Technology Trends in the upcoming 10 years

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Less standalone GPS unitsGPS 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.
  4. 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.
  5. More biometric technologyBiometric 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. More paperless workspacePaper 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.
  10. 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?

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Zunes flash players to die

Just as I presumed, Microsoft will do away with the flash-based Zunes that are currently being sold.

It’s disappointing, but pretty logical I guess. The Zune probably hasn’t been making much of a profit in that division, so they’re banking all their resources on the upcoming Zune HD, and not bothering with the other Zune device for awhile, by ‘discontinuing’ them. I’m guessing that if the Zune HD is actually successful as Microsoft hopes it to be, then the non-touch Zunes will pop back up with a hardware refresh and Zunes of all types will exist again.

However, if the Zune HD does awful, then I have a feeling Microsoft isn’t going to bother with Zune anymore. They’ll disband it, and say sorry to people that invested in it, and move on. I really hope not though.

Why should the non-touch flash Zunes still exist? Because:

  • Not everyone needs a touchscreen player – I know some guys that like the tactile feel of the dpad/Zune Squircle on their device, and touchscreens on devices often cost higher. Also, they may worry if the screen gets damaged, they might not be able to use their Zune
  • People want higher storage capacities – The Zune HD capped at 32GB maximum is not enough for them. They need more. Now personally, I don’t see any point in dropping your whole media library in one device just for the sake of ‘convenience’, but that’s what some guys evidently want. A Zune HD with 120GB will be hard to make with the capacitive screens, and it’s going to cost so much more.
  • Microsoft needs a PMP for the lower end of the market – There will be many people that can’t afford something as nice and juicy as the Zune HD, so the Zune 4 and Zune 8 are good matches for them. They’ll probably splurge on Zune accessories when they scrounge up enough cash, and maybe consider buying Zune content on Marketplace. The thing is, instead of buying the generic (and awful) iPod Shuffle and Nano, they’ll have a greater choice if the Zune 4 and 8 are around.

Those are the main reasons, and I think Microsoft should have a presence in all the major areas of the PMP market. Dropping everything to the Zune HD makes me worried how successful this will be.

Do you use a Zune? What do you think of Microsoft discontinuing the non-touch flash players?