Technology for 2014

We still have a month before Thanksgiving, but already the Christmas countdown posters are busy. I admit it, I did copy a posting onto Facebook about how many days until Christmas just to piss my friends off! 

Apple’s next event is this week and the rumor mill is geared up trying to parse the invite text for clues to what is coming. Not sure why people can’t just wait until the event – you just look silly predicting stuff that isn’t true year after year.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about next year – what do I hope to see with tech in 2014? 
I think there are 4 main areas that will have increasing breakthroughs:

    Mobile
    Wearable tech
    Cloud integration
    Auto tech

Mobile

I am actually surprised by some of the surveys that show how many people in the US still don’t have smartphones yet.  This Mashable survey showed the US is beaten in penetration by 12 other countries! mashable.com/2013/08/27/global-smartphone-penetration

Part of the problem is the carrier restrictions here, I know in the UK pay-as-you-go is a much more easily adopted option than a 2 year contract. Also, personally I have found people have a lot of confusion about how to add a smartphone – cost of phone + plan? which carrier plan? What does a gig of data really mean? Big disconnect between people who get it and people skimming the edges not quite sure. The carriers need to do a better job of clearly explaining it – Apple ads would be a good template instead of showing robots and lightening bolts!

So assuming the penetration increases and your Mother, Aunts and Great Uncles all get smartphones – what now? For starters texting and calling (audio or video) need to be platform agnostic. Apple could do us a favor and allow FaceTime to work to any device. Same with iMessage.

Mobile payment is just about to burst wide open – even the banks have finally woken up. PayPal has a good head start, but Amazon and Google are looking to get into the mobile payment arena too. Amazon has a built in user base and the trust of those users, so it really could Amazonize the mobile payment space! These work with your smartphone and don’t require any new hardware, unlike NFC does which requires retails to invest in new hardware.

People want their phones to become smarter – don’t just remind me I have an appointment, act more like a real personal assistant and schedule things for me. Don’t interrupt me while I am in a meeting, but if I am sitting at my desk go ahead. Understand what I am interested in and automatically alert me when those things get coverage. Let me know I should leave the office now because the traffic is backing up or the snow storm has suddenly arrived early!

Wearable Tech
This year I have had a Jawbone Up bracelet constantly attached to my wrist. It monitors my steps and my sleep, and will buzz me if I have been sitting around too long. I really like it, but I want more – and developers think other people do too! 

There are developments in the fashion industry to create clothes that light up at night, or heat up when it is cold. There are temporary tattoos that can monitor skin perspiration and even bloody sugar. Some newer fit bands can monitor heart rate, blood pressure, etc. The encryption band that means you don’t need to remember passwords, just wear it and all your tech unlocks. I also saw a band that can unlock your car.

So now we want something that ties it all together – smart clothes that heat or cool to keep your body temp optimal, body monitoring tools that proactively monitor do I need to drink more water? Am I exercising outside of my target heart rate? Do I have a health condition that should be followed up by a Doctor? Did I already take my vitamins or did I forget? Charge my smartphone when I walk in the sun, or just by swinging my arms as I walk.

I wait with great anticipation for the long rumored Apple iWatch. It is going to be tough to keep up with the latest developments and still make a package that looks sleek, sexy and still functional, but if anyone can do it, Apple can! A point for designers to note, women don’t want to walk around with a brick on our wrists! And nobody wants 10 different devices on each arm either.

Cloud Integration

The internet of things is about to really take off, with devices around the home hooking up to the internet for control and reporting. The Nest thermostat is proving popular and they now have the smart smoke alarm. There are devices to make keyless home entry from your smartphone allowing you to set temporary pass codes for cleaners or the dog walker. No need to worry if you forgot to lock up the house. Put motion detectors and cameras around the yard to check for unusual activity and get an alert directly on your phone no matter where you are in the world. 

New technology is coming out of development that creates wifi networks from light bulbs – which are faster then your current router! Turn on your refridgerator and never run out of milk again. Hook this into an app on your phone and get an alert as you get close to the supermarket with reminders of what needs to be replenished.

Then there is the dream of the smart menu – what’s for dinner tonight? An app can suggest based on what is in the house and what could be made by picking up a few other items. If you scan your receipt (or ideally, use your supermarket smart cart) everything you have bought will be tracked. Or maybe you are already at the supermarket and stuck for ideas – scan some products on your phone, like chicken, and get menu suggestions with a shopping list right in your hand.

Mobile coupons are another opportunity waiting to be exploited more fully. Get pop-up coupons on your phone as you pass stores. Those reward card accounts you have – stores are tracking them and can tell how valuable a customer you are and customize coupons based on this. 

In the enterprise zone, more companies are realizing that developing a light front end app rather than an installable program is more cost effective and makes for quicker and easier updates and changes. SalesForce.com has really taken a lead in the arena and are showing other companies how this technology can be exploited. Enterprise buyers are more influenced by consumer technology now and are quite comfortable with adding apps to larger applications to solve different problems. Why buy a large manufacting software package if you can just add an app into your SF.com implementation that enables shipment tracking and receipts?

Auto Tech

Car manufactures have been feeling the pressure from consumers to make the car more integrated with smart devices and safety functions. Googles driverless car is going to be a major change for society with both positive and some negative implication – depending in which side of the equation you fall. Self driving cars will open the world for disabled and impaired drivers – especially with people living longer, with mobility needs, but maybe not quite the same unimpaired faculties as when they were younger. This will make the roads safer for everyone.If however, you make a living as a taxi driver or trucker then you might not be so happy about this change! 

Zip car allows people to hire a car only when they need it, but imagine if you have driverless cars available at your beck and call … why even buy a car of your own if there are fleets around just waiting for the next request? No need to worry about mandatory rest breaks or shift switches when there is a computer in charge.

And as the car gets smarter it will be able to monitor its own health. Get a reminder on your phone when the oil needs to be changed or if something else is needed. Safety features are becoming increasingly common and not just in the high end models. Automatic breaking in anticipation of an accident! I have to say my rebel side thinks it would be funny to prank these cars by blowing through a red light as everyone else automatically breaks… but I digress!

I saw a steering wheel cover that can monitor your heart rate and play soothing music as you get more likely to engage in some road rage! While we are waiting for the driverless car, diver monitoring systems would help everyone – too tired? Bit drunk? Not paying attention? Alert the driver or at least alert the drivers around them!

Conclusion

These are some of the major areas of tech that I am both looking forward to and excited about. Maybe not all will be quite possible in 2014, but as someone pointed out – marketing has changed more in the last 2 years then the last 30 years! Technology innovation is increasing as we all live in a more connected world where your idea can be shared among unbelievable amounts of people with one click of a button. The synergy of a connected world leads to faster and better innovation.

What are you looking forward to? Are you worried about anything?

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One response to “Technology for 2014

  1. For those interested in learning the latest on wearable technology, there is an event coming up next November 7 in New York City. Wearable Computing Conference 2013 New York City (http://www.wearable-computing-conference.com) will show how next-generation technology is revolutionizing the human experience… People from Goldman Sachs, BioSensics, Sony, Hitachi, Apple, Kinetic Body Lab, HTC, Fingent, and many more leading companies will be in attendance. To reserve your seat, visit http://wearablecompcon.eventbrite.com.

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