The Tech That Will Change Your Life in 2016

Are you ready for a drone that follows you around like paparazzi? A dishwasher that reorders its own soap?
  1. A Useful Internet of Things
    Finally, there’s a reason to connect household items to the Internet, thanks to programs like Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service. Using sensors built into devices like Brita water pitchers, Brother printers and Whirlpool washers, it automatically orders more supplies when you’re running low.
  2. Virtual Reality
    Investments in 360-degree video and apps means you’ll get closer to not-so-far-out realities: front row at a sold-out concert…or a seat at that meeting you’d otherwise miss.
  3. Smart Messaging Apps
    In 2016, messaging stops being just a way to send texts and emojis to friends, but also a way to reach all-knowing bot assistants. You'll be able to ask them to book restaurant reservations, buy a gift for a friend or simply tell you Mom’s birthday.
  4. Safer, Smarter Drones
    We’ll soon think of drones more like cameras than helicopters, as their technology evolves. One maker, Lily, plans to release a waterproof model that launches when flung into the air, then follows you around as you kayak, ski or take a sunset selfie on the beach.
  5. A New USB Port!
    USB Type-C is capable of two-way power, so one port on a laptop could be used to charge the battery and connect an external drive. This should result in fewer cords, plus faster charging.
  6. Voice-Operated Everything
    No, you’re not paranoid: The gadgets really are listening. This year, expect voice control on more computers and an even wider range of gadgets, including the CogniToys Dino, a toy that uses IBM’s Watson to help answer questions, and Jibo, a talking family robot.
  7. Cameras That See More
    Smartphones and point-and-shoots alike are sprouting multiple lenses and sensors to improve image quality, capture depth and “see” in 3-D.
  8. Streaming Channels Galore
    In 2016, look for more streaming versions of channels now found only on your cable box, including some big networks and local stations. Apps will evolve so that it’s easier to find stuff to watch.
  9. Wireless Charging Everywhere
    This year, we may really stop plugging all our gadgets into the wall. More countertops will provide juice. Starbucks already has tables that charge devices wirelessly, IKEA has started shipping furniture that does the same. GM, Toyota and Audi will have it in cars.
  10. Independent Wearables
    The smartwatches of 2016 will begin to show their independence with built-in wireless, including cellular and GPS radios. It could make a big difference for fitness nuts who want to leave their phone at home but still track routes and stay in touch.
  11. Cutting the Headphone Cord
    Bluetooth headphones are far from new, but this is the year you should buy a pair. Improvements to the wireless technology mean no more muffled sound or dropped connections. There’s even talk of headphone jacks disappearing from smartphones, a casualty of the quest for ever-thinner designs.