From 3D printers to personal cloud, this year has been filled with numerous advancements in technology. Bizarre, useful, or terrifying, all these advancements share one thing – they’re changing the way we do business. We’re looking back on the top trends that have shaped the industry in 2013.
1. Wearable Technology
If we weren’t already constantly connected to our computers, this tech trend will ensure your smart devices follow you everywhere – as an accessory. From Samsung Galaxy Gear, Qualcomm Smart WatchQ, Google Glass, and the iWatch, all the major tech companies are rolling out their take on wearable technology.
2. 3D Printers
Printers that can create three-dimensional solid objects out of digital models have been around for decades, but their popularity has only recently skyrocketed. Companies in various industries are utilizing these printers to create everything from medical supplies, human tissue, and common household objects.
Solid Concepts has been offering this year’s top tech trends since 1991. We’ve got enough lasers in our manufacturing shop to man a small legion of Storm Troopers (not that we would; laser guns are wasted on troops with such poor aim). Witticisms aside, what makes us so modern is the fact that we mix old traditional value and manufacturing ethics with the top manufacturing technology available. Our shop is filled with over 80 3D Printing (additive manufacturing) machines with talented and professional programmers, finishers, painters and artists working right beside them. It’s a unique balance of mass customization and large volume production, of building the housing for the world’s next top technology boom and giving UAVs the answer to longer flight and prototyping a new toy for the next generation of children. Yes, 3D Printing allows geometries and units to be built in economical ways and accomplishes shapes that were once only possible through the extreme evolution of Mother Nature, but the best technology is nothing without the right engineers, software designers, and knowledgeable representatives. – Alyssa Parkinson, Solid Concepts
3. Big Data
One of the biggest challenges of our decade is tackling the massive amount of data we’re faced with. From social statistics to how much money you’re making per employee, the numbers can be overwhelming. Companies such as Workday, Oracle, Platfora, and Kapow are coming up with solutions to improve how we handle our data.
4. Social Video
From Vine to Instagram, sharing videos on our social networks was one of the most popular activities of the year. Not only individuals, but companies were quick to take advantage of these video platforms for their marketing campaigns. Brands such as Lululemon, Nike, and Burberry are just a few who are paving the way for social video branding.
It wasn’t long ago that marketing companies needed to spend lots of time packaging and promoting any type of video content from their brand. Social media has changed that somewhat, because it gives company employees (like the CEO) a chance to share content that feels much more natural than packaged, promotional pieces. As the co-founder of Twitter and the co-founder and CEO of a young tech company like Square, Jack Dorsey is probably in a much better place than most CEOs to utilize this new type of social media sharing. When he chose to share Vine videos of the company’s new headquarters, it felt like you were watching a video from a friend, not from the company CEO. Video sharing has become less professional and more personal, and that’s what services like Vine and Instagram encourage. With so many consumers using those platforms, it’s a perfect way for someone like Jack to show off the new headquarters with minimal effort, and maximum impact. – Kurt Wagner, Mashable
5. Electronic Surveillance, NSA, and PRISM
When confidential details about PRISM, the mass electronic data-mining program operated by the National Security Agency, were leaked earlier this year, it caused quite a disturbance among the general public. While unsettling, the surveillance program brought to light an issue many people have thought little about – how the use of electronic data could harm or help us.
6. Password Protection
Arguably one of the hottest topics of the year was that of password protection. Even those of us who consistently alter our passwords and use various combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols, are finding their personal data is no longer safe among hackers. Google has been tampering with the idea of a Smart Key – a physical key that unlocks your digital assets. Additionally, Nymi is a device that uses your unique heartbeat to authenticate your identity.
Bionym is doing something entirely original. By bringing identity onto the body through a wearable technology device, the Nymi creates a new system of authentication, replacing not just passwords, but keys and PINs as well. Bionym also seeks to accomplish this system without compromising security or convenience, or neglecting privacy concerns. The excitement from a device like the Nymi has already spread internationally, and Bionym is preparing to make waves come its product release in early 2014. – Kurt Bartlett, Bionym
7. Public + Private Cloud
With the growing desire to safely store and access our digital files from anywhere, options for both public and personal cloud increase. Public cloud services are owned and operated by third-party providers, such as Dropbox, SugarSync, and Box, and are typically larger in scale than private clouds. Individual clients fees are low-cost, pay-as-you-go. However, since they are using a shared infrastructure to store their data, there are security and availability risks. With a private cloud, many of these data security and control risks are minimized. Private clouds, such as LeCei, CloudBox, and My Book Live, are built exclusively for individual enterprises, and can be hosted within an organization’s own data center or externally.
8. Business Analytics/ Analytics Software
Running a business is a huge undertaking, let alone trying to understand all the data about it. Analytics algorithms, such as MapReduce, and software such as SAP, are all aimed at tackling this data and shedding light on how it should be interpreted. It’s no longer just about why something happened, it’s about predicting what will happen in the future.
9. Mobile Device Battle
With more than half of all Americans owning a smart phone, the battle over which one ranks superior seems to be constantly changing. Whether you are on Android or iOS (or even Windows Phone), there is plenty to keep up with. We’ve already seen the demise of Nokia as a standalone phone manufacturer and BlackBerry is now up for sale/scrap.
10. Smart Phones Getting Smarter + The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is an idea that has become popularized this year – huge numbers of digital devices connected to the Internet, creating enormous quantities of data. It’s argued that all this data will invariably change search. Everything from routers, phones, and soon cars and refrigerators, will be connected. Gecko is one such product hypothesis based on constant digital device connectivity, and how we can use that information to better our lives.
So these are the tech stories of this year. Any guesses on what next year will bring?