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The best things to happen in tech 2014

Expert Reviews Staff
30 Dec 2014
Google Cardboard
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2014 was a great year in tech, with plenty of things to celebrate

It’s fair to say that 2014 was one of the best years in tech, with new products and achievements capping off a rather good year. We’ve rounded up our favourite things here.

ALAN TURING AND BLETCHLEY PARK

Bletchley Park, the World War II code-breaking site, is finally starting to get the full recognition that it deserves. In recent years the site’s profile as risen dramatically, and more and more people are learning just how important it was to the Allies’ war effort – see our feature on how Bletchley came into existence.

With Alan Turing getting his deserved pardon at the end of 2013, 2014 saw the release of a film based on his life, the Imitation Game. A quality film, it’s great to see science and one of our country’s greatest heroes getting the exposure that they deserve.

Bletchley Park

 

STEPHEN HAWKING’S NEW COMPUTER

Stephen Hawking’s speech computer is almost as well known as he is, and this year the eminent scientist received an upgrade from Intel. Due to the advancement of his Motor Neuron Disease, Hawking was reduced to just one word per minute, but the new system doubles his talking speed and increased typing by up to 10 times.

Using SwiftKey software, just as you would on your iPhone or Android smartphone, Hawking’s new computer learns his speech patterns and predicts the word that he’s trying to type, while providing the most common following words as options. Streamlined controls also make it easier for him to give lectures, speaking pre-entered text one line at a time.

Controlled completely by the IR sensor mounted in his glasses, the plan is to release the system to other MND sufferers, helping to improve their lives, too.

ANDROID WEAR

The year of the smart watch finally came, with Google getting the head start over the Apple Watch with the launch of its Android Wear OS. By having this Android-friendly OS ready for its partners, it’s meant that smartwatches can be manufactured quickly, providing a huge range of them already.

With support for different screen shapes, it’s also meant that we’ve seen a huge range of form factors, such as the excellent LG G Watch R. Admittedly, Android Wear needs some tweaks and improvements, but it’s more than heading in the right direction.

Smartwatch - LG G Watch R

 

LANDING ON A COMET

Just over ten years ago the European Space Agency launched Rosetta with its aim to catch up and orbit the comet 67P. Even more exciting than being the first space craft to do so, Rosetta deployed the Philae lander to touch-down on the comet’s surface, the first craft to ever do so.

Although Philae bounced of the comet’s surface twice, it eventually landed successfully and performed some scientific experiments, before transmitting the results back to Rosetta. The information gathered will prove to be the biggest leap forwards in comet science ever.

GOOGLE CARDBOARD

In the early days computers were all hobbyist devices, with people endlessly tweaking and playing with them. Over the years, we’ve moved into a more commoditised world, with smoother, better-made products, but we’ve definitely lost something along the way. Step forward Google Cardboard, which reintroduces some of the fun back into computing. Cardboard is a smartphone holder that you can build yourself, turning your Android device into a virtual reality (VR) headset.

Simply put, it’s completely brilliant, and lets you experience things in a different way: you really have to try a panorama in Glass, as it feels like you’re in the photo. Check out our best Google Cardboard apps for the best content you can get and more information on how to build your own version.

Google Cardboard

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