Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a wild ride. In considering the changes we’ve seen in technology over the past year, I’m bracing myself for unprecedented growth when it comes to anytime, anywhere, on-demand information and entertainment.
Based on the trends we’ve seen so far in 2013, I predict 2014 will see many fledgling technologies mature and grow beyond what we could have imagined just a few years ago.
So without further ado, here are my top 7 predictions for technology trends that will dominate 2014.
1. Consumers will come to expect Smart TV capabilities
With Smart TV shipments expected to reach 123 million in 2014 – up from about 84 million in 2012 – we are poised to see explosive growth in this industry.
In the midst of this growth, we will continue to see fierce competition between major players like Samsung, Panasonic, and LG. Prices will need to continue to drop, as more consumers crave, and even expect, the ability to use Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and their web browser via their TV.
Of course, the development we’re all waiting for in 2014 is the release of Apple’s much anticipated iTV. It appears the iTV is now in the early development stage, and that Apple may be in the process of making a deal with Time Warner to facilitate programming on Apple devices.
The device is rumoured to include iCloud sync, the ability to control your iPhone, and ultra HD LCD panels. Keep an eye out for this release as early as summer 2014.
2. Smart watches will become ‘smarter’
Rather than having to pull out your smartphone or tablet for frequent email, text and social media updates, you’ll glance at your watch.
2014 is the year to keep an eye out for the Google watch. Rumor has it the device will integrate with Google Now, which aims to seamlessly provide relevant information when and where you want it (and before you’d asked for it).
We’ll see smart watches become even smarter, learning what news and updates are important to us, when we want to receive them, and responding more accurately to voice controls.
For smart watches to succeed, they’ll need to offer us something that our smart phone can’t; whether this means more intuitive notifications, or the ability to learn from our daily activities and behaviours (for instance, heart rate monitoring), it will be interesting to see.
3. Google Glass will still be in “wait and see” mode
While Google Glass hasn’t yet been released to the general public, we’ve heard enough about it to know it’s still very early days for this technology. With an estimated 60,000 units expected to sell in 2013, and a predicted several million in 2014, it’s still a long way from becoming a common household technology.
These augmented reality glasses allow you to access information like email and texts, take hands-free pictures and videos, effortlessly translate your voice, and even receive overlaid walking, cycling or driving directions, right within your field of vision.
It’s predicted that both Google Glass 2.0, and its companion, the Glass App Store, should be released to the general public sometime in 2014.
Be on the lookout for competition in this market, particularly from major players like Samsung. I predict we’ll see much of this competition aimed at niche markets like sports and healthcare.
4. Other applications and uses for Apple’s TouchID will emerge
The release of the iPhone 5S has, for the first time, made on-the-go fingerprint security a reality. The potential for Touch ID technology to really take off is, I believe, an inevitable reality. Touch ID, which uses a high-resolution camera to scan your fingerprint, allows convenient ultra-security for your iPhone.
Currently, the technology is limited; the only real uses are unlocking your iPhone, and making purchases in the App store. I predict that we’ll see this technology incorporated into other Apple products soon. I think we’ll even see TouchId integrated into MacBook products later this year or next.
I also predict TouchID, though not quite bug-free, will be used for other purposes, such as to securely integrate with home security systems, access password software, and even pay for groceries (more on that in an upcoming article).
5. Xbox One and PS4 will blur the lines between entertainment and video gaming
The new gaming consoles (Xbox One and PS4) will increasingly integrate social media-like connectivity between players. Players could have followers, work together to achieve in-game goals, and new technology will allow for equally-skilled players to compete.
The PS4, slated to be released November 15th, will track both the controller and the player’s face and movements for more intuitive play.
Apart from great gaming, these systems will allow for a far more integrative entertainment experience. For instance, rather than switching between TV, gaming, music and sports, you’ll be able to do two or even three activities side-by-side, or by easily switching back and forth.
6. 3D Printing will begin to revolutionize production
We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of 3D printing this year, coupled with a dramatic fall in pricing. The ability to easily create multi-layered products that are actually usable – well, that’s pretty amazing.
I’ll be watching for a movement towards simple products being produced close to home, and to greater customization given the ease of manufacturing. I think it’s inevitable that manufacturing in countries such as China will become less appealing and lucrative for businesses given the high costs of shipping and managing overseas contracts.
I don’t expect these changes to reach their full effect in 2014, however I believe businesses will be starting to consider how this will affect their production plans for 2015 and beyond.
7. The movement towards natural language search will make search more accurate and intuitive
There was a time when we used terms like “personal digital assistant” to describe a hand-held calendar. Oh, how times have changed.
With the emergence of intelligent personal assistants like Google Now and Apple’s Siri, the goal is to have information intuitively delivered to you, often before you even ask for it. The shift seems to be away from having to actively request data, and instead to have it passively delivered to your device.
Natural language search will continue to overtake keyword-based search, as seen by Google’s move towards longer, more natural searches in its recent release of Hummingbird, Google’s largest algorithm update thus far.