Even if you don’t want to get involved with a new tech trend, you will eventually have to learn it. That’s why I’m here: in 2023, as in previous years, there will be many technical terms that you haven’t heard of yet. Or existing terms will take on entirely new meanings.
Either way, you need to know about it. You are hungry for knowledge, I feel. So, without further ado, here are some technology terms you need to learn before the calendar changes.
First, let’s start with Extended Reality, also known as “XR”. This is not a new term by any means, but one that we will probably hear in the future as companies like Meta push their vision of the metaverse into our lives.
Thankfully, XR is very easy to understand; XR is an umbrella term that encompasses virtual reality, augmented reality, and everything in between. As you know, VR is wearing a headset like the Meta Quest 2 and playing in a completely virtual world; AR is digitally placing virtual objects in the real world, like Snap’s filters. The two combined are called Mixed Reality, which also comes under the XR umbrella.
With Meta launching a mixed-reality headset called Quest Pro, and Apple planning to launch its product, XR is poised to have its moment in 2023.
No, this is not the proud Na’vi of Pandora or the bald kid with an arrow in his head. The technical definition of “avatar” is much less cool.
But at least it is simple. An avatar, whether in a video game, a metaverse, or anywhere else, is simply a digital representation of oneself. It can look like you or SpongeBob with a water cigarette in his mouth. That’s the beauty of digital worlds like VRChat.
You can be creative or not. It doesn’t matter to me. However, if you haven’t created an avatar, you may have to one day.
The technical details behind stable diffusion are too high-level for me and probably for you. A Medium post explains it if you are interested, but it is more important to understand what stable diffusion does than how it works.
Simply put, stable diffusion is a specific type of AI text-to-image generation that emerged in 2022; unlike competitors such as DALL-E, stable diffusion can be run directly from a computer’s GPU (DALL-E, by contrast, is cloud-only), and the code behind it is open source, so people can do whatever they want with it.
After all, it’s another way to generate a video of Peter Griffin dunking a basketball over Sonic the Hedgehog. Just be aware that you may be accidentally stealing the work of an actual human artist in the process.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term that has been around for decades; AI is the ability of machines to recognize and manipulate information. Nevertheless, AI will be around a lot in 2023, so it is worth looking at at least a few common applications.
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We have already covered AI image generation with stable diffusion and “DALL-E” offerings. Another example is how phones like the Google Pixel 7 automatically fix the photos you take and give you a graphical UI for the automatic phone menu, also lumped together with AI. There is also a new chatbot called ChatGPT, which will take whatever you give. It takes any prompt and spits out, well, something. It is often ridiculously wrong, but at least give it a try.
Smart home enthusiasts may be especially noteworthy: Google, Amazon, and Apple each have smart home products in the works. To maximize their potential, you must buy all products from the same brand and ensure they interact with each other; if Matter is successful, that’s a thing of the past.
The matter is a new standard for smart home products, Apple’s HomePod, that aims to make different brands of products work together in the same home ecosystem. The Verge has a great explanation of how this will work once Matter devices hit the market. Verge has a great explanation, but the short version is that you need one device in your home that acts as a “controller.” This could be anything from an Amazon Echo to an Apple TV 4K.
With a Matter controller, you can connect to and use any other Matter-enabled device nearby; Matter devices will not be widely available until 2023, but when they are, you can use Siri to issue commands to your Google Nest device. This is pretty cool. This would be pretty cool, and I’d love to see it happen.
What’s not cooler than Matter is what’s happening now with streaming services like HBO Max, where shows like “Westworld” are being taken off the service, and fans are anxious to see where they’ll be able to watch them in the future. Introducing FAST, free ad-supported television.
FAST is a new trend in streaming, and as the name suggests, it offers free streaming content, but with the caveat that ads are displayed. FAST services include Roku TV and Amazon’s Freevee; for example, you can watch anything with the FAST service. It doesn’t cost money, but the available content won’t be as good as the premium services, and you also have to put up with ads.
There are rumours that Westworld may be entering the FAST territory, so you might want to be aware of this concept.
The year 2023 should bring a lot of new gaming buzzwords. Still, one of the most notable existing buzzwords is Deep Learning Supersampling, or DLSS, developed by Nvidia for high-end PC graphics cards. Still, rumours have been rife for the past few years that Nintendo is planning to adopt it for its next game console; There have been persistent rumors that Nintendo plans to adopt it for its upcoming game console, the Switch. So what is it?
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Simply put, DLSS is a technology that uses AI to upscale images to a higher resolution than they are originally at so that something running at 720p or 1080p can appear as if it is running at 1440p or 4K resolution by using DLSS. AI can even improve the game’s operation simply by creating a higher-quality image than exists.
At a time when the Switch is severely underpowered, and Steam Deck is stealing people’s hearts, DLSS (again, purely theoretical) could be a way for Nintendo to catch up a bit in the hardware arms race.