Tech. Predictions for Twenty Ten!
I don't know about you but I didn't get many gadgets this Christmas - come to think of it I didn't get many presents full stop. Maybe it's my age - or do I have fewer friends than I used to? I did get some clothes so at least my wardrobe got some new friends, although I notice it still has some hangers on. Anyway, it's the turn of another year and I've got to get my crystal balls out and put them on the line again with my tech predictions for the coming 12 months. I'm going to start somewhat contentiously: 1. After an initial burst of interest, e-readers/ebooks/Kindles will be a flop in their current guise. People will realise that their iPhones and smartphones will do a reasonable job and they don't need this bulky piece of additional plastic in their oversized pockets. Now, not wanting to backtrack on this prediction, I do think e-readers will make a comeback within two years, but in the guise of bendy, foldable plastic. A bit like this. 2. The ingenious Powermats will be superceded by wireless and contactless electricity adaptors. Eh? What? It's been a few days since New Years Eve and you're off your trolley already, Dan! No, really. I blogged some time in the distant past about something called Witricity, where it is possible to conduct/induct electricity without contact. Witricity itself has been slow to progress but other forms are now making a charge to get your attention. By the end of this year I predict at the very least you'll see commercial adaptors that plug into your socket and will allow you to power small goods without wires. Although there will be health concerns a la mobile phones, I think this industry will only get bigger and stronger. 3. Pico Projectors have been around for some time but they have had two main drawbacks: reduced lumens and a limited focal point range. Laser Pico Projectors, however, have a brighter future and will be commercially available this year, probably in the first 6 months (although my colleague Bill is sceptical). Laser projectors always maintain focus and generally provide sharper images. That said, I think they will still need to be brighter for them to find their niche. 4. Blu-ray discs will start to be threatened by SD cards (and their ilk). Why do we really want to buy these discs that scratch so easily? And SD cards can already hold 32GB compared to a single layer blu-ray disc of 25GB. Some people I speak to think that SD cards are physically too small for this to happen and people would be worried about losing them. I think people used to have the same concern when we went from Vinyl to Magnetic Tape (oh, those were the days). 5. Perhaps the most exciting innovation to reach its potential this year is Augmented Reality. This is basically the concept of overlaying information on real images. So, a simple example would be for a program to combine your iPhone's camera, GPS and internet connection, and when you point your phone's camera anywhere in your street then information about where you are will magically appear over the image. It could be that you point to the entrance of London Zoo and then a herd of elephants raid your phone's screen, or you could point it to Debenhams and it could immediately tell you about current special offers. You could also get a running narrative of tourist information where ever you are. Augmented Reality has lots of uses but probably the most fun will be games. You could play real monopoly in London, or you could walk around your street and see aliens land on your house and you have to shoot them down. For the fitness fanatic, you could actually race against Paula Radclifffe and watch her on your screen as if she was ahead of you (well, she's not going to be behind you is she?). Whatever you can think of, I'm sure you'll soon find an App For That (tm). What will really turn Augmented Reality on its (or your) head is when you will be able to use eye glasses as your device's screen - but that's going to be 5 years away, followed by contact lens versions in 10 years. 6. The Operating System of 2009 was undoubtedly Windows 7, and it will certainly build on its momentum. However, the talk of 2010 will certainly be Google's Chrome OS. I actually don't think it will take off incredibly well this year but it will do within the next three years. It's funny to think that we're heading back to dumb terminals with Netbooks and Chrome OS. We'll not just see big brands like Asus and Samsung release Chrome Netbooks, I think we'll see Google release their own brand too. But why don't I think it will take off that much? I think phones have stolen the march in this area at the moment and we're not ready to move back. When Netbooks first came out, they were effectively toys that you could easily surf the internet with, but as they have become more powerful people are starting to use them for serious work as well. Google's Chrome OS is effectively a glorified web browser - the only thing you can do is use Web Applications. That's not a bad thing and is certainly how the industry will end up to a large degree, but I think it's come before its time - by a few years. That said, right now you can use the "Cloud" to write documents, build spreadsheets, produce presentations, draw pictures, collaborate with the world and, and, and! It's a really exciting time for the Web right now, and Google are spot on with the model... but I don't think it will see a huge take up this year as people are still nervous about this Cloud / SaaS thing. Sceptics should consider this, though: many Cloud Applications are probably more secure than your own PC or small business/home network. Better news for Google's OSs this year will be that Android will make serious inroads to Apple's monopoly and will become the second most popular mobile operating system by the year end, leaving Microsoft in third place because they have taken too long to get to grips with handheld operating systems without styluses. As a side note, I don't understand why Samsung are getting in on the mobile operating system game, it's such a tough market and may impact sales of their own (and generally very good) mobile phone devices. 7. I'm hoping Apple haven't announced anything before I manage to finish writing this post, but get ready for the iSlate, or whatever they decide to call it. Apple WILL be releasing a tablet PC and if it's anything like most other things Apple, it will be more stylish than its competitors. Expect Apple's PR machine to be bobbing around in the next couple of weeks with more news on this. 8. Speaking of Apple, I predict they will be building a new internet-ready red box for the Chancellor. I think they will be calling it the iBrows, but they will be breaking with tradition by only offering it in one colour. 9. I made a prediction about 3D last year, and I wasn't far off the mark. And news has it that Sky will be launching a 3D box this year, and that broadcasters recording this year's World Cup will be recording it in 3D (no news on whether they will actually broadcast it in 3D though - but if they hear the news from Sky then hopefully they can score some kind of deal). Sticking with 3D, but one for the future, I predict you will see 3D phones come out in the next 5 years. Imagine being able to take 3D pictures with your phone and show them in 3D to your Mum (there are already standalone 3D cameras and Digital Picture frames). Sooner than that, though, you'll see the new version of HDMI released that includes support for 3D HD video. 10. Twitter will support audio micro blogging. There are a few sites that do this already but Twitter is yet to respond. You'll get mobile phone apps that let you record something and post it straight to Twitter. One final prediction, but one for my yet-to-be-conceived grandchildren, is that within 15 years, you will be able to buy digital wallpaper. It will use OLED technology but you will be able to change the style simply by uploading a new image to it using its in-built wifi. It could even be an animated image. I wish I'd be young enough to enjoy it but I think I might be more interested in slippers, pipes and rocking chairs by then (I'm already part way there). Before I leave you to ponder on my madness let's see how well I did on last year's predictions - with a bit of luck I'll have done better than the year before! 1. Integrated cameras and digital photo printers (a la Polaroid) will be available by the end of the year Bingo! Polaroid actually released one! 1/1 2. OLED (that’s Organic Light Emitting Diode), will be the big technology of 2009. Maggy's Den, bingo again! OLED is being used on mobile phones, mobile devices, [expensive] TVs and many other things right now, and it will just get bigger. 2/2 3. Mobile phones will go a step further and integrate a projector Well, they did - see here. It hasn't made mainstream yet but it will do. Watch this space over the next year as well. 3/3 Oh, and not forgetting the fantastic Nikon Projector Camera last year. This is the shape of things to come, folks! 4. Windows 7 will be the talk of the operating systems Thank goodness for Windows 7 and Hasta la vista, Vista! A breath of fresh air from Microsoft - they can now repair their operating system reputation. Windows 7 has already sold twice that of Vista in the same timeframe. 4/4 5. new Netbooks going for £50 Errr, fail. Sorry, I must have got carried away. There's always this year! 4/5 6. Google will tailor their Android operating system for Netbooks Oooooooh, so close!!!! It wasn't actually a tailored version of Android per se, but they are going to release Chrome OS for Netbooks. Can I have half a point? Thanks. 4.5/6 7. The uptake of cloud computing will at least triple this year I hate it when I use stats like that as I can't back them up! I suppose I could tell you that it did triple and you might believe me. That said, Microsoft did get in on the game with Azure, and the Los Angeles city government decided to adopt Google's e-mail and Docs applications for about 30,000 city employees. There is true growth and it probably trippled, so I'm probably right. 5.5/7... probably. 8. We’ll enter another dimension Yep, 3D exploded in 2009. Better 3D devices are around now, 3D cameras, 3D Digital Photo Frames, several types of 3D TVs (due to be commercially available this year), 3D HDMI standard ratified,, and Sky have announced that they will be launching a 3D service. But don't be greedy, 3D, you don't need to cost the Earth! 6.5/8 9. iPlayer will launch a HD service early this year Oh yes! And don't us ISPs know it ;-) Fibre optic broadband will come of age just in time for streaming 3D HD videos! 7.5/9 10. We’ll see the first 1TB SSD Just in the nick of time OCZ Technology spares my blushes. 8.5/10 11. Twitter will get bought. Fail :-( 8.5/11 12. Facebook will finally get bought. Fail again! Although this story has sparked rumours of a floatation which would likely lead to a sale at some point. 8.5/12 13. Yahoo! will finally get bought. Grrr, I'm losing face now!!! That said, I think I can scrape my lip off the floor a little bit given that Techcrunch reported "Microsoft will now power Yahoo! search while Yahoo! will become the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.". I'm going to give myself half a point again. 9/13 14. Hydro-cars will finally see mass production by the end of this year. Every car company is now revving up in the race to be the hybrid of choice, whether it's hydro or battery. Whether it's Ford, Toyota, Honda, BMW or Mercedes, they're all at it. 10/14 15. I’ll get more predictions right this year than last year Well it wasn't difficult, a chicken could have beaten last year's paltry score of 5/10. So this year I end up with a whopping 11/15, even if it did require a bit of creative scoring! So, what do you think? Am I off my rocker? Have you got any better or more interesting suggestions? Do you think Google will be frugal or do you think they will grapple with Apple? Let us know and get your name in lights. If you're right I'll post about you next year! In any case, have a fantastic 2010! Here's looking forward to the Gadget Show Live in April! Dan
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