Whether the tech industry is in a bubble or not, the buzz around cutting-edge gadgets isn't slowing. Even if you're not a venture capitalist clambering to get a piece of the next Oculus Rift or Nest, chances are that news about the latest technological devices has seeped into conversations around your office watercooler or at your friends' dinner parties. To ensure that you don't get left behind in discussions about the latest developments in wearables, cybersecurity, or virtual reality, study up on these words and phrases.
1. Digital Crown
When it comes to smartwatches, the digital crown is king. While the knob on a normal watch will allow you to change the date and time, Apple's digital crown allows you to scroll through lists, zoom in and out on the screen, and even pay for items at stores or adjust the temperature in your car.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has touted the digital crown as "a breakthrough in user interface." Some Apple Watch reviewers have dismissed it as a "glorified knob" but other observers think it has its merits. "I like it because it's more of a precision way to manipulate the data or information on screen," says Patrick Moorhead, the founder and president of research firm Moor Insights & Strategy. Like virtually every Apple innovation, the digital crown has spawned copycats--Taiwanese electronics company Asus, for example, rolled out its own version of the digital crown in its new ZenWatch.
2. Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED)
OLED displays are the flashier--literally--cousin of the more widely-known LCD and LED displays. OLED technology gets its name from organic compounds, which light up when fed electricity, allowing displays to produce brighter lights than LCD/LED technology while using less energy. OLED displays have become more prevalent in high-definition TVs in the past few years. Now the word is gaining even more traction as the Apple Watch became the first Apple product to use an OLED display. Even though just a few years ago Cook panned OLED technology for its "awful" color saturation, Apple Insider predicts that Apple could adopt OLED technology for more of its products, such as the iPhone, in the near future.
3. Two-Step Verification
With the recent hack of password manager LastPass, many people are looking for ways to say good riddance to the password. One way to at least decrease reliance on passwords is through two-step verification. Also known as two-step or two-factor authentication, this method of encryption isn't new, but is being adopted by more and more applications, such as Snapchat. Here's how it works: Once users have enabled two-step verification, they then have to enter a unique code that is sent securely to them via email or text every time they (or someone else) try to log in to that account from a new device. Moorhead predicts that more and more companies will elect to enable two-step verification.
Oculus thinks it has largely fixed what has up until now been virtual reality's biggest problem--the seasick feeling users sometimes experience. Latency measures the time between a movement or a stimulation and a response--for example, the time between when a user turns his or head, to when the virtual reality environment reflects that change in point of view. The Oculus Rift, when released, will have a record-low latency of below 20 milliseconds. But research has shown that humans can still notice latency as little as 3.2 milliseconds. Thus, the race will be on to see who can provide an even lower latency, and consequently a more realistic experience. Moorhead's bet for a new virtual reality company to successfully challenge Oculus Rift is on ionVR. "This to me provides the sickness-proof of Oculus, at a lower price," says Moorhead.