Technology Trends in 2014 (from 2012)

(While these trends are United States-centric, most of them also apply to other developed countries, and will soon apply to developing countries as well.)

Internet

A significant fraction of households now have 100-200 mbps broadband connections, with pockets of 400 mpbs connections spreading to some cities, and more, but still rare, 1 gbps connections. The arrival of 4K video online and the rapid refashioning of the web into an interactive multi-medium will increase the consumer and business demand for 1 gbps. 

The rollout of LTE-Advanced, with average speeds in excess of 100 mbps will begin. There will be few devices that support this speed.

The Internet of Things and Sensor Web are much more commonly discussed. There are truly more sensors and tracking of objects using the internet, but these are just the early days of a revolution in what the internet is capable of becoming. Our environment will be more aware due to a push by marketers, but AR, lifelogging and ads will be the only beneficiaries at this stage.

Digital Media

In 2014, the Cloud is the primary platform for all digital media, with 1080p, 5.1 surround sound being the standard. 4K video will arrive, with affordable TVs and other displays providing QFHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) or 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) resolution. Television stations and cable companies will have been testing 4K and the first 4K channels will likely be offered by the end of the year. The first 4K digital downloads will arrive to begin filling up the resolution real estate of 4KTVs and other displays. Consumer electronics companies will be talking about their new 4K physical disk formats, but it is likely these will never catch on as streaming and downloads will become overwhelmingly more popular.

Metaverse

Intelligent Agents will pass Social Networks as the most commented upon, reported, hyped, and business-oriented and consumer-facing trend. When merged with Augmented Reality, we will begin to see the spread of cartoon critters that leap around our devices and displays to serve as assistants and entertainment.

Lifelogging continues to improve with the arrival of the Internet of Things and Sensor Web. Activities like waking and falling asleep, health metrics, and activities are commonly collected by consumer electronics and these data have become the foundation for the transformation of Social Networks into Lifelogging Platforms.

Hardware

In 2014, the 4K Video Era will arrive, with affordable TVs and other displays providing QFHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) or 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) resolution. A 42-inch 4KTV will have similar resolutions to desktop computer monitors several years earlier: 105+ pixels per inch. Tablets will be at over 300 ppi (iPhone 4 and 4S are at 326 ppi today) for near-magazine-level crispness in text, and smartphones will be over 600 ppi. Displays will integrate multitouch and haptics for virtual textures and buttons you can “touch”, leading to tablets that can truly compete at the level of productivity currently offered by computers with keyboards. In fact, the tablet could replace the keyboard for our TVs and desktop computers.

Semiconductor manufacturing processes reaches the 14 nanometer node, helping consumer electronics to reach incredible thinness and flexibility. This will allow for the beginning of a proliferation of form factors for computers, including those that can bend, roll up, and fold. Desktops and laptops come standard with 4 to 6 TB of storage capacity, but SSDs in the TB range are even more popular and quickly become the standard. Smartphones and tablets reach 256 GB of flash RAM, which allows for storage of several HD movies or a tens of television shows.

Memristors and ReRAM arrive in consumer electronics, helping to shrink these devices even further, while using less energy than their ancestor devices of 2012. 3D transistors are all the rage, and strontium germanide MISFET transistors arrive.

USB 3.0 and Light Peak are common in devices. Tablets are the new laptop and outsell them now that they are haptic-enabled. TVs are the new desktop and all-in-one.

Sunglasses-style heads-up displays arrive with 1080p resolution and 3D support. They are not widely popular at first as the details are worked out, but their eventual thinness and power will soon make them the new smartphone (probably by 2016).

Robotics

Torsobots are working side-by-side with humans and other robots for consumers are rapidly improving in capabilities, including doing things like washing dishes and windows, folding clothing, and holding and using tools. These are still mostly in the lab, but some consumer-directed offerings arrive. While robots are primarily still single duty, there is a trend already beginning toward general-purpose robots.

Robots begin to migrate out to take care of tedious tasks like maintaining and inspecting high voltage transmission lines, water mains, and sewers. There is a revolution in “hidden” robotics, but we are just a few years away from them taking a more active and public role in labor.

Medicine

Genome sequencing now costs well under $1000 for the individual and can be purchased in doctor’s offices. Many new companies arrive offering this service to individuals, and many more are offering lifelogging platform-oriented analysis of individual genomes.

Very expensive 3-D printing of complex organs arrives. Stem-cell research after languishing for a few years is back in the news with new successes, new methods for obtaining and generating them, and more widespread use despite the lack of FDA approval. In fact, plastic surgeons will begin to make use of these cells more often, including breast reconstruction that avoids the need for implants.

Advanced prostheses that are mind-controlled are in human trials by the end of 2014. The results of suspended animation experiments are published and FDA approval is likely.

Technology Trends in 2012 (From 2012)

(While these trends are United States-centric, most of them also apply to other developed countries, and will soon apply to developing countries as well.)

In 2012, nearly everyone will benefit from faster internet speeds, 1080p video will be everywhere, vast and flexible LCD displays will cover more marketing space, hardware will arrive to support the next step up in resolution and graphics (4K), and a new generation of robots will work side-by-side with human laborers.

Internet

Wider rollout of 50 to 100 mbps broadband, 200 mbps in some locations, 1 gbps in rare locations.

LTE 4G rollout accelerates, providing an average of 10 mpbs via smartphones and other cellular-connected devices.

Digital Media

Massive 1080p (8 to 12 mbps bit rates) digital downloads and streaming video rollout, with 720p downloads and streams being upgraded to 1080p. The first 3D digital download attempts. “HD” music formats as online music retailers seek to differentiate themselves. New gaming consoles will try to stave off the competition from smartphone platforms. The web is shaping up to become the primary TV, movie, music, games, and news platform. Cloud storage capacities (amount of room given to consumers to store their digital media) will increase rapidly.

Metaverse

Licensing of content for augmented reality applications (Disney, etc.) OTOY and OnLive branch out into virtual world hosting. Virtual worlds return to the news with new offerings from competitors to Second Life. Lifelogging popularized and mainstreamed by Facebook. Apple joins the mirror world fray with the first major competitor to Google Earth via iOS.

Hardware

Finally we will see the first 4 TB hard drives widely available for sale to consumers, but SSD prices have been falling quickly and by the end of the year a 1 TB SSD should be around $800. Laptop SSDs will increasingly be 512 GB in size, with very expensive 1 TB options late in the year.

Intel’s Ivy Bridge arrives at the 22 nanometer node with tri-gate 3D transistors, lower power needs, and graphics support for 4K (4096 by 4096 pixels) display resolution. The first 4K computer and TV monitors for consumers will arrive, with a resolutions between 3840 x 2160 pixels and 4096 x 2304 and 105 and higher pixels per inch for displays up to 42-inches.

Dedicated graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD will also support 4K resolution as they switch to the 28 nanometer node.

Super computers will reach 20 Petaflops as the race to exoflop-class super computers heats up.

Apple’s iPad will continue to sell well, especially with a much higher-resolution display on the way in the spring. Amazon will see success with Kindle Fire and an in-house designed successor. Andoid tablet sales should also tick up, though Apple (at near 70%) and Amazon (most of the rest) will remain successful.

Laptops are getting much thinner and should see improved sales with the introduction of Apple Macbook Air competitors. These ultrabooks will define the industry going forward. All-in-ones like the Apple iMac will continue to be popular but the desktop is slowly dying out, replaced by tablets and ultrabooks on one end, and smart TVs at the other end. In fact, Apple’s anticipated iTV could very well be a 4KTV with Siri, gesture, and multi-touch interfaces.

Digital cameras have been in need of a shakeup and with Lytro and QuantumFilm, 2012 could finally be the year that this happens. Cameras in smartphones will benefit the most as they encroach on the 8 to 12 MegaPixel dedicated cameras.

Quad-core smartphones and tablets will be all the rage. Screen resolutions will rapidly transition to native support of 720p and 1080p video and pixels per inch exceeding 300.

Glasses will be in the news more often, but we are still a few years away from sunglasses-style heads up displays. The components are rapidly evolving though, and demonstrations of what is coming will become more frequent. The heavier form factors that exist today will gain support for 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) input resolution this year.

As for interfaces, multitouch remains in the lead, but voice, gesture, and Intelligent Agents are all rapidly improving and coming together in multimodal packages. An Apple iTV will likely demonstrate how these come together, while Microsoft will continue to improve Kinect, and bring the technology to desktops and laptops. The web itself is overdue for a face lift: watch as it becomes more dynamic and animated, especially as the ways we interact with it – multitouch, gestures, voice, and IA – improve and merge. Google will likely introduce a true Siri-competitor this year. If they don’t, then it will be clear that they completely missed this rather obvious trend, and will be hard at work on getting caught up.

Retail and marketers will rapidly deploy vast LCD screens in stores, on buildings, and as billboards during this year. Many of these will be multiple feet in reach, flexible and wrapping around various shapes and structures.

Robotics

The first “torsobots” should arrive: robots that work side-by-side with humans in factories. The form factor is a platform for arms that can do many of the same tasks as humans, yet do so safely, without putting their human co-workers in physical danger. Robots are still very slowly making their way into homes and businesses, and we are still several years away from a mass consumer-level general robotics platform. Robots will continue to be single function.

Medicine

The first $1000 genome sequencing machines will arrive, but the price will apply only when bought in bulk. Sequencing for individual genomes will still be around $5000 and not very popular with consumers, who will increasingly use SNP sequencing services like 23andMe. Next generation technologies to radically reduce the price will be in the works, but it is unlikely we will see much from them in 2012 as they finish up their development and testing.

Medical breakthroughs will continue, but so far the impact on individuals remains minimal. The media (and the mainstream consumer) will become more aware of the deficiency of our current processes as these breakthroughs languish while waiting for funding and government regulatory approvals.

Suspended animation technology is in human trials.

Fundraising for Emerging Technologies Organizations in 2012

The following emerging technology organizations are raising money for 2012. Over the past few years the amount of money being donated to these types of causes has grown exponentially, but that was starting from about zero. Now that ideas like healthy life extension, accelerating technology, Friendly AGI and the Technological Singularity have gone mainstream, there is no better time to get involved, donate, learn about, and influence the technologies set to change you and your family forever.

Kickstarter also hosts any number of interesting fundraisers for emerging technology projects like the successfully-funded BioCurious hackerspace and “The Human Project” app, hardware like the wildly successful (and still a few days left to donate!) Twine, and documentaries like the successfully-funded “The Methuselah Generation: The Science of Living Forever” and “The Synthetic Bio Documentary“.