The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month is the first glimpse at trends in technology to watch out for this year. Dean Evans picks out the key innovations to look out for.
Key technology trends always emerge at CES – you just need to know where to look.
For 2014, wearable computing will be one to watch. Wristband fitness/activity trackers like the Nike FuelBand and JawBone UP appeared last year, with built-in sensors to monitor your activity, heart rate and sleep patterns. The Lumo Lift even incorporates a posture alarm, alerting you if you slouch when you sit or stand.
Wearable technology development continues apace
A new breed of wearables – including the LG Lifeband Touch, Garmin Vivofit and Sony Core – will do more, syncing with your smartphone via Bluetooth to alert you to text messages, emails and phone calls. Intel unveiled a smart Bluetooth headset called Jarvis, which pairs Siri-style virtual assistant software with a smartphone to look up directions and read your email.
The evolution of high definition displays shows no sign of stopping either, with manufacturers keen to switch us over to Ultra HD hardware. Ultra HD, also known as UHD, defines a 4K standard (four times the resolution of current 1080p HD) and a future 8K format (16 times the resolution of 1080p HD).
In the future, flat screens might also be replaced by curved displays. These, claim manufacturers like LG and Samsung, increase the immersive experience. But the idea feels suspiciously like a gimmick, designed to flog new TVs and monitors that nobody needs.
More powerful smartphones are on the way
The year ahead will also give us more powerful smartphones, better laptops and larger-screened ‘pro’ tablets. But for more useful technological advances, you need to look beyond gadgetry that is simply bigger, faster, thinner or smaller than the gizmos that came before them.
You need to appreciate the potential of Intel’s Edison – a fully-functional Pentium PC that’s as small as an SD memory card. Or Google’s attempts to get Android devices integrated into future car models, giving commuters the ability to conduct hands-free voice searches (via the excellent Google Now) as they drive.
The way we interact with our computers is changing
The way we interact with our computers could be one of the most important changes. As processing power increases, voice commands will become more accurate and easier to use; while Kinect-style 3D cameras will interpret gestures rather than mouse clicks, or be capable of tracking eye movements and automatically scrolling your documents accordingly.
Digital collaboration to become more common
Beyond the next generation of gadgetry, confidence in cloud computing and online applications will continue to grow. As a consequence of working online, digital collaboration will become more commonplace (and more effective), while the combination of powerful portable devices and fast LTE mobile data will kill off the daily commute for some office workers.
We’ll also see more Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives this year, as companies allow employees to use their own computers, tablets and phones rather than forcing outdated IT solutions on them. Obviously this will throw up extra security concerns, but the long-term cost and productivity benefits will be worth it.
For more tips, trends and advice on technology related topics, read Dean’s other posts on AAT Comment.
Dean Evans is Editorial Director at That Media Thing Ltd.