There are so many groundbreaking technologies in the pipeline that its hard to know where to start. However, if I had to choose the three technologies that really excite me I would go for 3D Printing, Personal Cloud Services and The Web of Things.
3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s but it wasn’t until 2010 that 3D printers became widely available commercially.
3D printing or Additive Manufacturing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.
In the next few years 3D printing is expected to turn manufacturing on its head with corporations spending large sums of money in an effort to develop affordable 3D printers for home desktop use. If this can be achieved then consumers will be able to print products as required. In other words, consumers won’t have to purchase a product then wait as that product is transported from the other side of the world. The consumer will simply purchase a product then take immediate delivery of that product by printing it using their 3D printer. This process will dramatically reduce costs to both the consumer as well as the manufacturer since products will be printed on demand, layer by layer, with no wasted materials plus there will be virtually no transport cost.
3D printing has many possible applications and is currently being used in a range of industries including industrial design, automotive design and aerospace. There are several 3D printing projects currently underway which are worth mentioning. In particular, a 3D food printer being developed by NASA, a 3D chocolate printer being developed by Hersheys in partnership with 3D Systems as well as the ethics of 3D printing of human tissue and organs.
As educators we’re all familiar with public cloud services such as Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive where your data is stored on a server (or ‘in the cloud’) rather than on your computer’s hard drive. Recently however, there’s been a lot of talk about personal (or private) cloud services where users can connect machines without the help of a central server. In other words, a user can sync data between devices without storing data on any server. This development has been driven by the fact that users are becoming more concerned about privacy and the security of their data. There are a number of players in this field including Polkast, BitTorrent Sync and ownCloud.
I’ve been using public cloud services for many years now. Dropbox launched in 2007 and Evernote in 2008. I started using both of them pretty much right from the start and was a big user of both for several years. However, Google introduced us to Google Drive in 2012 and I’ve been using it ever since both at work and at home. I still use Dropbox and Evernote but not to the same extent. Personal cloud services haven’t been around for long but I did give Polkast a try about 18 months ago. I liked it but in the end I decided to not include it in my technological repertoire because it was a bit too complicated.
We’ve been hearing about the Internet of Things for a while now. This is the idea that in the future sensors will be embedded into physical objects such that these ‘smart’ objects will form an interconnected network of devices (or information network) that will communicate with each other via Internet protocols.
In ‘10 of the Biggest Trends in Technology For 2014’ (Banks 2014) the author predicts that one of those trends will be The Web of Things where…
Just about everything we interact with becomes a computable entity, allowing our smartphones to seamlessly connect with our homes, cars, and even objects on the street.
These smart objects including fridges, air conditioners and shoes will be able to do things we can’t even begin to imagine. As an example, one day in the future this technology may allow us to turn on our coffee maker in the kitchen by slapping our alarm clocks in the bedroom.
D’Aveni, R. A. (March 2013). 3-D Printing Will Change the World. In Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/2013/03/3-d-printing-will-change-the-world/ar/1
Banks, D.M. (January 10, 2014). 10 of the Biggest Trends in Technology For 2014. In The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/damon-m-banks/10-of-the-biggest-trends-_b_4725708.html
Chui, M., Löffler, M. & Roberts, R. The Internet of Things. (March 2010). In McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_internet_of_things
Proffitt, B. The Internet Of Things in 2014: Steady As It Goes. (27 December, 2013). In ReadWrite. Retrieved from http://readwrite.com/2013/12/27/2014-will-see-small-moves-towards-internet-of-things#feed=/tag/internet-of-things&awesm=~ozRPXJKZxZGbTT
Sharma, R. (15 January, 2014). The Future Of 3D Printing And Manufacturing. In Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/rakeshsharma/2014/01/15/1255/
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The Next Big Thing You Missed: A Would-Be Dropbox Meant to Thwart the NSA. (11 February, 2014). In Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/business/2014/02/bittorrent-sync/
Top technology trends for 2014. (n.d.). In IEEE Computer Society. Retrieved from http://www.computer.org/portal/web/membership/Top-10-Tech-Trends-in-2014
Web of Things. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_Things
What Is a Personal Cloud? (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.seagate.com/do-more/what-is-personal-cloud-master-dm/