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Mashable’s Rick Chin recently wrote an article on the 8 Current Technologies That Will Shape Our Future. While prediction based articles are sensational to the average tech dreamer like me, this article was different. No flying cars or holodecks. Rick’s predictions are more likeĀ  feature improvements of current technologies, which makes them more likely to actually happen. The technologies outlined were:

  1. Smartphones
  2. 3G and 4G Wireless Broadband
  3. Cloud Computing
  4. Eye-Tracking / Voice Commands
  5. Augmented Reality
  6. Social Networking
  7. CAD, 3D Printing & Custom Products
  8. Autonomous Cars

Now all these features are in real world existence and use today. Some are more expensive than others. But I have to disagree with one major point regarding Rick’s prediction…his timetable. Rick sets the date of 2031 to see these advances affordable and in popular use. I think he’s dead wrong. I think we’re going to see them within the next 10 years (2021).

Intel recently announced that in partnership with 3M they have created a heat dissipating glue that can be used to stack computer processors on top of each other, thereby making today’s fastest processor 1000 times faster. Rolled out in servers around 2013, we should see them in consumer devices around 2015. Why would we need to process so much data? If we stop looking at physical data like videos as largest draw of processing power and look at the burgeoning Long Tail of data, there is going to be a massive increase in automated information filtering in order to process the massive amount of information available and marketed to us. As Rick points out with Smartphones, they will become PCM’s, or Personal Mobile Computers, worn like a watch. These PCM’s will be Grand Central for managing the information flow of our daily future lives.

Combined with cloud based data, fast wireless access everywhere (think 10G..which is just a marketing term for whatever is fast), and HUD type displays, complex information processing will become rapidly easier.

Think this is all wishy washy tech talk? Here’s two innovations that are currently in production and examples of what’s to come:

First up, the HUD (Head’s Up Display). These will glasses, goggles, or even contacts that allow digital information to be processed and seen in real time. Recon Instruments manufactures HUD style snowboarding goggles that show altitude, GPS, speed, vertical, total distance odometers, run-counter, temperature, stopwatch/chrono mode, and a world clock. So popular….you can’t even buy them. Recon can’t manufacture them fast enough. Take this idea a step further by introducing the Cloud and you have Ski Resorts that setup Sonic the Hedgehog style ski-runs with achievements you hit for points (eg, rings to pass through, jumps to navigate, etc). Combine social media and you’re publishing your results to compete against your friends. You still only get 1 life though… if you hit a tree there’s no starting that level again.

On to the PCM. Italian watch maker I’m Watch has already created an Android based smart-watch that receives text messages, dials phone numbers, and plays music while connected to your Android phone over Bluetooth. Give it time and the watch will be the phone. For about $310 USD, anyone in the market for a watch can buy one. Or if you have some serious cash, $19,000 USD will land you the White Gold version with Diamonds.

So 20 years? Based upon how far technology has come since 1991, we can easily half that estimate based upon the price point and availability of current technologies like Android and various API’s. The future is closer then we think…and it sure looks exciting!

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