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Tomorrow's news today: The biggest tech stories of 2014

Mark Sullivan | Jan. 3, 2014
I write one of these "Tech Trends of 20XX" stories every year. For me, it's as big a part of the holidays as the Yule Log. I can remember some years when the big predictions for the next year were just the natural, incremental growth of current trends.

I write one of these "Tech Trends of 20XX" stories every year. For me, it's as big a part of the holidays as the Yule Log. I can remember some years when the big predictions for the next year were just the natural, incremental growth of current trends.

But some of the big tech trends we'll see next year seem futuristic--technologies that are quickly ramping up toward some sort of tipping point after which life could change in big, obvious ways. Let's start with the future of your wrist.

The year of the smartwatch

I'm betting on smartwatches this year. A friend of mine told me that she bought a watch because she was tired of pulling out her phone to get the time. She prefers that familiar motion of swinging her arm up to present the back of one's wrist to one's face to get the time. With the right device, it seems natural that people would like to get lots of other kinds of information at the end of that same gesture.  

We've already seen a first mover, Samsung, come out with a product that largely failed to capture the public imagination. Now it's time for the other heavy hitters (Apple and Google) to come in and take the concept mainstream.

Cars get connected

Give me a car that's a rolling access point with screamin' fast internet connectivity. Give me enough bandwidth to stream music, stream video at 1080p resolution, connect up all my mobile devices and wearable tech, enable solid video calls, provide accurate and fast mapping, and whatever else I can think of. 

GM says it will build 4G LTE connectivity into most of its 2015 cars. Audi's 2015 A3 will have 4G connectivity. Gartner predicts that in 2014 the majority of car buyers will expect at least basic web-based information in premium automobiles. Cisco says global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016.

Will this year be the year that the auto makers, the wireless carriers, and all the other stakeholders finally figure this out? Since it's Christmas time and I'm feeling optimistic, I'm going to say yes, but I wouldn't bet the manger on it.

Your new password: your body

God knows why it's taken this long but the tech world is finally starting to react to the problem of site, service, and device credentials. Not only are password requirements becoming more stringent (passwords must have capitals, numbers, and special characters blah blah blah), but we also have way more usernames and passwords to keep track of than ever before. Geesh.

That's why there's growing interest in biometric alternatives to alphanumeric site credentials. Instead of typing in a unique password that you have to remember, you use your unique fingerprint, your voice, or maybe the patterns in your eye. Apple got the ball rolling this year by building the Touch ID fingerprint reader into the latest iPhones, and you can expect that many other vendors will release their own biometric devices during 2014.

 

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