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The Four Best Breakthrough Tech Inventions Of 2017

From Paying With Your Face To Flying Cars; This Is What The Future Looks Like

With a constant stream of technological innovations and gadgets emerging onto the market at break necking speed, it might be a tad difficult to decipher which of these technologies actually have staying power. With that in mind, here are what the technology cognoscenti tout to be the most groundbreaking technological innovations of 2017, poised to redefine our daily lives.

Facial Recognition: Paying With Your Face

When it comes to digital payments, China seems to be streets ahead everyone else. The latest leap is facial recognition technology allows a customer to pay by literally flashing a smile. Forget the hassle of cash, credit cards or even PayPal, facial recognition systems are heralding a new era of payment mode that requires just your face for authorisation. In China, the facial recognition technology is now being utilised to authorise payments, provide security authentication for access to facilities and even track own criminals.

This year, the e-commerce giant Alibaba launched its ‘smile to pay’ facial recognition payments at KFC chain stores in Hangzhou, China. Customers simply need to enable facial recognition on their mobile Alipay app for payment and process to a 3D camera located at the point-of-sale will scan the customer’s face to verify their identity. For added security, there is also a phone number verification option.

Under the hood of this system, Alibaba utilises a technology called Face++ from Chinese startup Megvii, which raised over $150 million from investors that include Foxconn. Face++, valued at roughly a billion dollars, is one of the more prominent companies offering facial recognition systems to the industry heavy hitters including Alipay and Lenovo.


The 360-Degree Selfie

As with most technologies, 360 cameras have become more developed and affordable over the years. These increasingly inexpensive cameras that make spherical images are opening a new era in photography and redefining the way people share stories.

The 360-degree cameras offer the ability to produce immersive videos shot using an omnidirectional camera, producing two-dimensional images and videos that can also be viewed in a virtual reality headset.

The recently launched GoPro Fusion 360-Degree Camera has already received high praise for outstanding design and engineering, even bagging the CES 2018 Innovation Award in the digital imaging category.

With 360 videos becoming more affordable and widely available, user-generated content is set to undergo a renaissance, possibly turning flat one-dimensional images and visual content into a relic.

Razer Project Valerie 

When you’re using a laptop for work or leisure, one screen might not always be sufficient. So why not include three? Homegrown gaming tech company, Razer’s Project Valerie concept helps you achieve just that by creating the world’s first triple display laptop. 

By adding two foldable displays that expand out from the primary screen in the centre, each display is 17 inches diagonally and supports 4K resolution. According to Razer, they can be used independently or together as one giant display. The one downside of this promising prototype is that it weighs a whopping 5.5 kilograms, which may be acceptable for a beefy gaming laptop but is way more than the average notebook.


Uber X NASA Flying Cars

You daily commute might soon involve taking flight abord the UberAir. Uber's planned "flying cars" will navigate crowded city skies by 2020 with some help from NASA, if everything goes according to plan. These aerial taxis which are essentially small planes with wing-mounted propellers are supposed to take off and land vertically on the roofs of buildings. The company have chosen Los Angeles, Dallas, Dubai as well as the United Arab Emirates, as sites for this early push.

The space agency has signed an agreement with Uber to help develop an air-traffic-control system for the flying-car project, according to USA Today.

"UberAir will be performing far more flights over cities on a daily basis than has ever been done before," Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said in the statement provided to USA Today. "Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace-management technologies."

Since 2015, NASA has been hard at work developing similar technologies to help make "urban air mobility" (UAM) a reality, agency officials have said. If achieve, this initiative will no doubt propel us into a new era of aerial transport.