If youve followed technology as long as I have, youll agree that this decade has been one of the most fascinating and innovative decades since … well, since the last one, which saw the birth of the common mans Internet, Google and Microsoft Windows. Thats the beauty of the age we live in –— just when the thought we had the ride of our lives, the ride was just getting started! Now while we bid adieu to the decade past, its time to look forward. Only this time, we extend the time- honoured ritual to look far out and into the future of tech into the next decade. But first, heres how I see 2010 playing out:
The Apple tablet: Like many (every?) Apple product, this has been debated and hyped beyond need. Yet, far as I see it, I dont see Apple releasing the i-whatever until very late in 2010, simply because this is a market thats not easy to get right. Theyve long stayed away from the netbook market, and unless they can fix the problem of touchscreen text input in a path-breaking manner, I see them taking the time to do it right. Until then, Apple will nevertheless continue to play along with one heck of a pre-launch publicity campaign ever!
Smartphones a.k.a the death of the feature-phone: I recently alluded to the fact that with smartphones growing at the phenomenal pace that they are, and with feature phones often becoming reduced to one-trick ponies, mainstream users will care less about what theyre buying, as long as it is affordable and can get them on the web. Speaking of which, 3G may finally land on our shores (yes, 4G is already being discussed worldwide), and 2010 will see platforms (Android, iPhone, Symbian) to be more critical to purchase decisions than pure hardware features.
Chrome OS and the Cloud: Googles recent announcement of the Chrome OS, an operating system that works out of a browser, shows the way forward. The Cloud, your entire life residing online, is here to stay. Who knows, they may well even release a Google branded PC for mainstream users with nothing but a browser installed! Everything else — your applications, your storage — is all on the web.
All-in-Ones — the PCs last chance?: Despite all the talk about the Cloud, the PC will survive in 2010, with innovation driven by the all-in-one segment like the HP Touchsmart and the Apple iMacs. Multi-touch displays, fuelled by support in Windows 7, will drive a more engaging PC experience once more applications jump on board.
Mini-SLR cameras: If youve put off an SLR camera purchase due to the sheer bulk of what youll have to carry, try a mini-SLR next year. With the same high-quality large-sized sensors as conventional digital SLRs, these will almost have the footprint of the compacts youve carried around this year.
Blu-ray?: Blu-ray may well be the high definition standard format for now, but along the way, most of us figured out that downloading movies at home, now even available in high-definition, was just plain easier. It does not help that Blu-ray movies cost the earth, and the players still retail at stratospheric levels. Blu-ray desperately needs 2010 to see the launch of economy players and a moderation of movie title prices, if it wants to steer clear of inevitable oblivion.
Augmented reality: Augmented reality is most easily introduced via Google Goggles, an application that allows you to point your Android smartphone at a landmark or a painting, and it will search up some data on that object. In 2010, as more and more smartphones get compasses and augmented reality applications, expect to have a layer of useful data whenever you point your phone at something — be it a store (offers), a book (reviews), or a landmark (tourism data).
End of optical media: Not yet, but expect compact discs to die, followed by DVDs in due course. Already, you have music companies launching music on SD Cards and USB drives, and the future looks dark for a media that is so prone to scratches, corruption and fungus. Not to mention the space they consume!
Wireless electricity: Inductive coup-ling, which can send power through the air over a distance of up to a few inches via a magnetic field, promises to lead the way for wireless charging and then, wireless electricity! And while were on the topic of juice, I expect to see a 10-fold increase in battery life — conversely, a 10-fold drop in power consumption in cell phone and laptop batteries. That is, if cellphones and laptops continue to exist…
Shared Internet: Once Internet becomes as readily available in urban areas as electricity is, expect a sense of socialism to set in, with devices automatically sharing resources — bandwidth, computing power — as needed.
Next generation TV: TVs can only grow so big without breaking the walls, so expect TVs to innovate and differentiate by delivering further information, such as company information and recent launches when you click on a car in a TV scene. Location will no longer be important — TV will be broadcast over-the-air much like the Doordarshan of yore, except this time it will be over data networks and to a whole variety of devices, not just your current-gen TV. Holographic projection of TV into the middle of the living room, for a theatre-in-the-round experience, may also cross over from the realm of science fiction.
Disappointed that jet packs and robots didnt make the list? Whats your take on the tech that will change our lives in the next 10 years? Write in, Ill be waiting. We have time, we do.
Have a great new decade, folks!