15 technology trends for 2016

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Frogdesign presents 15 tech trends that have the potential to "radically transform businesses in 2016." This year, the trends identified by the design firm include the blockchain, data driven design, the human microbiome, artificial intelligence in financial services, the role of virtual reality in medical therapies, FDA-approved video games, and more.

Readers are invited to vote on whether a trend is "likely" or a "longshot."

With the increased consumer availability of VR/AR headsets -- from Oculus Rift to the Hololens -- our personal 3D gateways into an alternate shared experience will start to emerge. Online webcams are eclipsed by connected VR cams, which allow viewers to virtually transport themselves to points in space around the world and interact with the people there. The interactions are simple at first, but users discover that the feeling of presence engenders a sense of empathy that they never felt watching video on a 2D screen. Aid to refugee camps with installed VR cams increases by orders of magnitude. War zone reporting sees a sharp increase in engagement resulting in increased demand for shifts in political policy, while the ethical implications of providing users ‘first hand’ experience into dangerous situations are debated. As with the introduction of the Internet, VR provides an evolution in the connection of otherwise isolated people and groups. Rather than getting lost in virtual fantasy, we find ourselves more deeply connected to reality.

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An odd new headwear trend is sprouting in China

A woman wearing a sprout in Beijing, Sep. 25, 2015.  Reuters.

In China, teens and twentysomethings are wearing little plastic accessories on their heads in the shape of tiny little sprouts, fruit, or flowers. Nobody's exactly sure where or how the trend started, but it's... growing.

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Looking for smart people at Brilliant.org

How do we identify and encourage smart kids? Y'know, like we do with kid athletes? Sue Khim, CEO of Brilliant.org, contrasts the U.S. to India, where there are more honor students than America has students. Read the rest

Actually, most college students aren't hooking up as much as you think

Really interesting little bit of social science at Slate where Lisa Wade looks at the "OMG COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE JUST INDISCRIMINATELY BANGING EACH OTHER WHILE DRUNK ALL THE TIME" scare story, and finds a very different picture of what's happening in reality. The catch: In order to understand why both the pop narrative and the reality can co-exist, you have to break college students down by demographics. Some students really are engaging in what's come to be called "hook-up culture", but they tend to be the most privileged students — the ones whose wealth, race, and social status can better protect them from the consequences of mistakes, and who think about their college life (and future goals) in very different ways compared to less-privileged peers. Read the rest

When all the cool kids were hijacking airplanes

Between 1968 and 1973, somebody hijacked a commercial airliner nearly every week. Read the rest

The protective power of antioxidants might be vastly oversold

Scientists are beginning to question the idea that free-radicals cause aging and, with that, the entire basis of the antioxidant industrial complex. Maybe, now, everything can stop tasting of acai berries. Read the rest

Paris struck by le Food Truck

A style piece in the New York Times about a trans-Atlantic trend: "Artisanal food trucks have been making inroads in Paris, adding a new twist in culinary culture to a city where diners rarely eat on the go, much less with their hands." Read the rest