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Trendy 2011: Tablets Up, 3D Down

Industry watchers like nothing better than to observe as trends come and go. A site that I love, The Crystal Ball Society, started by Jesse Schell, lets you record these predictions for posterity. A good thing,  since most of us will forget our own predictions  in matter of days.

Sometimes predications are a matter of WHEN not IF. As mom always says, if you wait long enough, anything can happen. So where do the next few trends fall on the predication radar screen? Beep…boop…beep…boop…

NOT ANYTIME SOON

3D – By all measures except perhaps kids’ movies in theatres, 3D has been a bust. Nintendo’s 3DS made a weak showing. Much to the dismay of the industry, very few of us are sitting in front of our TVs with glasses affixed to our noses, watching things reach out to try and touch us. Glasses-free, glasses-less, universal glasses…it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Until the ecosystem of content and delivery gets a shot of adrenaline, 3D will remain on the fringe.

The Internet of Connected Things – Lots has been written about the Internet of Things, where every appliance in your home from TVs to fridges to toasters has its own IP address and can be controlled remotely from anywhere. Smart appliances like LG’s lineup get toted out for display each year but never seem to sell particularly well. Controlling your oven remotely is a recipe for a fire drill, though new models like Connectio are on the horizon.

DOABLE

The Minority Report – There will be no more passwords, as increasingly powerful phones and sensors will store your personal biometric information, enabling machines to automatically know that YOU are YOU. Most professional laptops already have finger swipe security and many are beginning to look at face recognition.

GOING THE WRONG WAY

The Internet Connected Car – Two forces are at play against each other here: the need to be always connected and entertained at the same time, versus the need to be safe. Sadly, the entertainment part of the Internet Connected Car (Bluetooth, iPod hook ups, internet in the car) is progressing faster than many of the safety devices. Toyota Entune, BMW/Mini Connect, Audi Connect, Hyundai BlueLink, and Ford Sync AppLink are all showcasing connected entertainment systems. Onstar-like devices, drowsy alerts, and parking/vision aids are few and far between. At this year’s International CES there will be a bevy of car companies though few in the safe drivers-tech zone. Read more here.

QUIET REVOLUTIONS

Translation Engines – Like autocorrect, translating a website from one language to another was the butt of lots of internet jokes. The ability to translate a site, or an email, using free tools like Google Translate has made the world a smaller, closer place.

The Mobile Revolution – There’s no going back now: phones, tablets and new ultra books have made it possible to live the truly un-tethered life. Cloud storage, for the most part, is a pretty easy transition for  consumers used to sharing photos, music and other media from “somewhere out there”.

On the Prediction Horizon for 2012

Body-Monitoring Tech – Monitoring our vital signs from blood pressure to weight, from miles walked to heartbeats per minute will provide an increasingly accurate picture of what we’re made of. What we decide to do with all of these monitors, that’s another story. We’ll become increasingly convinced that life is a game. You’ll get points for shopping, exercising, eating well and lowering your carbon footprint – all redeemable for stuff you like. Wearable technology will become increasingly real, but lead by companies like Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and other outdoor-minded leaders. Skinner would have a field day with this stuff, but ultimately this will be the year of “a better you” because of tech.

Happy Techy New Year!

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Living in Digital Times Focuses on Technology for Life's Transitions