The Year In Tech: 10 Big Developments of 2014

Virtual reality becomes a reality, mobile solutions take over industries, 3D printing creeps towards the mainstream, and more. Our roundup of ten of the biggest tech developments of 2014:

1. Mobile Solutions Everywhere

2014 was the year when mobile solutions began infiltrating industry after industry. Apps exploded beyond music, games, and photos and began to change young consumers’ behaviors in multiple categories. The mobile dating app Tinder's success with young consumers has led to "the Tinder effect," and the swipe right/swipe left design has become a go-to design for apps devoted to politics and wedding registries. Job hunting for the next generation began to go mobile, with new apps, like Jobr, that might just be getting started, but could be future hubs to recruit the next generation of workers. While the debate about what multiple devices, social media, and small screens are doing to young minds continued to rage, some are tapping into the educational potential of modern tech and leveraging mobile screens to make learning easier and maybe even more fun. Tablets are becoming teachers, with more apps and games devoted to educating. Meanwhile, new mobile-based financial services are appealing to investment-shy Millennials by allowing them to take baby steps into the financial world. News outlets are also going mobile, with startups reimagining the way news is delivered to cater to an on-the-go, fragmented audience. Millennials are so used to turning to mobile solutions for the problems in their lives, they’re looking to their phones as a solution to help solve their tech-addiction. As smartphones continue to become a central part of consumers’ lives—led by Millennials—we will continue to see mobile solutions created to keep up with their needs.

2. Virtual Insanity

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day:  Millennials have grown up in a world where consuming wine outdoors—or any location outside of the traditional table—is more acceptable than generations past.”—Kate McManus, VP of Marketing, Delicato Family Wines (Wine Spectator)

Young consumers are “killing the shopping spree.” Whether they’re signing up for the growing number of clothing subscription services (Rent the Runway, Le Tote, Urban Outfitters, etc.), shopping second-hand, or just culling their closets—young shoppers are quitting fast fashion in droves. Some are inspired by Marie Kondo’s joy-sparking brand of minimalism, while others want to help the environment—and still others are just seeking a wide range of things to wear at a lower price. (Vice)

Airbnb is launching “adventures” for experience-seeking young travelers. The site that started with accommodations and moved into one-off “experiences” (like dinner parties) now offers multi-day excursions, complete with guides, gear, meals, and accommodations. The platform already features over 200 trips in 40 countries, including a tiger-tracking expedition in Kenya and a trek through the canyons of Oman. (Fast Company)

Tyson Foods is taking on the fake meat market with plant-based nuggets. The pea protein nuggets are the first in a line of “Raised & Rooted” products from Tyson Foods. The brand's CEO explains they’re catering to the “growing number of people open to flexible diets that include both meat and plant-based protein”—aka young flexitarians, not full-time vegans. But can a company known for its meat sell the idea that “this [trend] is about ‘and’—not ‘or’”? (The Verge)

Snapchatters can shop Levi’s new Pride Month jacket via selfie filter. The Shoppable feature is first enabled by scanning a QR code found at select stores or by getting a special Snapcode from a friend. Then, users can try on the special-edition trucker jacket via augmented reality, customizing it with one of two washes and a selection of six pins and patches. Once they complete the look, users can purchase the Pride Month Jacket—without ever leaving the app. (SJ)

Amazon’s new Echo Dot Kids Edition revamps the original. The new smart speakertakes many cues from the adult version’s second generation (it’s louder and rounder) but adds special features just for kids that go beyond a rainbow-striped color scheme. The device will come with a year of FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription service that includes popular Alexa skills like Pinkfong’s Baby Shark Adventures, as well as an enhanced parental control suite to address growing privacy concerns. (VarietyCNET)

Quote of the Day: “Young people still have an incredible interest in the Olympic Games…But the way they are consuming the Olympic Games—the type of content they are watching and the ways and the platforms on which they are watching—are fundamentally changing.”—Kit McConnell, Sports Director, International Olympic Committee (Bloomberg)

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