Virgin Media reveals top tech predictions for 2017

4th January 2017

Virgin Media today reveals the latest cutting-edge technologies expected to make their mark in 2017.

Immersive Virtual Reality, Bionic headphones, battery storage and voice-controlled devices feature in the Virgin Media ‘Tech Predictions’ for 2017.

The list has been compiled by Neil Illingworth, who watches future trends for Virgin Media, and comes ahead of consumer electronics tradeshow CES which begins in Las Vegas later this week (5-8 January).

Neil, who is Director of Advanced Technology and Innovation, said: “This year technology’s going to get more personal, giving us even greater control of our lives. Voice-controlled Personal Assistants will become smarter and learn our behaviour, film lovers will be able to change the ending of a movie thanks to impressive Virtual Reality, and city traffic could be eased thanks to hundreds of connected tiny sensors.

“At Virgin Media, we’re always looking at how we can use the latest technology, whether that’s with our new future-proof Virgin TV V6 box which is 4K UHD ready and HDR compatible, or bringing ultrafast broadband to millions of homes across the UK.”

Virgin Media’s Tech Predictions for 2017:

Virtual Reality to put film fans in the picture

Virtual Reality makers hit their stride in 2016, taking gamers to new levels with immersive fantasy worlds and impressive life-like experiences.

This year, VR is expected to help film fans take part in the action too. Users will be able to play a starring role in a movie and change its outcome due to the way they interact with other characters and their environment.

Neil said: “VR is going to hit new heights this year and will blur the boundaries between a game and film, in a thrilling new way. Thanks to smart CGI, wearers will be able to fully immerse themselves in a blockbuster and help determine its twists and turns, all from the comforts of their sofa.”

Listen up with Bionic headphones

The way we listen to music in 2017 could change forever thanks to Bionic headphones.

Bionic headphones will give people greater control of what they listen to, so they can tune in and out to certain sounds, their favourite songs or conversations. For example, the smart earbuds will let a music lover tune into an epic guitar riff on a rock classic, and then blend it with a conversation, if they’re asked a question so they don’t have to interrupt their favourite track.

The headphones will even be able to remove background noise, for example, silencing the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop, and instead focus on the sounds of a friend’s voice, so the wearer can hear every word perfectly.

Battle for the home

The battle for people’s homes is hotting up thanks to the likes of Alexa, Siri and Cortana. Speakers integrated with virtual Personal Assistants are likely to take up residence in thousands of homes across the UK, as more people use their voice to take control of daily tasks.

Neil said: “The world’s biggest tech giants are investing heavily in these smart speakers and want their virtual Personal Assistant to be the one that helps you control the heating, orders your groceries and organises your calendar.

“Expect more companies to bring these devices to the market, with even greater integration with everyday tasks and your favourite apps and services.”

Homes to power up with battery storage

In-home battery storage could become cheaper, smaller and more readily available in 2017.

Smart batteries will help people store surplus energy generated from solar panels, which can then be used at peak times, for example in the evening or weekend when a washing machine or dishwasher is used.

It means energy could be used more efficiently as households save electricity for when they need it, and sell any leftover energy to their neighbours or back to the National Grid.

**Flexible phones and safer driving **

Smartphone manufacturers are expected to introduce bendable phones so they can be put back into shape if they’ve been sat on or curved from being left in a back pocket for too long, as well as being folded into a compact size to fit in the smallest of handbags.

In addition, new phones are expected to have road-safety themed apps pre-installed to help drivers concentrate on the road.

These apps will know when someone’s in the driver’s seat and automatically disable the phone’s keyboard so they are unable to respond to a text or look at notifications. Instead, they’ll only be able to use their voice to respond to messages.

Neil said: “Smartphone manufactures are taking people’s safety even more seriously, so expect this year’s phones to be pre-loaded with features to keep drivers safe and legal on the road, and not distracted by messages or alerts.”

Smarter cities

Dozens of ‘smart cities’ could pop up across the UK over the next 12 months thanks to Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN).

With LPWAN, local authorities will be able to better manage traffic levels, pollution or energy use, thanks to data collected from tiny sensors installed on buildings or objects, like lampposts, across towns and cities.

The data will build a better picture of how people change their behaviour due to the time of day, weather or season, such as when they drive their car, so simple changes can be made to the phasing of traffic lights to ease congestion.

Neil concluded: “2017 will bring incredible technology and must-have gadgets.

“At Virgin Media, there will be no let-up for our innovation team as we work hard to develop brilliant new products, so our customers can enjoy the shows and films they love in the best way possible.”


Note to editors

About Virgin Media

Virgin Media recently unveiled its new connected entertainment line-up, delivering the UK’s best and most advanced TV service.

It’s powered by the new future-proof Virgin TV V6 box, which is 4K ready and HDR compatible, and can record six programmes while streaming another. As part of the new Virgin TV line-up is the TellyTablet - a personal smart TV, designed so you can watch television in HD quality anywhere in the home.

Virgin TV also includes a revamped Virgin TV Anywhere app, a new ad-free kids app and the unveiling of Virgin Media Store.

More information:

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. We’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises by the end of 2019.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business, we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company, with operations in more than 30 countries.

For all Virgin Media press enquiries please contact; / 0333 000 2900 @VirginMediaCorp