5 technologies set to take off

2017 is going to be an exciting year for technology and innovation. Entrepreneurs and inventors are taking advantage of advances in computing power and increased internet connectivity to bring evermore exciting (and useful) technologies to consumers.

Here are five revolutionary new technologies you might find yourself using in the coming year.

Packages from the sky

In 2016, Amazon, UPS and 7-Eleven completed their first package deliveries by drone. Operating in the United States and England, these companies have begun test programs that provide customers same-day deliveries.

Drone landing in grassy area (© AP Images)
A test drone makes a UPS delivery. (© AP Images)

France, meanwhile, has become the first country with a national mail service using drones to deliver special courier packages.

All these programs are still in the experimental phase, but with the speed and efficiency of drones, it won’t be long before the whir of rotors signals the arrival of your latest online order.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality is best known as a game device used to create a fully immersive experience. But in 2017 it has the potential to enhance entertainment, health care, manufacturing, education, and other areas.

The ability of people to travel, have new experiences and see objects fully rendered in three dimensions has the potential to change almost every part of our lives.

Doctors on your computer or phone

The promise of the internet has always been that it will bring us closer together. Now, through teleconferencing and video chat features, health care companies are pairing with startups to take your doctor’s visit online.

Apps like NowClinic and Doctor on Demand offer online consultations for primary or urgent care. This can both lower costs for patients and improve access in rural or underserved areas. Just open the app, schedule an appointment and have a face-to-face examination.

With online options gaining ground and with major health care companies now covering visits, it’s possible that your doctor’s appointment in 2017 might be from your couch.

Self-driving vehicles

Your GPS system can already tell you where you are, find the best route to your destination and warn you about traffic along the way. All you have to do is drive there — but not for long. Some cities in the United States and abroad have begun pilot programs for self-driving cars, providing greater convenience for commuters and opportunities for visually impaired people to become more independent.

Two men sitting in self-driving car (© AP Images)
Steve Mahan, who is blind, gestures for a steering wheel that doesn’t exist inside a driverless car. (© AP Images)

Those programs are going to expand in 2017. Cars themselves will be able to find routes, avoid traffic and allow you to just enjoy the ride.

While this technology may seem mostly focused on crowded cities, one of its most interesting applications is how it will change farming. Collaboration between John Deere and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has led to more effective operation of autonomous tractors and other robots for planting, harvesting and maintaining crops.

Machine learning

This one is a little different. You might not know that you’re using machine learning in 2017, but you likely will be.

Machine learning is when computers take in a huge amount of data and teach themselves about a subject by finding patterns.

In its most immediate form, Google is using machine learning to improve its translation software. So in 2017 you will be able to translate books, contracts and webpages more accurately than ever before.