2015 is expected to be a strong year for the tech industry, as companies, including Apple, Google, Samsung and Facebook, are expected to push, promote and refine products. Wearables, such as the Apple Watch and Facebook-owned Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, are expected to see a boom this year as more of the technology becomes widespread and affordable. Connected cars, such as Google and Audi's self-driving cars, and connected homes, such as Nest's thermostats and smoke detectors, will be seen in more vehicles and houses across the country. Some of these items are being discussed heavily at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Microsoft is set to release its Windows 10 operating system in 2015, with a rumored new Internet browser and new features. The company bumped the release date of the operating system to this fall.
Although wearables and smartwatches have been available for some time, the market is expected to grow even more as Apple releases the Apple Watch in early 2015.
Virtual reality headsets
A true Tron-like experience may be just around the corner as virtual reality headsets are expected to become widespread in 2015. Oculus Rift, the biggest player in the VR headset market, was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $2.3 billion, a sign of the potential future (and money) of VR headsets. Samsung and Sony are racing to create their own headsets as well.
Known mostly for defense operations and cool YouTube/GoPro videos, drones and other controllable robots like it are expected to become a more widespread consumer product after becoming a hot holiday gift in 2014. Companies such as Amazon are testing the technology for delivery services and more.
4K resolution, more commonly known as ultrahigh definition, is expected to become the norm with new televisions on the market in 2015. The technology — which has four times the resolution of full high-definition video — already appears in many TVs and is expanding to computer monitors and mobile phones.
Speaking of wrist wearables, fitness trackers are expected to become smarter and have more features, such as constant heart-rate monitoring and expanded fitness stats. From left, Basis Peak, Adidas Fit Smart, Fitbit Charge, Sony SmartBand, and the Jawbone Up Move are seen near an iPhone.
Why reinvent the wheel when you can make it a hybrid instead? The Copenhagen Wheel from Superpedestrian is a human/electric hybrid bicycle engine built into a bicycle's back wheel, and after raising $4 million in fresh funding in late 2014, electric bicycle hybrids like it may become ubiquitous in the biking world.
With a record number of automakers appearing at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, car companies are gearing up for connected cars and new technology as consumers are willing to dig deeper in their pockets for tech features. Above, the Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car is unveiled at the 2014 CES, which features a solar panel roof for renewable power.
Self-driving car technology also will become more available, with Google puzzling lawmakers across the country in 2014 with what rules and regulations to implement as the company's self-driving technology gets closer to being available publicly.
With connected cars comes connected homes. Google's Nest Labs, which sells a thermostat that learns consumers' heating and cooling patterns over time and can be controlled from a smartphone, marks the growth of smart home gadgets and appliances across the country — especially if Apple launches its HomeKit platform. Expect to be able to control your locks, HVAC systems, security systems and more through your smartphone with the click of an app.
Apple jumped into the mobile payments industry in 2014 with the launch of Apple Pay, and the ability to pay with your smartphone is expected to grow in 2015 as more companies develop their own similar services.
This may or may not catch fire in 2015, but it's too interesting to not share. A woman rides an IO Hawk, a self-balancing motorized personal transporter, at the International CES in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.