11 Reasons to Be Optimistic for 2016

VR headsets. "No-frills" airfare. And Axl and Slash, reunited.

By The Editors

11 Reasons to Be Optimistic for 2016
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04 January 2016

Welcome back.

Here's to the resolutions you'll keep and the ones you've already let go.

It was good while it lasted.

And so too will be 2016 — a year that promises to make virtual reality a reality, overseas travel affordable, disconnecting from the grid possible, and Axl and Slash simpatico well-compensated enough to get on stage together for the first time in two decades.

We went ahead and used our digital crystal ball to forecast 11 Reasons to Be Optimistic for 2016.

Get excited.

#1. Virtual Reality: A Reality
After a half-decade-long wait, Oculus Rift will finally be available to consumers in the first quarter of 2016. But it won’t be alone. Nearly $4 billion in venture capital has been raised to fund VR development since 2010, and the industry’s busiest release quarter for new products ever begins in January.

Update: Oculus announced this morning they'll be taking preorders for the first batch of Rifts on Wednesday.

#2. Cheap Travel … If You’re Willing to Make Some Sacrifices
European airlines like Norwegian Air and Iceland’s WOW have been able to radically cut down the cost of overseas journeys by offering “no-frills” fares with a la carte pricing models (the former even claim they’ll be offering a $69 transcontinental fare by 2017). More recently, United and American announced they’ll be launching similar fares to compete domestically with budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier.

#3. Going Off-the-Grid Will Be Easier Than Ever
Last year, Google launched Project Sunroof, a mapping service that tells you whether or not enough sun shines over your property to make solar energy a viable investment. We rounded up some companies that allow homeowners to go about the transition. Combine the rise of solar with Tesla’s recent announcement of Powerwall and Powerpack — massive “grid” batteries that allow homes and businesses to store their own electricity — and you could be looking at an electricity-bill-free future.

#4. Better Sleep Is More Accessible Than Ever
We first wrote about NYC’s Casper in April 2014, when they launched their super affordable, super tech-forward mattress-in-a-box racket. Almost two years on, they’ve inspired a host of imitators but remain the cream of the sheep-counting crop. No schleps out to showrooms in suburbia. No commission-hungry salespeople. No Sisyphean climb to your sixth-floor walk-up. Just a space-age marriage of memory foam and latex that comes with a 100-night, no-questions-asked trial period. Plus: they just added equally featherweight sheets and pillows to their offerings. Use code “insidehook” for $50 off any mattress purchase.

#5. Old Media Is New Again
Vinyl sales hit a 26-year high in 2015. Book sales are down, but it’s e-books — not print — that are bearing the worst of it. And Quentin Tarantino just revived a film format that hadn’t been used since 1966. What’s next? Probably cassette tapes, which are already seeing a resurgence. No word on LaserDisc or 8-tracks, but we’ll keep you posted.

#6. E-Bikes Are Cool Now
Electric bicycles aren’t new. Their destigmatization, however, is. Eco-friendly e-bikes are starting to do big business in the Valley and beyond, and smarter, more attractive models like the Faraday Porteur S and Bolt M-1 mean you won’t get teased by the neighborhood children for riding one.

#7. Reunion Tours
LCD Soundsystem — engineers of one of the most extravagant farewells in recent memoryare reportedly set to kick off a 2016 tour at Coachella after releasing a new song on Christmas Eve. Allegedly sharing top billing with them at the Indio, California festival? A Guns ‘n’ Roses setup featuring Slash and Axl together onstage for the first time in more than 20 years. Also in the rumor mill: Oasis, after long-feuding founders/brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher reconciled at a wedding last summer.

#8. Robots in Your Home
The next big addition to the “Internet of Things”? Social robots. Pepper, a Japanese model, is already selling thousands of units a month, while Jibo — the American equivalent — is set to ship in April or May after a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign followed by a couple successful rounds of VC funding. What’s a social robot? Just watch Jibo in action above. Then retrieve your jaw from the floor.

#9. Male Birth Control Begins Clinical Testing
Vasalgel — an injectable, non-hormonal polymer contraceptive that will reportedly be effective for years — is set to begin clinical trials in 2016, with two pill forms of male contraception (also non-hormonal) also on the horizon. Because you can never be too safe out there.

Scott Boehm/Manica Architecture

#10. The NFL’s (Probable) Return to LA
Today is the deadline for the St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders to apply for relocation to Los Angeles. NFL.com is reporting that all three will file before the day is over. From there, each team will have to secure approval from at least 24 owners at a relocation meeting on January 12th before forking over $550 million to hop towns.

#11. You'll Sleep in a Tiny Home and You'll Like It
The Tiny House Movement is so real it has its own Wikipedia entry. From pre-fab cabins to repurposed shipping containers to Himalayan-style yurts to modern iterations of the car camper, compact, efficiently designed, movable spaces have become big  business. But owning one — assuming you don’t equip top-shelf carpentry skills — doesn’t really come as cheap as you might expect. Solution? Camping and vacationing startups like Tentrr and Getaway that bring you to the tiny home.

Main image via Oculus

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