Tech Watch

Every year the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) asks its brain trust to identify trends shaping the technology landscape. The 2014 report—Five Technology Trends to Watch—offers some intriguing insights…

World Wide Web Takes On New Meaning. The number of devices connected to the Internet has surpassed the global population, according to Cisco, and will grow to more than 40 billion by 2020 as we head into a world where “context aware” objects not only transmit and receive information but do things for us—like an alarm clock that sets wake-up time based on traffic patterns.

Sit Back and Relax…in a car that drives itself. Sheer fantasy, right? Not quite. Driverless cars already exist and can be legally driven in parts of California, Nevada, and Florida. When you and I will be able to watch a movie instead of stressing over traffic while “driving” is not clear, but think years, not decades.

Tech to Live By. Technology will play a pivotal role in healthcare, allowing the elderly to live at home longer and enabling caregivers to monitor loved ones. Devices—like a pill bottle that relays a message to caregivers or contacts the pharmacy for a refill when it’s opened—will become more refined and accepted in the near future.

Bring Me My Slippers, Hal. Industrial robots may be poised to move into fast-food but what about consumer bots? In a market projected to reach $6.5 billion by 2017, Ecovacs’ Famibot cruises around the house with its built-in music player and air purifier, ready to alert you if it detects smoke—or, God forbid—a break-in when you’re away. And the day when humanoid robots (like Honda’s ASIMO) help with household chores is coming.

Video’s Holy Grail. TV programming is still the province of cable and satellite, but the proliferation of entertainment sources, devices, and wireless technology has enabled us to become our own curators of content. Yet, the ability to enjoy all forms of entertainment without having to worry about how and where it’s coming from or on which devices and in which format it can be enjoyed, remains elusive. Somewhere someone is working on an über interface to facilitate a truly seamless entertainment experience. Call it Video’s Holy Grail.