We hoped for many things in 2013. We were promised these by tech companies, by journalists (oops), by advertisers. Did we get them? Hell no. Where's the 3DTV in our living room? Why aren’t we 3D printing clothes at home? Why on earth are we still having to fly to Los Angeles from NYC, where id s Elon Musk’s magnetic levitation train? God knows.
Still, we have hope, we have faith, we have wallets.
Technology will continue to change our lives, and we look forward to 2014, a year of immense scientific discovery, technovation and stuff we can ever afford.
Here’s the top five technology predictions for 2014 of things that will realistically happen in the tech world.
3D printing food will become commonplace…but you still won’t be able to afford it
This year 3D printing food became a bit closer to reality. We were already used to 3D printed fashion and had been impressed with the variety of designers out there offering this to us, but food was still a long way away. Sure, we knew that Google 3D printed pasta at their Mountain View cafeteria, but how did that apply to regular folk? However, this year we had NASA announce they would 3D print pizzas in space and saw the launch of Foodini, a prototype 3D food printer that can be used to make multiple things such as ravioli and chocolate.
Downsides are that it prints one ingredient at a time (boo) but it’s miles above previous 3D food printer prototypes which had complicated parameters about what they could and couldn't make. This isn’t going to be mass produced anytime soon, but as the 3D printer movement got so HUGE over the last year, with hundreds of brands now in the space (MakerBot, ForrmLabs etc.) the cost had lowered so much that you can buy a basic 3D printer for $500.
“With 3D printing food we already have factories and machine parts in place,” said Marcelo Coelho, a research affiliate at MIT who designed a 3D printing chocolate machine called the Cornucopia at MIT as part of his graduate project and who gave a talk on Digital Gastronomy to Microsoft last year. “The challenge is to take a machine used in a factory and enable it to be used in a kitchen, hundreds of ingredients to manufacture.”
Expect to see a resurgence in 3D printed food appliances and associated “food materials” all over the media and Kickstarter. Just don't expect to be able to afford one…yet.
Driverless cars will start to become normal…in Asia
The idea of a driverless car is both terrifying and wonderful. Hands free time to check emails, do makeup, sleep…who wouldn’t want that? But then you have the ear that you’re leaving your safety to machines, and death is not on anyone's wish list. We know that Google are working on driverless car projects we have seen it be more accepted as potentially “mainstream” and publicly it’s getting acceptance, in laws anyway.
In 2011 a law passed to allow people to operate a “driverless” car in Nevada, and in April 2012 Florida joined the family, followed by California in September 2012. Sure, it’s 2013 and these cars a long way from making it to the roads, but manufacturers are all working on their own models. Seriously. Volkswagen, Ford, Tesla, BMW, Honda and more are working hard so it will be battle for the first mainstream vehicle. Which we might see in 2014.
So why will they become normal in Asia? Let’s leave aside different standards of safety practices and look at how quickly Asia adopts new tech trends. They had 4G and TV on their phones years before us, they’re known for their super fast internet speeds and their high tech society and they’re also HOME to many of the manufacturing plants. Ergo, we might see some on the roads there over the next year, way before they become standard in the U.S.
We Will all be using wearables…and realize we already were
Wearable Technology is a big buzzword lately. The idea that you can wear products that are “connected”, using smart glasses to navigate around the world, watches that tell you your heart rate and the speed of your car and clothing that changes color depending on your mood. We will see more and more of this surface.. and everyone is going to come to the realization that we ALL ALREADY use Wearable Technology.
We carry phones with accelerometers which register whether we sit or stand. We have watches that tell the time and plug in heart rate monitors at the gym. We may be lacking clothing that tells people is you’re horny/shy but honestly, no one want to do that anyway. We will all continue using “wearable technology” that we already were, but we might get a couple of exciting add ons such as Google Glasses and their clones. We will also see smart tech integrated into everyday items, such as NFC readers in rings so you can unlock your door with a wave. The people who make these aren’t generally trying to be “out there” they are looking for a way to make everyday life easier.
“I don't think much about the wider wearable world if I'm honest,” said John McLear, creator of the NFC ring. “I'm not out to change the wearable world, I'm out to change the jewelry and door lock industry. It needs to be aligned closer to practical functionality as to prove a better value case for consumers and also for the environment.” He said that the cost of replacing lost keys can be very expensive, and are at high risk of being lost.
We will start to get Amazon Kindles for free. Yes, free
Since Amazon started selling Kindles the prices have dropped dramatically. A brand new model cost $400 then, and now you can get it - when on sale - for around $50. Amazon's strategy is smart, they know it’s not the Kindle itself that's attractive to people but the books it holds, the many digital files that cost a lot, are not easily transferable and which are repurposed a lot. That's the real market and Amazon, as a company that's incredibly savvy could well be on their way to giving the Kindle away. Already they offer a Kindle first program which gives you access to books before they are officially launched and programs for schools which offer Kindles at a reduced rate with free “Whispercast” software that lets teachers send the same book to all her class. Get them while they are young right, and you get loyal customers for life… maybe. With prices dropping on competitors, Amazon would be smart to give away Kindles for free; for every new Dan Brown ebook you get a free Kindle? I see this happening this year. Naturally, the more techie models will have an “upgrade cost.”
Google Glasses will have 100 clones BUT you will still look foolish
Google Glasses have been a big buzzword the last year. Everybody talks about them. Everyone wants one. They’re constantly in the media, whether it’s women getting charged for using Glasses while driving or men being thrown out of restrooms where they were being inappropriate. But unless you’re in the coveted circle of developers you will find it REALLY hard to get one.
And if you could get one, they cost a LOT, like, $1,500. In 2014 the price will come down a LOT, but you will also see a number of clones offering similar services at a much lower cost. Examples would be the Vuzix M100, $999, which offers you connectivity, a camera and more, the ORA-S sports goggle, $949, which is equipped with GPS, messaging etc, and the Recon Jet at $600 which gives you basically all of the above apart from a camera. No doubt many MANY more devices will be released in 2014, and we would make a good guess that the costs will drop significantly. You will still look like a twat though.