Welcome to 2010. As these round numbers often inspire an opportunity for reflection of the last decade, this week we look back at some of the technology trends of the last decade and explore how they’ve changed our lives—while taking a peek at what’s to come.
In just a few short years, cell phones, PDA’s, and other mobile devices have become such a vital part of our lives. They allow unprecedented access to information whenever we want it, while making users themselves just as accessible. Now we instantly have the ability to upload moments of our lives when events happen. Meanwhile, Web sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Youtube, and Flickr have granted a forum to display various aspects of our lives—pictures, video, and text messages—that the rest of the world can view at their convenience.
This rapidly developing technological connectedness shows no signs of letting up. Many new phones feature 5+ megapixel cameras, as well as video capabilities. Coupled with texting, these pocket-sized computers offer very powerful tools for blogging and sharing various kinds of media. The Web has responded in kind as increased integration among sharing sites allows for posting with even greater ease. New Web sites such as Ping.fm, retaggr.com, and others work to gather your social media and provide a single platform from which to send an update, video, or picture and the service and display it to all your other social media sites simultaneously.
After connecting with family and friends, we can always turn to our mobile devices for entertainment. Many devices now offer video games, on-demand video, and our favorite music whenever we wish.
Laptops/Netbooks/Smartbooks and Tablets
Aside from increased connectivity, recent technology has granted more mobile productivity. For many professions, the days of traditional workplaces are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as various devices allow us to work from anywhere we choose.
Being productive means many things to many people. A productive salesperson, for example, must always strive to meet a client’s needs. In other professions, productivity involves tracking markets in other countries, which translates to nontraditional hours. This creates a need for flexible workspaces, where one might need to connect to the company intranet from home at 1a.m. and check projections against up-to-the minute reports from the country you are examining.
Many recent computing devices such as laptops and tablet PC’s have freed us from the tether of the office, making it now possible to work anywhere. Advances such as solid-state hard drives, greener and meaner energy consumption requirements and wireless Internet have allowed us to bring the office to any locale.
We can now access information so we can close the deal, print the contract, and update the boss via e-mail all from the road. Advances in this trend continue in the near future with the promise of upcoming Smartbooks—a hybrid of smartphones and netbooks.
TV/Video Games and Consoles
The highly popular and enormously successful Nintento Wii has changed video games forever. Advances in gaming technology have done away with the traditional joystick and have made the gamer himself the control. Both Microsoft and Sony are following this trend with projects in the works that get the gamer off the couch and moving.
But it isn’t just the way we control them—the quality of the video games themselves have gone through a significant transformation. As graphics cards and processors become increasingly complex, the gaming industry has been in a race to take advantage of all the new innovations the emerging technology has to offer.
Advancements in video games have moved them from a flat 2-D to a 3-D world, and expanded content makes for a richer gaming experience. Gamers can now enjoy the interactivity of a multi-player platform via wireless Internet connections, and new technologies such as infrared movement-based game play will mark the transition of games into 2010.
Just like the mobile devices described above, we will see more gadgets that have multiple functions. Blu-Ray is playing a large part in the console market, and will soon be offering game consoles that will work double duty as DVD and Blu-ray Players.
Television has also seen significant change over the last decade with the plasma flat-screen, but the next big advance with TV may be 3-D. As movies like Avatar, Up, and others continue to exploit a greater sense of pictorial depth, 3-D viewing may soon be the new standard in visual entertainment.
If the last decade is any indication, 2010 promises to be a great year for technology in general. We can expect to see an even greater amount of freedom, connectivity, and brilliance in the advancements to come.