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3 Technology Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

3 Technology Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

Some technologies have been surprising us year after year, and 2017 is going to be no different. If anything, it will probably only mark the development of some of the most innovative technologies we have ever been introduced to.

And while it’s hard to identify which technologies are going to steal the headlines this year, there are definitely some worthy of your attention.

We will be talking about three technologies that may either change our lives with tectonic force, or quietly make a significant impact.

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1. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality was expected to be the biggest thing of 2016, and while it has not been a complete disappointment, it certainly didn’t transform the society the way many industry experts expected it to.

However, it seems that its potential has not been ruled out, but rather just delayed. It did see significant growth in the past year, with some major improvements and a considerably increased visibility.

But unlike 2016, this year is not going to be about curiosity for this emerging technology trend. It’s very likely to become a more tangible tool this year – with enhancing the mundane, unproductive activities being likely the first thing it will achieve this year.

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Another thing that you can expect from VR this year is fewer hardware introductions, but a considerably higher level of integration with existing platforms. What kind of impact will it have on people’s social lives is also being keenly watched .

This is especially after Facebook’s big promises and astonishing demonstration at its F8 developers conference in 2016. Experts believe that even those with the most basic of VR equipment will have a big update from Facebook this year.

2. 3D Technology

While some technology trends have been getting the most attention, 3D technology has been one of the most underrated ones. Although it is not something as groundbreaking as some of the more innovative new finds such as VR, it has been far ahead in terms of offering a real, tangible benefit so far.

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Despite not getting the attention they probably deserve from the general public, the 3D industry is definitely in a booming phase. There seem to be new products and updates being launched almost every few weeks, with one of the latest and more significant ones being a 3D pen.

In 2017, however, the industry looks to take it to a whole new level. While printing in metals such as gold has already been achieved, the organic materials will be the target this year. Multi-material 3D printing seems to be another interesting area to watch.

Similarly, cheaper 3D printing is something the industry keenly awaits, and this is going to be another area the industry is going to work on this year. It would probably be achieved with the help of another emerging trend: faster, better 3D printers.

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3D modeling, which has so far been an utter disappointment in terms of ease of use, especially for users other than graphic designers and animators, is probably going to change too. 2017 has just started and we already have a few online apps and plugins that offer an easier way to access 3D modeling.

3. Artificial Intelligence

When it comes to the latest and most innovative technology trends out there, it’s hard to beat artificial intelligence. The way it is already affecting people’s lives is astonishing, and things are only going to get more interesting from here.

For AI, 2016 was a year of machine learning and voice assistants. This year, Microsoft in particular is all set to take it a step further with a Cortana device. Apple, too, seems to be having some interesting plans with Siri.

However, it’s hard to make any predictions about something that has already developed to an extent that it’s capable of playing a game and writing notes for you. We can only wait in excitement and see how AI keeps getting bigger and better, and soon change the way we live before we even know it.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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George Olufemi O

Information Technologist

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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