10 Tech Buzzwords of 2016, Explained

All of the tech jargon can get a bit overwhelming sometimes…

There is a lot of different tech jargon floating around the Internet and by word of mouth, but what do all of those tech buzzwords really mean? Click through our slideshow to find out what exactly the tech wizards are referring to when they talk about everything from developments in artificial intelligence over the last year to what features shine bright in the latest smartwatch from Apple.

10 Tech Buzzwords of 2016

1The Internet of Things

This is the concept of the network of all connected devices that can, and do, connect to the Internet. The connection to the Internet creates a web of relationships between devices, people, and things.

It’s a hot topic for businesses and consumers, as it casts a light on the security issues and privacy concerns of having every device in your home connected to the Internet, and therefore potentially vulnerable to hacks.


Also known as: IoT or the Internet of Everything

2Virtual Reality

As the name implies, virtual reality allows you to experience a computer-generated, simulated environment. Wearable headsets are designed to help the user immerse into the virtual world fully, without distractions from the outside (real) world.

While it may seem like a technology that only gamers would enjoy, virtual reality also has many practical applications. From simulated hands-on learning for students in medical school to exploring the ocean floor, the educational opportunities are virtually limitless.


Also known as: VR

3Augmented Reality

Image: Microsoft HoloLens
Similar to virtual reality, computer-generated imagery is blended with the user’s real world environment, so they experience a mix of both real and digitally altered elements in their environment. As we explain here, “Augmented reality is any digital overlay on a user’s existing environment and in the average person’s case, we see this on a device with a flat screen.”

Augmented reality is already impacting the way we use apps, play games, and even learn new skills. Similar to virtual reality, it can become a valuable classroom aid and provide apps with more interactive and engaging features.


Also known as: AR


Image: Olio
Simply put, this is the shorthand terminology for wearable technology. Yes, tech devices and gadgets you literally put on yourself and wear around. This is not to be mistaken for smart devices that you would carry with you, like smartphones or tablets. Think activity trackers, smartwatches, virtual reality headsets – you get the picture.

As we move further and further from clunky tech that isn’t easy to transport, wearables are being made with powerful and helpful technologies for every user.


Also known as: Wearable Tech

5Artificial Intelligence

As defined by the Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, Artificial Intelligence is “an area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence.” Meaning, a machine can make decisions, use context to provide relevant answers, and even interact with humans on a level that goes beyond one simple equation.

Sci-Fi movies with robot overlords and human-like machines are less like a dream and more like a future possibility with the recent advances in AI. How? Keep reading, this ties into the next tech buzzwords on our list!


Also known as: AI

6Machine Learning

Precisely as the name suggests, this is a type of artificial intelligence that allows computers or machines to learn without being explicitly programmed with the information.  It’s a combination of algorithms, pattern recognition, and an ever-growing database of information that aids the machine learning.


Also known as: Deep Learning or Advanced Machine Learning


It’s a hybrid of two devices you probably already know well: Phone and Tablet. Smartphones with a screen size of 5.5” or larger have been dubbed phablets because they are bigger than the average smartphone yet still smaller than most tablets on the market.

While it seemed for many years that smartphones were only getting tinier and tinier, due to the enhanced capabilities and computer-esque features, larger screens are back in vogue. This allows users to do more with their smartphones than just dial a number or send a quick text.


Also known as: Supersized smartphones

8Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is the concept that all Internet providers should not interfere with the information sent on their networks, and in turn that all information should be treated the same across providers. This is a topic of contention for some governments and organizations who wish to have the ability to prioritize certain information or networks over others, creating inequality in the Internet services rendered.

The impact of this change could mean that some information would be censored on some networks, while freely accessible on others. As an example, Internet service providers with the ability to control what information is accessed on their own networks, and even block information from competitors.

Differences in opinion regarding Net Neutrality pushes this toward being one of the most controversial tech buzzwords over the last few years. Proponents of Net Neutrality are pushing for a reclassification of ISPs in the U.S. so that they are classified into a category of companies that are required to provide the same services to everyone. Currently, they are classified as “information service” companies, and are not required to provide the same services to everyone without discrimination.

9Disruptive Technology

A technology that disrupts or challenges the current technology in the market. Most often, this technology provides brand new insight, methodology, and perspective to the technology already available, in a way that forces the current market to change. While some tech buzzwords such as this seem to carry negative connotations, this type of technology isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, we can look back on most disruptive tech in the last 50 years and see major milestones that have brought us to where we are in the digital world today, like moving from writing letters to primarily using email, or even the introduction of Microsoft’s Windows operating systems that brought affordable computers into our homes.


Also known as: Disruptive Innovation


Another of our tech buzzwords is a hybrid of these two terms: Network Etiquette. Essentially, it’s the term for the rules of online etiquette. While the actual rules vary depending on the site or context, the general rules of the web are as follows:

  • Be nice
  • Don’t spam people
  • Be professional
  • Communicate effectively and mindfully (NO ONE WANTS TO GET AN EMAIL IN ALL CAPS)
  • Be mindful of your privacy, and the privacy of others
  • Cite and source, don’t plagiarize

We like to think that the Netiquette golden rule is as simple as treating others online as you’d like to be treated in real life: with kindness and mindfulness.

Also known as: Internet Etiquette

11We hope you liked learning about the top tech buzzwords of 2016!

Do you have other tech buzzwords that you’d like to know more about? Let us know in the comments below and we’d be happy to investigate.

Related Read: The Risks Involved with Connected Home Devices