As the year comes to an end we all must put aside the frustrations of shopping, the stress of visiting family, and really try our hardest not to spike grandma’s eggnog. “Isn’t that what Christmas is all about” you say? “No!” Christmas is about giving awesome techy gifts to one another, and returning ugly sweaters. So as many of us already finished shopping for this year, (those who haven’t I wish you the best of luck out there) we have started to think about what cool gifts and trends are going to appear next year. What features will I be looking for in a good smartphone in 2013? What will make the best gifts? What will I be posting about 365 days from now?
Smarter Smart Phones – Phones will start to predict what we need and open apps for us before we need them, based on time of day, location, or other factors. This includes more human like interaction from our smartphones, them asking us what we need from them, more intuitive conversation, and perhaps even personality.
Invisible Apps – Applications that do everything you need but don’t get in the way. Less alerts, less required by the user. These tie in with smarter phones (apps that launch for you).
Better Voice and Facial Recognition – Voice to text works – just okay. I think next year we will see some huge improvements in voice recognition and perhaps even facial recognition. Whether it is through games, phones, or biomedical engineering, I think we will have devices that will be able to detect emotion and stress by facial patterns and eye movements. Doctors will use them to help diagnose patients from outside the office; games will be able to see how stressed or scared you are from a webcam, and business applications will be able to give you on the fly predictions on how the client is taking your presentation.
Electronic Wallets – I forget my wallet a lot, but I never forget my phone. If I do, I go back to get it. I can’t function without it most times. Imagine not having to carry a wallet at all, but having your debit and credit information carried in your phone securely. That’s what Google Wallet is trying to accomplish, allowing you to put your cards into your phone, password protect them, and use them at the store using NFC technology. If you lose your phone you can remotely disable the wallet from your Google account.
The Limit of Physical Media – Cd’s, DVD’s, and even Flash Drives are slowly going the way of the Floppy disk. Every day cloud storage becomes easier and cheaper to use. More services are popping up for online transfer of files; even Gmail integrated Google Drive into their email allowing 10Gb file transfers. With faster internet connections coming to more homes, and streaming services becoming more popular, we will see less physical media in the next year.
Increase in Digital Distribution – Almost a repeat of the last one, but important to mention still. Less physical media means an increase in digital distribution. We aren’t talking file transfers from your laptop to your desktop, but from a store to you. Services like Steam and Origin allow gamers to purchase games online and download them directly to their account, without the hassle of going to the store. Movie and TV streaming services like Hulu Plus and Netflix have also eliminated the need of Brick and Mortar stores for the majority of us. The only enemy of these services seems to be bandwidth caps set by ISP giants like AT&T, Comcast, and Time-Warner.
Visual Enhancements – I wrote about these in my last post, and it made me all giddy with excited. Electronics visual aids ranging from Google Glasses that will show your messages from your phone and takes video and pictures for you, to Megapixel Augmented Contact Lenses that can focus on objects far away or tiny objects up close. We will also see upgrades in the gaming world with 3D VR headsets that we never thought would be possible.
Printing Objects – 3D printing is a neat tool for engineers and few enthusiasts at the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it show up at a consumer level next year. If you needed a plastic item, whether it be a screw or a new drawer handle, you could download a schematic from a community forum and print it. I can’t imagine the device or materials would be cheap, but a man can dream.
What items and improvements do you see coming out in the next year? Let us know in the comments!