Back when computers took up a whole room, the things we take for granted now were the stuff of science fiction. Today, technology changes at such a rapid pace that it can be hard to keep up. Staying on top of the trends can be dizzying, but here are some areas to watch this year:
- Data Privacy is a big issue. In the wake of some pretty disastrous security breaches, consumers are understandably paranoid. As people begin to pay more attention to their digital footprints, successful companies will be the ones who jump on the privacy bandwagon. New measures are being taken to protect privacy—especially for children, digital privacy services let users control how much of their information is accessible, and IT systems are beginning to be created with privacy embedded into the design.
- No-Touch Interfaces use existing pattern recognition technology to create something fundamentally unique. We’ve gone from keyboards and mouses to touchscreens and texting, with each new generation of technology requiring us to develop new skills. With no-touch interfaces like Microsoft Kinect, Apple’s Siri, or Google Glass, the technology is beginning to adapt to us instead of us having to adapt to our computers. It’s not unreasonable, in fact, to expect computer interfaces to become more and more “human” over the next decade or two.
- 3-D Printing might just change the world as we know it. This technology has been in existence since the 1980s, but it’s just starting to come into its own. Today’s 3D printers make a variety of objects through the use of a laser of extruder that can build an object, layer by layer, into three dimensions. Imagine the ramifications! Mechanics and entrepreneurs can print their own parts, components, and prototypes, customized to their specifications. Want to know something that seems even more like futuristic science fiction? One day, medical companies may be able to use 3D printing to create organic organs for transplant recipients.
- Wearable Technology puts your data where you need it. Do you have a Fitbit? Do you crave Google Glass? We’re used to having data at our fingertips whenever we want to access it, but what if your fingertips aren’t close enough for you? Wearable technology offers information as close as your goggles, wristwatch, hoodie, or ring. In fact, there are even snow skiing goggles meant to show the skier speed, altitude, and vertical descent, while plotting the position on a resort map, playing music, communication with others, and even taking photos.
- Online Video Streaming’s impact is a big topic of conversation. Will it kill cable? What’s its impact on movie theaters? Even more intriguing, what’s its impact on the environment? The answers to those questions are, in order: maybe, probably, and about the same as or a little bit less than renting a DVD. Why is online streaming so popular? People enjoy the convenience of being able to watch movies and television wherever they are, whether on their television screen at home, or on a computer or mobile device, anywhere they choose. And while there has been speculation that streaming entertainment will be less energy intensive than manufacturing and transporting DVDs, a recent study indicates that, while the value is slightly better with streaming over driving to a video store, the comparison with mailed DVDs is basically equivalent.
All of this new technology is interesting for a consumer, of course, but it’s a particularly exciting time to be an entrepreneur. Whether it’s building a more secure data system, coming up with the next big app, figuring out how to reduce the energy output needed for all these gadgets, or finding some other, never-before-imagined niche, the sky is the limit for those with an active imagination and the power to bring their ideas to fruition. The next big technological leap may be in one of the areas we’ve discussed here, or it may be something no one’s dreamed of…yet.
Are you a Georgia Tech student with an idea for a startup? Or are you interested in commercializing your research? Connect with VentureLab Principal Colin Ake: https://calendly.com/colinake