I’m always thinking towards the future, so I’ve thought a lot about how technology might be different in the future.Here are 10 trends I expect to see with the upcoming 10-20 years in no particular order:
- More computer/TV hybrids – Both a TV and a computer require a screen to view its contents, so why not merge both? Many people already do so by using their TV set as a monitor to their computer or using their computer and TV tuner card as a TV set. My dream concept would be an 1080p HD OLED wall mounted hybrid with all the computer components, ports, and slots on the sides or through a wireless base, webcam at the top, along with a wireless keyboard and touchpad/mouse. It ideally saves space and costs less than buying two separate machines. In fact, such a thing already exists with Medion’s X9613 all-in-one multi touch PC.
- More all-in-one portable devices – Imagine having a PMP (portable media player), cell phone, camera, GPS unit, calculator, remote control, and maybe even a thermometer all in ONE device. In fact, that’s already possible with the most ubiquitous example being the iPhone along with other fancy smartphones. These super devices offer a lot of functionality through it’s hardware and built-in apps, and extended ones with third party applications. The portability, extensive functionality, and the slickness of some of these devices make all-in-ones very keen to have. They can only get more popular as the years go by.
- Less standalone GPS units – GPS units can easily get lost, stolen, or useless when the subscription expires. There have been many cases where thieves have broken windshields to get a GPS unit. These days, GPS functionality is becoming very popular with cars having them built-in or on the user’s cell phone, so standalone GPS units are going to continue to be decline in popularity, except for the ones that are used for hiking outdoors.
- More wireless controllable devices – The simplicity of being able to control your devices on one remote, instead of having to go to each and manually activate them is very appealing. Remote controls do most things, but not everything. I can see Bluetooth equipped touchscreen phones serving as our new remote controls, rather than the standard IR soft button remotes. Bluetooth appears very more precise and fast for connection between device, and the touchscreen will make the controls more flexible and show just the buttons you need when you need them. Controlling things will be even better with home automation.
- More biometric technology – Biometric data can be very secure, and not as easy to be tampered with, as compared to just a password. More airports will use them, more computers will have biometric scanners, more government agencies will have them, etc. Perhaps there will be a super secure database of all the country’s citizens with biometric data, that will be used for verifying people’s identities for security reasons. Only limited data is shown, unless the person accessing it has biometric clearance to dig in deeper. Probably the only data most people that have these scanners will see is just a picture ID and name.
- Less use of portable physical storage mediums – Floppy disks have died, CD’s are going away with DVD’s and USB flash drives, and now simple file sharing or streaming over the Web has become the way of transferring data. Why? It doesn’t take up space, it’s less riskier to lose data, and it’s convenient. Physical hard drives will still be there of course, for backup and security reasons, but when going portable, it will be much simpler to send things over the web or through streaming. While portable USB flash drives are convenient method right now, they usually easily get lost and the data can be very crucial. I’ve lost my SanDisk flash one and haven’t been able to find it since. So I really think that transferring data through the Internet or streaming will be the trend.
- More electronic kiosks – Would you rather deal directly with an employee, or would you rather deal with an easy-to-use electronic kiosk? I’d pick the kiosk. If designed very well, kiosks should easily let you pick exactly what it is you want, exclude things you might not want (like contents of a burger or hotel package), add notes to supply additional info., and is very easy to pay through. Your order goes from the machine to the staff and they respond to it efficiently with the information you supplied, and in no time they’ve got it done. You do not have to deal with communication barriers (language, speech irregularities, etc.), scornful attitudes, and all that other stuff with direct communication. With a well designed electronic kiosk, you tell exactly what you want, pay, receive, and that’s it. I really believe that electronic kiosks are the way to go for efficiency and better service.
- Less oversaturation in particular markets – There’s got to be like a bazillion different cellphones, cameras, and computer models out there. Many often with names like the HP G60t laptops, or the Sony Ericsson W380a, or even the Canon PowerShot SD990 IS. Horrible names you’d probably never remember. Now there’s nothing wrong with choices of course; choices are great. However, flooding the market with a bunch of similar-sounding devices the have only one or two difference but a completely different name is both confusing and ultimately disliked by consumers. If a camera comes in 7 different colors, should there be 7 different model names? Not in my opinion. Consumers love it when there are choices that have clearly distinguishable features, very good ecosystem of accessories or 3rd party add-ons, and well known so it’s easy to find help or content for it. Apple has generally done a very good job of diversifying their products just enough, without making obscure variations or multiple names of pretty much the same product. Buy some generic dumbphone or an obscure PMP from some random company’s product lines or a computer model that’s hasn’t been popular and you just don’t get the same benefits.
- More paperless workspace – Paper is often inefficient at any workplace. Organizing them, sorting them, transporting them, spending money on them, and the waste they create when going to landfills instead of recycling facilities is troubling. Those among other reasons are why people will move towards paperless offices, and not having to deal with the inefficiency of paper. There will probably still be paper for important documents or archiving, but probably most things will be created and sent digitally. A paperless office or school would make working so much better to deal with, and the fact it saves trees is even better.
- Telecommuting anywhere and everywhere – As more office work is being done on computers, there is less need to physically go to the workplace to do work. You can communicate to coworkers and bosses by e-mail, IM, or videoconferencing. As long as the person is still productive wherever he/she is, I don’t really see a problem with telecommuting, though I doubt very private and important documents will ever leave the workplace, due to the risk of a stranger seeing the document on the employee’s screen. There was an article in the paper the other day about how coffee shops are becoming places to work with sometimes free WiFi, good coffee and a somewhat relaxing environment. Most owners don’t mind as long as you buy something. In fact, there’s a business in Houston, called Caroline Collective, that dedicates itself to serving independent employees who need a good office space with amenities, for a flat fee every month.
Perhaps these trends are obvious, and perhaps they might seem peculiar. That’s just the way I see things going.
What are trends that you think will happen in the the next 10 years?