Business Unusual

A recap of 2015 in looking to unusual business in 2016

Disruption in 2015 even extended to language with the rise of the emoji seeing the laughing face being declared the "word" of the year by the Oxford Dictionary. The Australian National Dictionary Centre chose "sharing economy" thanks in no small part to services like Uber.

Uber

Uber is almost six years old and worth almost $65 billion. But to prove it is actually a data company it could declare that on 24 December in Hackney, London a ride booked by a guy called Marvin was the 1 billionth ride they have offered!

On most fronts the company continues to grow into more cities and is getting more people using the platform. Their latest addition invites other services to connect with you while you are being driven somewhere to give you details about things to see at your destination, play music that fits for the length of your ride or a news update to fit the time you have available.

Despite the amazing options that will redefine the expectations for cab rides in the future, it has not be plain sailing. They face a make or break court case to decide whether drivers are actually staff not contractors. In Germany it has withdrawn from some cities which require drivers to be licenced cab drivers.

The real play is in China. While it appears it is growing well, it has to work hard to sign up drivers and get people to use the app.

Overall the company earnings are looking good but, as Forbes reports, they are still losing more than they make.

Add to this the implication for self-driving cars. Tesla is claiming they will be driverless in two years and Google's target is to have driverless cars without any steering controls. Uber might soon be disrupted out of its own market.

Alphabet [Google] is an investor so you could see Uber resolve its driver issues by simply not having any.

Drones

As bad as the pun might be, drones have really taken off.

In fact, the range in size and sophistication has seen regulators in the US now require registration.

One recently demonstrated at CES 2016 will transport a person!

There are so many drones now that there is actually a drone for capturing rogue drones.

Just last week, Intel set a new world record when they created a "silent" fireworks display using 100 drones flying in formation and synchronised to live music.

Drones are also intersecting with another business unusual subject, GoPro, or high resolution cameras in general with 360 video recorders fitted to drones offering incredible views.

The third technologythat will merge into these are the Virtual Reality headsets which no longer is just the Occulus Rift which goes on sale later this year. Controlling and viewing the world via 360 cameras and viewers will make it even more fun to fly drones.

The VR gear brings us to the third of the big updates from last year that will continue to change how we interact with technology via wearables.

The king of the health trackers in the past - Fitbit - has hit rocky ground both from competition (it has just launched the Blaze which competes with the Apple Watch) but also scrutiny as it faces allegations that it is not an accurate heart-rate tracker.

The quality of those sensors are the real stars. They're improving in accuracy while shrinking in size and cost. Expect more choices at better prices to help you track your health or get fit, or to be alerted should something happen to a loved one.

Insurance companies have already seen the worth of offering benefits to those who are willing to share their driving behaviour to better calculate risk and determine premiums. At least one medical aid now offers a subsidised Apple Watch to those that meet their health goals.

The best startup at CES 2016 was Owlet, a smart wearable for babies.

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