In the 25 years or so since I've been working on voice recognition projects, the technology has evolved a great deal. Today, all the major tech companies, from Apple to Google and beyond, are combining voice recognition with artificial intelligence software to create new platforms and interfaces for their users (think of Siri, Alexa or Cortana.) This kind of voice-activated innovation will continue to be important. But I believe a different technology will be even more significant: Augmented reality, or AR. Simply put, AR technology integrates virtual images and information with a user's real-world surroundings.
Technology advances not so much when it exhibits innovation, but when it becomes truly practical for everyday people. In 2016, we'll see an acceleration of that shift of technologies from the drawing board and geek-only curiosities to consumer devices that change our lives in ways small and big. Here are a handful of technologies that are on the cusp of major action in the coming year. For decades, artificial intelligence was a thing best understood by sci-fi fanatics and screenwriters. That started to change n 2011 with Apple's Siri voice assistant, but 2015 turned out to be a watershed year for computer algorithms that could ape human thought and interaction.
Google has helped build intense speculation for its October 4 event in San Francisco, where it's expected to reveal new phones aimed at consumers that will power a new virtual reality platform, and possibly other smart home devices. Now that the buzz has reached a football-stadium roar, here comes the hard part: living up to the hype. Google has been teasing the event as one for the history books. A tweet Monday from Hiroshi Lockheimer, the company's senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS and Google Play, turned up the volume on the buzz. We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today.
The iPhone maker has finally jumped into two of the hottest tech trends of the last two years -- augmented reality and voice-activated speakers, with a promise to dominate these markets pioneered by its rivals. Two years after Amazon introduced its sleeper hit Echo device, and a year after Google Home, Apple now has the voice-activated HomePod, a high-end music speaker priced at $349 that will be powered by Siri. That often maligned but widely used artificial intelligence assistant is also getting an upgrade, though for HomePod, Siri's main task is clear: play music. Apple also unveiled a new augmented reality developer kit that would help Apple app developers integrate this technology that overlays digital images on the physical world, made popular by Pokemon Go. Facebook and Google have been showcasing such distorted reality tech at their own demos, with plans to revolutionize commerce and communication.
Google's biggest event of the year is about to get underway. The company's developers conference, Google I/O, is just hours away so naturally the rumor mill has already kicked into high gear. At this year's event, we expect to hear much more about the next version of Android, Google's plans for its Assistant, and what's going on with its VR platform, Daydream. Of course, as with every year, there are bound to be a few surprises as well. But for now, here's a look at everything we're expecting to see (and, in some cases not see) at I/O.