Every year it is a race to see which established companies or unknown startups are going to hit the market with the newest trends in tech. For 2016, there are many software and hardware products that are poised to impact the market in a major way.

Virtual Reality

No longer is virtual reality hard to achieve. Companies everywhere are coming up with special boxes to turn smartphones into VR screens or headsets that power the VR world all on their own. The mainstream consumer is starting to find them accessible, so you can expect the VR technology to boom. HBO recently released an immersive Game of Thrones experience through the Oculus Rift headset.

Wearable Technology in the Workplace

The smartphone addiction is becoming increasingly unpopular, both for health reasons and because having your nose stuck in a smartphone means ignoring everyone else around you. That being said, professionals are far more likely to look for subtle ways to stay on top of the emails, alerts, and updates they need to operate at full speed throughout their day.

Image via Flickr by IntelFreePress

Smartwatches are one example of technology that is less captivating and obnoxious than a smartphone, but still conveys the important notifications.

Tech Webs

Companies, like Microsoft, are starting to connect the devices we use to create cross-platform integration. With the newest update in Windows 10, devices can stream the same content with other devices in the network. This means that in the not-so-distant future, it will feel unnecessary to have a operating platform for every device you use. Screens will be able to communicate without physically being attached with a cable, similar to wireless speakers and controllers.

New and Safer Identifications

Companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo are already looking at implementing better ways to let their users log in. Passwords are complicated and offer little in the way of protection, so companies are turning to fingerprint and facial recognition technology instead. While these technologies already exist, look to 2016 being a major year for brands to start pushing the technology for mainstream acceptance.

3D Printing

We expect more and more companies to take advantage of 3D printing as a way of drawing in new customers. Companies can offer 3D print plans so their customers can print replacement parts or new accessories on their own.

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3D print shops are already popping up to handle printing jobs for the consumer that doesn’t want to invest in their own printer. We expect to see more of these 3D hubs and 3D design plans in 2016.

Social Payments

Expect to see an increase in apps, like PayPal and Square, to offer instant payment without waiting in lines. Companies are looking for ways to streamline the in-store process and they are pumping up their digital wallet presence as a result.

Of course, the most important tech trends are often the ones we don’t even know we are unaware of. In other words, it’s the massive data breaches and the sudden viral nature of a tech need that can’t exactly be predicted and will shape the tech trends of 2016.