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Tech's future: Huge screens, ARM servers, geosocial everywhere

Patrick Thibodeau | May 27, 2011
MoMA CIO, Forrester analyst give near-term predictions for tech. One possible spoiler: Smartphones won't necessarily rule.

A new "geosocial" app called Sonar is getting the attention of Steve Peltzman, CIO of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

The app, which is loaded on his iPhone, combines location information with Twitter and Facebook networks, creating an opportunity for making connections. "It will be able to tell us who is in the museum right now," Peltzman said.

Some might see this capability as potentially creepy, and Peltzman is aware of social media's downside. But he sees a way to make it work, as well as a need to use the kinds of capabilities Sonar and others will offer.

Participating in social media is critical, Peltzman said. "If you want to be a business leader today, you have to be on it," he said.

Peltzman meets reguarly with social media developers, investors and authors to get a sense of future trends for social networking.

Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester, is also focused on the future and is forecasting some of the changes in hardware over the next five years. Both he and Peltzman made presentations at Forrester's IT Forum here.

"Hardware innovation will continue to rile the tech ecosystems through 2016, forcing software and services strategists to adjust continuously," Gillett said. "We are entering a period of significant turmoil."

Here are some of their predictions:

 

Data center diversity will increase

The "Wintel" monoculture will see increasing pushback from application-specific servers. Oracle's Sparc-based Exadata Storage Server is one example. "There will be a growing category of application-specific boxes," which may or may not have x86 chips in them, Gillett said.

GPU chips, which are good for highly repetitive parallel compute tasks, will also gain traction. Gillett also expects ARM chips to enter the server market, with tiny, low-power 64-bit processors that, for the right workloads, will be more efficient than x86 systems. One company working on low-power ARM servers is Calxeda.

Big displays become the norm

Users will move to 27-in. and bigger displays and increasingly use two of them, expanding the desktop to the limits of peripheral range. But by 2016, the notion of what is a display will change as well and will include opportunistic display technologies that, for instance, project desktops on walls, Gillett predicted.

There will also be increasing use of natural user interfaces with sensors that can detect movement, interpret facial expressions and get data on the local environment.

 

Minority Report-type advertising enters the scene

 

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