Apple Pay, smart home tech and Internet of Things impressed IET experts in 2015

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The arrival of Apple Watch and Apple Pay, the first UK man on the International Space Station, as well as the rise of the Internet of Things and smart home technologies were the major engineering and technology milestones of 2015 according to IET experts. And what do they think that 2016 will bring?

Prof Will Stewart
IET Communications Policy Panel

What were the most significant developments in engineering and technology in 2015 in your opinion?

The release of Apple Watch and the arrival of Apple Pay into the UK were certainly significant. ApplePay is the first really new paying technique since the debit card – and it is already widespread, I can pay in my village shop as well as the supermarket. The watch has been frankly much more useful than I expected – not just pay and fitness but also the discreet tap on the wrist and smart personalised one-button responses enable me to deal with many messages in meetings without people being aware! In 2015, the first movie shot entirely on a mobile, was released. Tangerine, which debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, was entirely shot on an iPhone 5S. It’s a bit of a stunt but it does demonstrate that smartphone cameras are now up there with full-size ones in terms of quality – with implications for self-made video. In 2015, the roll-out of 4G mobile telecommunications networks has gathered pace. This does increase data rates considerably, needed for video and many rural areas now have a faster rate by 4G mobile than on ‘broadband’.

I would also mention the fact that the dashcam has become widespread, even on bicycles. Effectively this means no more disputing events after an accident – good for good honest drivers (as we all are, are we not?).

What major developments do you expect in 2016?

I think that we will see smartphone screen resolution exceed most home TVs.That is 4K. This means that smartphones need as much bandwidth to do video as your TV does, which will be challenging.

On a small scale, I believe that in 2016 we will see self-driving vehicles carry their first paying passengers. It will start really small but will grow fast, which is why Uber and Apple are interested.

I expect to see health-monitoring wearable devices to contact doctors and call ambulancesfor the first time. This could happen now but has not yet – but a wearable might have a clearer idea of your problems than you do in many emergency situations. It will be a more smart 999.

In 2016, I predict that electronic tickets overtake paper ones. It must already be close – I have already boarded four flights and been to the cinema twice with only my Apple Watch! Maybe the beginning of the end for easily-lost HOLSCOPs (horrid little scraps of paper).


Naomi Climer – IET President

What were the most significant developments in engineering and technology in 2015 in your opinion?

My overall theme for tech developments that will change our lives is the Internet of Things – for this year and the next few years. For this year – I’d vote for Apple Pay as something quite significant in terms of a new way to pay – beyond contactless payment. It’s quite an achievement in terms of integration of payment systems with the phone’s hardware and software, the fingerprint security and the ease of use compared to dealing with cards. For 2016, I still think the overarching theme is Internet of Things, but I’d go with wearables as the one to watch. I think we’ll start to see much more than just the wellbeing apps that are beginning to be in the mainstream. More business-related applications will start to emerge for business system integrations for smart watches and glasses. I’d also like to hope that other Internet of Things applications like smart metering could come into maturity in 2016, but I’m not sure that it’s quite ready for prime time yet!

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