Six Technological Advancements to get Excited About This Year

What are the most exciting Internet products in 2016? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Julie Zhuo, Product Design VP at Facebook, on Quora.

This is pretty subjective, but here's some stuff I'm excited about this year:

  • VR: the more I learn and experience it, the more I am excited about how new this Medium actually is in reaching a level of immersion not yet seen before. So far watching videos on Oculus is my favorite because I get to more closely experience things like surfing a colossal wave that I'd not get a chance to do. Some of the exploratory new UIs we're seeing in games like Lands' End (controlling things with the power of your gaze!) are also very intriguing to me. Looking forward to a lot more innovations in how we connect and interact with friends in this space.
  • Voice UIs: got an Amazon Echo recently and I love it. Theoretically the idea of asking questions/issuing commands by saying them (rather than typing them/manipulating a UI by hand) is so much more efficient, but voice technology has in the past never been good enough to actually be reliable enough to use regularly. The Echo is a sign to me that that is shifting. I hope to see more data-connected Voice UIs pop up everywhere in the future.
  • Live Broadcasting: another very cool new medium that feels really engaging to me because of the fact that it is live and unpredictable, and because of the opportunities for real-time, deep and engaging interactions between the broadcasters and watchers. I have been watching so much Live on Facebook in past months.
  • Productivity tools at work: Slack is super cool and the nice touches and integrations are well done. I use Facebook@Work 8 hours a day (the enterprise version of Facebook where all the correspondences that would traditionally have been a mailing list or long subject line are now groups). As a designer, I love that there is so much innovation on design tools. We've been investing in a lot of stuff in-house at Facebook as well on the design tools front to help designers spend more time in the creative zone and less time on the manual, repetitive stuff.
  • 3-D printers and robots: not necessary "internet," and maybe 2016 isn't quite the year these become mainstream, but I think these are the jam. This is like productivity tools at work taken to the next level, where more and more things can physically be manufactured cheaply and quickly, and more and more time and energy can be poured into the creation of blueprints/patterns.
  • Self-driving cars. Just got a Tesla this year. Obsessed with the auto-driving capability.
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