Year in review: Most innovative tech reveals of 2019 [videos]450907173e6d6b55a802f2e0e0130c07

This has been an intense year for technology. Donald Trump went to war with China, and despite his best efforts, the planet’s best and brightest still managed to put out a whole lot of great new tech for us to dream about.

So, with 2019 drawing to an end, I’ll be looking at some of the best new tech and tech trends to be that made it into our newsfeeds and hearts this year past.

Folding phones

Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X and Motorola RAZR

It’s been a good year for the mobile industry, with Samsung, Huawei and Motorola leading the foldable phone race.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was by far the most talked-about phone in 2019, but not all press was good press; several review units broke out in the wild. On the upside, pre-orders in South Africa sold out within the first day.

Watch: Huawei Mate X versus Samsung Galaxy Fold

Huawei unveiled their Mate X device at the Mobile World Congress in February 2019. At the time, Huawei CEO Richard Yu described it as a “new breed of smartphones.” He wasn’t wrong.

The RAZR V3i was sold during the height of the series’ popularity during the early 2000 and Motorola made every Millenium’s day when it announced the updated RAZR in November.

Watch: Motorola RAZR

Robotics

Spot the Dog and Atlas the Humanoid

Spot the Dog made headlines earlier this year when Boston Dynamics shared several videos of the robot – from dancing to Bruno Mars to opening doors. It had most people concerned, including Joe Rogan.

Watch Spot dance

Three months later, the company was back with another reveal: Atlas, a humanoid robot capable of an impressive parkour and gymnastics routine, including somersaults, handstands, 360-degree spinning jumps and split leaps.

Watch: Atlas in action

Boston Dynamics has since come out to say that robots aren’t ‘evil.’

Electric Cars

Cybertruck

The Cybertruck captured the public’s imagination last month when Elon Musk announced the striking pick-up truck to the world. The Cybertruck has a distinctive angular shape, unlike anything else on the road.

If anything, the brushed steel beast looks like a Delorian on steroids but less shiny. It’s a design that mostly defies explanation as the Tesla team have admitted to focusing on form over function.

Less than five days after the reveal, Musk confirmed on Twitter that the company had received more than 250 000 pre-orders – worth approximately $10.5 billion – for the Cybertruck.

Watch: Cybertruck reveal

Space exploration

Starhopper

Elon Musk wants to get humanity to Mars before 2024, and the Starship programme is how he intends to do that. Furthermore, the first Starship prototype, known as Starhopper, successfully completed all the required tests.

SpaceX is currently working on the next prototype, the Starship Mk4. It is being assembled at the company’s facility in Boca Chica, Florida. Perhaps the only thorn in Musk’s side at the moment, is Boeing.

Watch: Starhopper test flight

Virtual Reality (VR)

Oculus Quest and Oculus Link

The Facebook-owned Oculus announced the release of Oculus Link earlier this year. The device lets you plug a standalone Oculus Quest into a gaming PC to play Rift games.

In addition, Facebook is planning a virtual social community where users of its Oculus headgear can “explore new places” via its Horizon virtual world, which is set for a beta launch in 2020.

Nintendo Labo VR Kit

Nintendo announced back in September that it would be releasing a VR Switch accessory after a patent for the device was filed with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) in February 2019.

The VR accessory resembled the Lab package, but the glasses are made of plastic instead of cardboard, for ensured durability. It wasn’t Nintendo’s first foray into the world of VR, either. Remember Virtual Boy from the 1990s?

Watch: Labo VR kit review

Gaming innovations

Google Stadia

Google Stadia showed up with a bang and quickly became one of the biggest disruptors in the gaming space. Sadly, we South Africans missed out on this round.

The Stadia team at Google made some massive claims about performance, claiming that Stadia will be faster than the most powerful gaming PC. Read more here.

Google Stadia launch trailer

Internet in South Africa

Google Station

In November, Google announced that free, fast and reliable Wi-Fi would roll out to the Cape Flats, including Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, and Philippi.

Google Station – already available in Nigeria, India and Indonesia, aims to provide fast and safe Wi-Fi to everyone in South Africa. The platform will roll out protected Wi-Fi hotspots in public places across the country.

Google will also team up with network operators, fibre providers, and system integrators to make it happen. In addition, Google Station will offer monetisation opportunities to its partners through advertising.

Watch: Introduction Google Station to South Africa

Medical innovation

Epidermal VR

Researches and engineers have developed an integrated skin VR system which can receive commands wirelessly, and simulate the “touch” with vibration. US Army veteran Garrett Anderson tested the tech.

The team installed pressure sensors on the fingertips of Anderson’s prosthetic hand. Furthermore, they placed an epidermal VR patch on the residual arm stump, enabling him to grasp objects.

Watch: The Epidermal VR in action

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