of the Blockchain as a form of technology means that we could be at the cusp of an entirely new financial revolution that poses to connect peer-to-peer transactions around the world in a fashion that we’ve never seen before.

Of course, with any new technological development there’s a heady amount of friction – and the Bitcoin community not only had to navigate increasing national tension and threats from regulators, but further divisions in viewpoint that have birthed numerous forks in the form of Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and others.

It remains to be seen where cryptocurrencies are heading, though I expect we’ll be talking far more greatly about these developments in the near future.

Oumuamua

We’ve always wanted to be visited by an alien, and in 2017 our solar system was granted its wish by the arrival of Oumuamua – an asteroid arriving in our neighbourhood that hails from a distant star.

Oumuamua caught researchers’ eyes for the fact that it bears some notable differences from other observable asteroids – Oumuamua itself lacks the ‘tail’ frequently seen in other astrological bodies, and researchers have recently discovered that the asteroid might be covered in an organic material.

Given that Ouamuamua is the first such extra-terrestrial visitor to arrive in our solar system in observable memory, the study of the asteroid’s composition and origin will likely fuel studies for the next ten years and beyond.

SpaceX’s city-to-city rocket system

Though many of Elon Musk’s ideas have centered on sending humankind either into space or onto Mars, the SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur announced a new venture that will place human feet back on terra firma in both a figurative and literal sense this year.

Ending a jam-packed appearance that saw Musk unveil revised plans to reach both the Moon and Mars, the business mogul revealed plans to leverage SpaceX’s Big F*cking Rocket (BFR, for short) to ferry passengers to any destination on Earth within an hour’s time frame.

Musk’s proposal would see passengers board mega-rockets, launch into orbit, and then settle down on floating landing pads in a destination of their choice. Though both the rocket and landing pad are at this stage conceptual, Musk clarified that construction would begin within the next six to nine months.

SpaceX debuted a video presentation outlining the concept, wherein passengers would board the BFR, launch, and then land in Shanghai within 39 minutes – covering an immense 11,000 kilometers.

The announcement is yet another of Musk’s bids to revolutionize travel; another concept presently in the works is that of the Hyperloop, a proposed system of sealed tubes through which a pod would be able to travel through free of air resistance or friction.

Have your say!

What was your favourite technology news story, and which headline do you think will most shape the way we view and interact with developing tech in 2018? Be sure to let me know on Twitter – tweet me @bryansmithSA!