Tech Preview 2013

I’ve been champing at the bit to write this post. A new year, a sunny day! I read something somewhere about how futurists got the whole prediction game wrong. Rather than trying to describe the new and exciting things that would be showing up in oh so many years in the future, they should be describing what would be removed from our current context. With that in mind, here are some short to medium term predictions.

More wires will be removed from our environment. The keyboard and mouse wires will be gone, replaced by wireless, bluetooth, or otherwise. The ubiquitous s-video, and various component audio/video cables will disappear. They’ll be replaced with a single wire in the form of hdmi, or they’ll disappear altogether, being replaced by wireless audio/video transmission.

The “desktop Computer” will disappear. Basic “airplay” capability will be baked into monitors of all stripes, so that the compute component of anyone’s environment will consist of nothing more than a little computicle, combined with whatever input devices the user so happens to need for their particular task. “Touch” sensors, such as the Leap Motion, will find their way into more interesting and interactive input activities.

Power Consumption related to computing will continue to shrink. Since cell phones seem to be the focus of current compute innovation, this genre will drive the compute world. With the likes of the Raspberry Pi, and the Odroid-U2 becoming popular forms of System on Chip compute platforms, the raw requirements for a compute experience will be reduced from 80watts to about 5 watts.

A bit longer term…

Drivers will be removed from the driving experience. With BMW, Google, and others experimenting with driverless vehicles, this will eventually become the preferred method of transportation. Particularly with an aging population in places, it will likely be safer to have seniors driven around in nice Prius like pods, rather than having them drive themselves.

“Data Centers” will become irrelevant. This is a bit of a stretch, but the thinking goes like this. A Data Center is a concentration of communications, power consumption, compute capability, and ultimately data storage. They are essentially the Timesharing/mainframe model of 50 years back done up in large centralized format. Why would I use a data center though. If I had fast internet (100 Mbps or better) to my home/business, would I need a data center? If I have enough compute power in my home, in the form of 3 or 4 communications servers, do I need a data center? If I have 16Tb of storage sitting under my desk at home, do I need a data center? In short, if I eliminate the redundancy, uptime guarantees, etc, that a data center gives me, I can probably supply the same from my home/small business, at an equally affordable cost. As compute and storage costs continue to decrease, and power consumption of my devices goes with them, the tipping point for data center value will change, and doing it from home will become more appealing.

Trending… breaking from the “things that will be removed”, and applying a more traditional “what will come” filter…

“Data” will become less important as “Connections” becomes more important. In recent years, blogs were interesting, then tweeting, the micro form of the blog, became more interesting. At the same time, Facebook started to emerge, which is kind of like a stretched out tweet/blog. Now along comes Pinterest. And in the background, there’s been Google. Pinterest represents a new form of communication. Gone are the words, replaced by connections. I can infer that I’ll be interested in something you’ll be interested in by seeing how many times I’ve liked other things that you’ve been interested in. If I’m an advertiser, tracking down the most pinned people, and following what they’re pinning is probably a better indicator of relevance than anything Google or Facebook have to offer. The connections are more important than any data you can actually read. In fact, you probably won’t read much, you’ll look at pictures, and tiny captions, and possibly follow some links. If there’s a prediction here, it is that the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter, will be fallen by the likes of Pinterest and others who are driving in the “graph” space.

3D Printing. As this year will see the likely emergence of the FormsLab printer, as well as continued evolution of the ABS and PLA based printers, content for these printers will become more interesting. The price point for the printers will continue to hover around $1500, for the truly “plug and play” variety, as opposed to the DIY variety.

For 3D content design, the Raspberry Pi, and ODroid-U2, will be combined with the LeapMotion input device to create truly spectacular and easy to use 3D design tools, for less than $200 for a hardware/software combination.

As computicles become cheaper, the premium for software will continue to decrease. There will be a consolidation of the hard/software offering. When a decent computicle costs $35 (Raspberry Pi), then it’s hard to justify software costing any more than $5. If you’re a software manufacturer, you will consider creating packages that include both the hardware and software in order to get any sort of premium.

Ubiquitous computicles will see the emergence of a new hardware “hub”. Basically a wifi connected device that attaches to various peripherals such as the LeapMotion, a Kinect, a HDMI based screen. It will managed the various interactive inputs from the various other computicles located within the home/office. Rather than being a primary compute device itself, it will act as a coordinator of many devices in a given environment.

That’s about it for this year. No doom and gloom zombie scenarios as far as I can see. Some esoteric trending on many fronts, some empire breaking trends, some evolution of technologies which will make our lives a little easier to live.

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