There are plenty of incredible people out there who have helped emerging tech make great strides this year. Whilst it would be impossible to list everybody, I wanted to put together a list of some key people who come to mind that deserve some thanks for their efforts this year.

Highlights from 2015 in emerging tech!

Highlights from 2015 in emerging tech!

David Francis – AR and the IoT

David is an augmented reality and IoT specialist with an incredible passion for these areas. He has spoken at various events throughout 2015 helping spread understanding of the potential of virtual and augmented reality. His talk at the IoT Sydney meetup on augmented reality was one of the best and most inspiring talks I’ve ever seen. My favourite of his pieces of work this year was an augmented reality collaboration with Toys”R”Us Australia. David, for bringing more passion into my soul for augmented reality than I already had (and for spreading so much positive and accurate knowledge of VR and AR to the community) – thank you!

David’s Twitter: @arstralian

Ralph Osterhout – AR

Ralph is an incredibly talented guy who has invented technology for everything from toys to top secret US Department of Defense creations. In 2015, as founder and CEO of the Osterhout Design Group (ODG), he pushed the potential for heads up displays and augmented reality to greater heights. Even the Microsoft Hololens revealed this year owes much of its existence to dozens of ODG patents which Microsoft bought in 2013. ODG have a new headset available for pre-order this year, the R-7 Glasses System, which appears to use new technology the company has developed. Clearly, Ralph and ODG have been essential in so much of the AR potential we see today. Ralph, for all of your efforts in pushing technology to new heights, thank you.

Ralph’s ODG’s Twitter: @OsterhoutGroup

Mike Jay – VR/AR

Mike was an absolute champion for the VR/AR space in Australia this year. He powered through and put together several events in a series called “Convergence”. These events provided talks, networking opportunities and inspiration around VR and AR. Thanks to Mike, so many businesses around Australia had their eyes firmly fixed on the potential of VR/AR this year. It will be exciting to see where this enthusiasm leads Australia’s innovation in VR. Mike, for all that you have done to help spur talk around emerging tech this year, thank you!

Mike’s Convergence Facebook: Convergence Events

Josh Carpenter, Kevin Ngo and Chris Van – VR

Josh, Kevin and Chris launched A-Frame at Mozilla in December, a markup framework for creating WebVR experiences for desktop, iPhones and the Oculus Rift (other platforms coming soon). This is set to help WebVR explode with new developers giving it a go. I cannot wait to see where A-Frame takes WebVR in 2016. The significance of this release cannot be understated for WebVR. To the A-Frame team, thank you for helping push VR on the web forward in a big way.

Josh’s Twitter: @joshcarpenter

Kevin’s Twitter: @ngokevin_

Chris’ Twitter: @cvanw

Brandon Jones – VR

Brandon has been working crazy hard implementing WebVR in Chrome builds throughout 2015, getting it working with each Oculus Rift and HTC Vive update (along with Google Cardboard). None of WebVR’s progress would be possible in Chrome without this man! Brandon, for all of your work helping spur on innovation in WebVR, thank you.

Brandon’s Twitter: @Tojiro

Vladimir Vukicevic – VR

Vladimir has been another big proponent for WebVR at Mozilla. He made a lot of contributions to the WebVR spec with Brandon Jones. He helped WebVR take its first steps and without him WebVR would not be here today. Vladimir, thank you!

Vlad’s Twitter: @vvuk

Boris Smus – VR

Boris is an interaction engineer at Google who put together the WebVR Boilerplate this year. His boilerplate has made the initial ground work for getting a WebVR project up and running so much simpler. We’ve had a bunch of projects emerge from this boilerplate, thank you Boris for this fantastic boilerplate!

Boris’ Twitter: @borismus

Diego Marcos – VR

Diego put together two Three.js extensions called VREffect and VRControls which enabled a crazy amount of the VR and JavaScript development in 2015. Diego, the browser based VR community of developers owes you a great deal of thanks. Thank you!

Diego’s Twitter: @dmarcos

Joe Ludwig – VR

Joe has been working at Valve on their VR efforts since 2015, helping continue Valve’s very honourable goal of eliminating the gatekeepers in VR. He has put a lot of work into the OpenVR SDK, an SDK that allows access to VR hardware from multiple vendors without needing to code for each individually. The end goal – to foster an open ecosystem like we have with PC gaming. For developers around the world, this is undeniably beneficial. Joe, you do not receive enough thanks – thank you!

Joe’s Twitter: @joeludwig

Kain Tietzel and Martin Taylor – VR

Kain and Martin are two of the most enthusiastic and professional guys in VR that I have met. They founded StartVR in Sydney this year and really hit the ground running, spreading word about VR’s benefits and potential to the masses. They have been the first VR company to show me an incredibly well polished demo that genuinely looked above and beyond the typical tech prototype. They have a great eye for VR and I can’t wait to see where their VR creations go in 2016.

StartVR’s Twitter: @Start_VR

Kain’s Twitter: @KainTietzel

Martin’s Twitter: @restofreality

Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel – IoT

Stacey hosts the IoT Podcast with Kevin Tofel, an incredible resource for keeping up with news and insights in the Internet of Things. Throughout this year, they’ve helped explain the changes in the IoT space in a way that only Stacey and Kevin can! They are a pleasure to listen to. Some highlights for me this year include – their comparison of the functionality of various IoT hubs, Stacey’s fantastic interview with the Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton on the new $5 Pi and her interview with the CEO of PTC after they acquired AR platform Vuforia. Stacey was even lovely enough to take some time out to be interviewed by me for Dev Diner this year. For keeping everyone up to date on the world of the IoT – thank you Stacey and Kevin.

Stacey’s Twitter: @gigastacey

Kevin’s Twitter: @KevinCTofel

Justin Mclean – IoT

Justin is one of my favourite people in the IoT sphere. He is the organiser of my favourite meetup of every month – the IoT Sydney meetup. Not only that but he provides an incredible level of inspiration and passion in gathering the IoT community around to discuss and explore the potential in emerging tech. He is always willing to lend a hand and has run a bunch of workshops to help people make their first steps into the area. I don’t think I could thank Justin enough for all he has done but a mention here hopefully shall suffice for 2015! Justin, thank you for all of the great things you do.

Justin’s Twitter: @justinmclean

Christine Sunu – IoT

Christine Sunu spent much of this year working in community engagement for Particle (formerly known as Spark) and helped a lot of developers making their start into the IoT. She recently joined BuzzFeed’s Open Lab for Journalism, Technology and The Arts, where she wrote an article entitled “Internet Connected, Emotionally Distant“. This post alone makes her a worthy mention here. Thank you Christine for contributing a great deal to the IoT this year, I can’t wait to see what your work at BuzzFeed’s Open Lab brings!

Christine’s Twitter: @christinesunu

Valentin Heun – IoT

Valentin Heun worked with the MIT Media Lab Fluid Interfaces Group to put together Open Hybrid and the Reality Editor. Open Hybrid is a very promising IoT control platform that utilises augmented reality and the Reality Editor is an AR app that can link IoT objects together by drawing connections between them with your finger. This stuff has the potential to completely revolutionise how the IoT industry thinks about user interfaces. Valentin and the team at MIT Media Lab – thank you for your incredible work.

Valentin’s Twitter: @dervali

Alex Hawkinson and Andrew Brooks – IoT

Alex and Andrew are the founders of SmartThings, an IoT hub platform that has kept growing throughout 2015 after being acquired by Samsung late last year. Their passion for the IoT has helped create a platform with so much potential. Their second generation hub was released this year and has a growing number of compatible devices, helping bring the connected home to the world. Alex and Andrew, thank you both for the herculean efforts that go into building an IoT hub that is compatible with so many different devices.

Alex’s Twitter: @ahawkinson

Andrew’s Twitter: @andrewcbrooks

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino – IoT

Alexandra is a design consultant, the creator of the Goodnight Lamp and the organiser of the IoT London meetup. She spends so much time giving back to the community, speaking at events and helping move the IoT forward. I’ve seen her mentioned countless times this year! For everything you have done to help advance the IoT, thank you.

Alexandra’s Twitter: @iotwatch

David Isbitski – IoT

Dave is Chief Evangelist for Alexa and Echo at Amazon. The Amazon Echo made a massive wave in the IoT ecosystem this year with a really well received product that is available for developers to build upon to their heart’s content. Dave has been out there speaking about the potential of the IoT and Amazon’s approach to it, helping developers get involved and providing great support and encouragement to them. Thank you Dave!

Dave’s Twitter: @thedavedev

David Newman – IoT

David is the director of enterprise growth initiatives and head of Target’s San Francisco office. They put together a really interesting concept this year which was one of the best attempts at bringing the IoT to the masses. David and his team at Target put together the Target Open House in San Francisco, an experiment showing the public how various connected devices can work together. David, thank you for your efforts in putting together a great way of showing the public the benefits of the IoT!

David’s Twitter: @d__newman

David Oro – IoT

Yep. It turns out, unintentionally, that a lot of IoT enthusiasts this year have the name David. David Oro founded IoT Central this year, a community of IoT enthusiasts. This site is a wonderfully valuable source of IoT information and insight! Any IoT enthusiasts should definitely check out IoT Central. David, thank you for your efforts putting IoT Central together and for starting conversation on some key areas in the IoT this year.

David’s Twitter: @davidoro

Tony Beltramelli, He Wang and their teams – Wearables

Tony Beltramelli, a masters student at the IT University of Copenhagen, produced one of the most fascinating security papers on the potential for “deep-spying” via smartwatches. He Wang, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois, looked into the same idea earlier this year with the Samsung Gear Live. It turns out wearable devices can theoretically be used to reveal what you are typing. Beltramelli, Wang and your fellow researchers, you all deserve thanks for getting the wearable developer community thinking about the potential security issues of these devices.

Tony’s Twitter: @tbeltramelli

He Wang’s University of Illinois Profile:

Brad Murray and his team at Pebble – Wearables

Brad is the Firmware Lead at Pebble. His team were nominated to me specifically for their work porting Pebble Time’s v3.x firmware onto the classic Pebble watches. A very impressive undertaking which has brought new life into thousands of existing Pebble watches! Thank you for all of your hard work on that project and so much of the work bringing Pebble to greater heights with the Pebble Time this year.

Brad’s Twitter: @bradtgmurray

Eric Migicovsky – Wearables

Eric, the founder of Pebble, deserves an incredible amount of kudos for getting Pebble to where it is at the end of 2015. So many people spent all of 2015 (especially the start of the year) discarding Pebble as a contender in the smartwatch arena after the big players entered the ring, yet Eric powered on and stuck with it, bringing Pebble Time to the world and leading Pebble to new heights. It completely eclipsed its Kickstarter campaign record, solidifying its place as the most successful Kickstarter product of all time. Eric’s approach is a great lesson for wearable companies out there – have a vision for your product and stay focused on that vision. Eric sees Pebble as the “Swatch of the smartwatch world” and has stayed true to that vision. In fact, since the Apple Watch launched they’ve doubled their sales. There are clear lessons in the Pebble strategy for many entrepreneurs in emerging tech. Thank you Eric, you’ve inspired me and many others this year.

Eric’s Twitter: @ericmigi

Serge Vasylechko and Alireza Tahmasebzadeh – Wearables

Serge and Alireza founded BLOCKS, a modular smartwatch which hit Kickstarter this year and managed to become the tenth most successful wearable/smart home crowdfunding campaign to date. The whole idea of a modular smartwatch could be set to change the approach to wearables, providing a way to personalise every wearable to its wearer and reduce waste by allowing for updates to individual components rather than the entire device. I spoke to the BLOCKS team to ask some developer focused questions earlier this year and found the whole concept very exciting! Serge and Alireza, thank you for your efforts in rethinking wearables.

Serge’s Twitter: @sergeicu

Alireza’s Twitter: @a_tahmaseb


That concludes my thanks and follows for 2015 in emerging tech! I’m certain there are dozens (if not hundreds!) of others in emerging tech that are very deserving of some thanks and recognition who aren’t mentioned here. If you’ve got someone in mind, feel free to mention them in the comments or tweet at me via @devdiner. I’m looking to make regular lists throughout 2016, so please send me names throughout the year if you see people in emerging tech who really do deserve kudos. I’d love to recognise them in a future list!

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