Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Technologies to bet on


Given that it is the time of year to be making predictions I thought I’d get into the swing and have a look a three technologies that I reckon are going to be big. Maybe not this year but soon.

Voice recognition

We have all seen the Apple Siri ads and for those of you who have iPhones you know that the technology doesn’t always live up to that but going forward I believe we are going to see more and more devices accept voice commands.

It really makes a lot of sense when you start thinking about it. Imagine if all car GPS units could understand voice navigation commands (some already do). Imagine telling your PC to turn on and read you your emails. Imagine being able to cut and paste text without touching a mouse.

I don’t see touch and mice disappearing but I see voice becoming a much greater part of the way we communicate with our devices. It is how we communicate with each other and the technology is getting fast and smart enough now to be able to understand more and more of what we say.

As the power of devices increases (especially mobiles) I think we going to see the of voice greatly increase. Roll on Star Trek communicators.

Augmented reality

People scoff at the Google Project Glass but if you read Daemon and Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez then you begin to get an insight into what maybe possible.

Basically, imagine that instead of a mobile phone you don a pair of glasses. These glasses provide you with a head up display of the world around you. It provides you with additional information about the things around you. For example, when you meet someone new you automatically see their name above their head. With a few gestures you can see their resume or other pertinent information. Imagine if you had to repair your car, simply by looking at it through these glasses. You’d not only automatically see all the diagnostic information but also step by step instructions on how to repair it. In short imagine it like having a transparent web browser in front of you at all times.

There are already a few apps around on devices that allow you to experience this One of most interesting is a real estate app where you hold up the device in a street and it recognizes each property based on its location and appearance and provides all sorts of information like sale history, rates, value, etc, etc.

To get a good idea of what is possible (and enjoy a good story) I strongly recommend you read Daniel Suarez’s books.

Robotics

Computer are REALLY good at doing repetitive jobs. Automation is what computers are all about, the problem has been the mechanics. Little by little however we are seeing robots take over jobs that humans used to do.

The greatest example of this at the moment is the military and it use of unmanned drone such as the Predator. Such aerial devices now regularly carry out not only reconnaissance but also combat missions. They are piloted remotely from within the United States while being active just about anywhere on the planet (but mainly in the Middle East).

That stuff is only for the military I hear you say. Ok, so tell me what sort of present was probably the most popular this festive season? The remote controlled drone and helicopter, most with a mounted video camera. Now imagine similar drones to what the military currently have but to monitor traffic conditions or speeding drivers, perform search and rescue (by day and by night). I think you can see that the list goes on and that is just one example of the growth in robotics.

Most people think of robots like Rosie from the Jetsons or R2-D2. These are probably a ways off yet but don’t underestimate how our use of robots is growing and how much more intelligent they are becoming each and everyday.