As we head into a connected 2017, it’s time to take quick look at the events in 2016 that shaped the technology ecosystem. Here are some of the highlights.

Good news dear humans, bots haven't been able to take over us this year. However, this year we have seen our mechanical relatives pick up some impressive skills. Rockets that return back to land. Cars receiving critical Over the Air (OTA) software updates. Smart homes that let you control lighting, thermostat and even cook via a mobile app.
 
Every year technology is changing the way we work and interact. With the boom in IoT; Devices, vehicles and buildings become connected to deliver the next generation of consumer experience. Data-driven decision making seems to be the next big thing in technology. As connected solutions transform businesses, homes, automobiles and healthcare sector with no signs of stopping, the potential is endless. 
 
Though these innovations might need some polishing, they offer us insight into the future. 
Let us revisit the impressive innovations which shaped 2016.
 
France becomes the First federal postal service to use drones for delivering mails
Need to deliver a parcel? Just use drone delivery. The mail delivery program is a project of the French national postal service DPD Group along with Atechsys, a French Drone company. The experimentation of this program began in 2014. 
 
The drone services have been setup to deliver parcels on a nine-mile route once a week and can fly up to 12 miles, carrying approximately two pounds at 19 miles per hour. The mail program represents the first step towards commercial adoption and solves the issue of delivering to remote areas. 
 
And Amazon isn't far behind. With Amazon also successfully completing its first drone delivery in the UK, drones set to make delivery fast and efficient.
 
Reusable rockets making an upright landing and refueling
Gone are the days when a rocket flew into space and not return, causing only debris and waste in the atmosphere. On a quest to make spaceflights cheaper, two tech billionaires made it happen. Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin and Musk's Space X successfully made upright rocket landings. 
 
While a rocket would simply break apart making it unusable forever, the technology used by SpaceX and Blue Origin uses thrusters and flaps to slow the rocket at the precise moment. A rocket costs millions of dollars to produce and to bring it back from space to the atmosphere successfully sets the stage for a new spaceflight era.
 
TESLA’s autopilot electric car
A car which drives itself in a variety of conditions by analyzing data. Elon Musk's electric car company, Tesla, initially began rolling out ultrasonic sensors for car's bumper and sides. Later, Tesla released a technology package which combined sensors, a front camera along with digitally controlled brakes. With all the tech and hardware combined, Tesla gathered data streams to unveil its software update - Tesla Version 7.0, nickname Autopilot. The company made a breakthrough in autonomous driving and joined industry players like Ford, General Motors, Google and Mercedes to name a few.
 
Tesla cars could now manage speed, change lanes, park itself and self-steer, which is a giant leap towards full autonomous driving. With a data-driven approach, the self-driving cars could arrive soon.  
 
AI predicts Trump’s win
MogIA, an AI tool created by an Indian startup predicts Trump's win.
 
The tool developed by Sanjiv Rai has already correctly predicted the previous three US election results by analyzing data from over 20 million social media posts. MogIA used sentiment analysis to determine the US presidential election win. This proves the growing power of social media and its role as tool for listening to customers.
 
Capturing augmented reality with Snap’s spectacles
Let people see through your own eyes. 
 
Snapchat rebranded itself as Snap Inc. while introducing Spectacles. Snap Inc.'s spectacles seem to be on the lines of Google Glass.  However, they have been made for a specific purpose, to allow the wearer for shooting a 115 degree, ten-second video.  Priced at $130, spectacles are easy on the pocket and can be imported to Snapchat's memories section. 
 
With Augmented reality becoming a part of our lives, the spectacles seem to take the next step in offering an immersive experience.
 
Amazon Echo the AI home assistant
Control your house with a speaker. The hands-free, voice controlled speakers by Amazon have a powerful speech processor to deliver accurate speech recognition. Echo houses Alexa, a cloud-based, voice-activated platform. Amazon has introduced the device as an attempt to diversify beyond its reading device 'Kindle'. The device is capable of voice interaction, music playback, and providing real-time information. Companies including Philips Hue, Ford, Belkin WeMo have added confirmed integration announcement with Amazon Echo. Alexa even supports IFTTT applets, to let you create home automation recipes.
 
The device supports manual and voice activated remote control for being used as a home automation hub to manage other devices.
 
TV as the Smart HUB
Don't know whether to do away with your TV? Now control your home remotely with TV as the hub. With Samsung introducing SUHD TVs, every 4K TV can serve as a smart hub or controller for the smart home which includes sensors, lights and thermostats.  
 
Another interesting development is the launch of webOS 3.0 smart tv platform by LG Electronics, which includes the new IoTV app. The smart TV platform promises remote features along with a host of content options. Controlling home appliances all from the TV is resulting in less clutter and improved efficiency.
 
Receive car updates over OTA like your phone
Over the Air (OTA) updates not just for Tesla anymore. Receive car updates over OTA like your phone. Until now, automakers used over-the-air updates over cellular networks to handle software improvements. With connected vehicles becoming enabled to transmit data, Harman introduces over-the-air (OTA) updates through its service delivery platform. The platform enables a car maker to update any software or firmware on the car. From engine management to infotainment services, all system updates can be made via OTA.
 
The rise of smart building solutions
One of the most anticipated trend of 2016 is the smart building solution.
 
With the increasing demand to curb down electrical costs, high performing buildings aimed to reduce power consumption are an attractive investment. Installing smart building solutions is the key to unlock a host of add-on benefits. 
 
Building owners can easily collect data related to building, occupant's safety and satisfaction to reduce operating costs.
 
JetBlue employs high-speed internet & mobile payments to improve customer experience
JetBlue is the world's six largest airline, launched JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV) to invest in startups in the machine learning space related to the travel market. JetBlue aims to find the latest technology to improve customer service experience and deploy faster payment options. The move by CIO Eash Sundaram is aimed to ensure that JetBlue can capture a major chunk of market share leveraging machine learning and analytics.
 
Arrival of bots in retail space
This year witnessed some big changes in the retail industry, with brands like Target re-designing their stores for entering the online space. 
 
With chatbots and AI entering the retail space, businesses look to improve customer service. As a customer expects timely response, chatbots are a way to boost response and assist in inquiries. 
 
Clothing brands like H&M is leveraging technology to suggest clothes to shoppers, along with the use of beacons and apps for building brand loyalty. These in-store tech innovations are the beginning of the future tech retail.
 
Twitter streams NFL’s Thursday Night Football
Now watch The National Football League on Twitter. NFL and Twitter made an exclusive deal to deliver live OTT stream of Thursday night football across devices. With over 800 million users worldwide, the partnership includes live streaming, game highlights along with pre-game Periscope highlights to provide fans with an immersive game experience. 
 
The partnership marks NFL's presence across digital platforms for providing valuable sports entertainment. With digital coming into play, the content consumption platforms are evolving. 
 
KFC AI outlet in Beijing
The first smart restaurant by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) launched in Financial Street area of Beijing. To create an innovative dining experience for its customers, KFC along with Baidu, China's largest search engine started the artificial intelligence-enabled store. 
 
A consumer can click a picture with the machine, which will recognize a person's face, age, mood and other features to recommend the suitable food. 
 
On a revisit, the machine can show the previous order history for quick order. With the digitalization of restaurants, faster and easier service possible.
 
Digital Transformation at the State Level
Artificial intelligence will power the next generation of customer experience. While every device becomes connected, the need to analyze data becomes essential to compete. Digital business transformation will require a technology led mindset which will include the entire business functions - marketing, sales and IT. 
 
As organizations continue to strive a balance with technology and business priorities, the need to define a path for progress becomes essential.
 
We at HARMAN are betting big on the Connected Enterprise in 2017. To know how design, data and devices can transform your enterprise and help you identify new channels of revenue and profitability, click here.