At the start of every new year, there is always a great deal written about what industry experts and writers alike; expect to be the ‘top’ trends for that year. What will be the next big thing? Everyone tries to predict it, and few people often get it exactly right.
Technological advances such as 3-D printing and augmented reality equipment are certainly not new, but they are rapidly dropping in price. This means that they are becoming more readily available to consumers and businesses alike. 3-D Printing in particular, has existed in some form or another for almost twenty years. It is only now, that the prospect a 3-D printer in the small business setting is becoming a realistic prospect.
Augmented reality has often been seen in science fiction and whilst many of us will have grown up with the thought of being able to pull-up information in front of our eyes simply though the use of a voice command, as well as being able to make phone calls and take pictures using our watches as being some far away fantasy. The fact that in 2014 both of these are becoming possible is both an exciting and frightening prospect.
The prospect of augmented reality becoming something that you can literally carry around in the form of glasses is indicative of the increasing trend towards ‘joined-up’ technology. Rather than there being distinctive devices which all have their own specific purpose, it seems that every device can now do what every other device can.
This means that users now carry an ever-greater amount of technology with them, from tablet computers, smartphones, ultra-slim laptops all linked back to their ‘Personal Cloud’ through hyper-speed broadband and 4G Mobile Internet signal. Wherever people go they can access their movie and record collection, streamed directly to whatever remote part of the world they might be. However, with powerful components being made ever-smaller as well as a desire to ‘travel light’, it would seem that for technology in 2014, less (devices) is more (flexibility).
Access to Wi-Fi in cafes, shopping malls and city centres is becoming less of a luxury and is now something which we increasingly ‘expect’ to have. Above anything, 2014 will be the year when ‘The Cloud’ comes into its own. With more data than ever being stored in remote servers buried deep underground.
The result of this permanent connectivity is likely to be a continued blurring of the lines between home and the workplace. Some devices are now openly advertised as being ‘great for work and play’, which is a useful marketing tool as it encourages the belief that users only need one device but equally it highlights how the cloud architecture is continuing to deconstruct the traditional concept of an office.
Where the last five years has seen an explosion in the number of devices which users carry to ensure that they can carry out all possible tasks regardless of location, it is highly possible that 2014 could see a shift towards single, multi-functional devices whose users are all inter-connected through private and public, company and personal clouds.
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