The beginning of the year is a good time to see what new technologies, trends and products are coming and to see how many actually make it to reality. In the past we’ve discussed VoIP, cloud computing and smart phones that did arrive and made a difference. I discussed driverless cars made and used in Germany ready to go except for legal issues. While Apple products have never ceased to amaze us, few observers would have seen the bottom fall out of the personal computer market with IBM selling to Lenovo, Dell looking to go private, and HP reshuffling product lines.
From current newsletters, blogs and research papers, here are four trends for your consideration:
Trend #1: Human Browers/servers
Harry S. Dent Jr., first brought out this concept in the late 1990s when he suggested that even with the Internet, search engines, and the explosion in information, we will need human experts, more than ever, to make sense of it all. It turns out that specialists and bloggers are even more important for users to work with to sift through all the hype and reality. Amazon’s users tell us how they liked the product or service, Yelp! also rates establishments with human comments. This is particularly good news for older professionals with lots of real-world experience as their knowledge can’t be easily replaced by data bases and professionals with less time in the saddle. Older professionals who can master new media will be able to capitalize on their years of success as well as steer others clear of avoidable mistakes.
Trend #2: Breakthroughs in material science
According to trade journals and academic papers, self-cleaning and self-repairing materials will be great time and money savers. There are already cotton fabrics that will rid themselves of stains and bacteria in normal sunlight, as well as self-clean materials that can be used in patio furniture, paints and coatings for glass surfaces that will reduce or eliminate cleaning and even cars that never need to be washed! Self-sanitizing surfaces will create a major decline in hospital infections over the next 10 years.
Trend #3: Bio-Nanoprinting
Creating new life forms on demand to be delivered via the Internet. The logical next step from 3-D printing and prototyping technologies. Some experts predict that this new technology will grow into a $3 billion industry by 2018. Scientists can already create “custom organisms” via sequencing the DNA of a simple bacterium. The next step will be to send this data over the Internet. Uses could include: sending vaccine information via email to pharmacies around the world instantly and they would be able to “print” or assemble the actual vaccine at their site, much the way we can print out many copies of a letter or brochure. This would be very useful in combating bio-terrorism, only making enough vaccine when needed and not stockpiling and having to destroy doses that are not used in time, creation of personalized medicines, and the decreased costs of production, storage and distribution of these substances.
Trend #4: Ubiquitous computing
According to authors Lucas, Ballay, and McManus in their 2012 book “Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology,” as of 2012, the world produces 10 billion microprocessors per year, with most not going into computers and cellphones, but being embedded in everyday products such as microwaves, washing machines, automobiles and watches — even electric toothbrushes. The new “Internet of Things” will connect 50 billion devices, machines and objects to start off and will “quickly morph into a network of incredible power.” Some everyday samples of communicating with things: lose your car key? — send it a text message and it’ll reply with a message that will tell you its location.
The milk in your refrigerator getting funky? Your refrigerator will send you a message. Same with monitoring your health, self-driving cars, efficient metering of energy, water, etc., to get best rates and reduce waste, as well as tailor-made marketing messages (no junk mail) based upon your interests, activities and location.
These are just a few areas which are coming into maturity within the last two years or so. For more information on hot trends for investing, employment opportunities or business ventures, check out TED.COM or Google “Trends eMagazine.” Exciting times are upon us. Be well, be happy.