New tech for a new year

| January 13, 2011

It’s 2011, and the bad news is we don’t have moon colonies and hoverboards. The good news is that technology has never been easier to learn – there’s a lot of hot tech to look forward to this year, which makes me want to start redesigning my basement to make room for new toys.

The recent CES show in Las Vegas showcased some great new tech advances that we’ll be seeing in Louisville very soon, if your neighbor hasn’t gotten it already.

apple-ipad-wifi

Apple iPad

Tablets

While iPads aren’t necessarily new, their functionality continues to increase with the increased sophistication of applications and improved development. There are some amazing tools and apps to really enhance your tablet experience.

iPad is the clear early winner, but all the other big guns are entering the emerging tablet market and making their pitch. Samsung, Toshiba, HP, Dell, Visio, and Motorola are all offering tablets with different versions running Google’s new Honeycomb Operating System. RIM (The Blackberry guys) are also entering the tablet war zone and creating an app store. I see them running a very distant third to Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market.

Tablets are coming in all shapes and sizes, and with different features based on needs. Expect to see a lot more tablets in the workplace this year.

If you haven’t bought an iPad yet, you might want to wait until April when iPad 2.0 is expected to come out. Apple is obviously tight-lipped about what features it will have, but speculation is that it will have a front or a rear camera (or both). This will be useful for videoconferencing.

Video Conferencing

Video conversations will become more and more common. The more mainstream use will be providing a video window to another person to “see what I see” – a concert, a document, a recipe, grocery shopping, a meeting, etc.

I’m not convinced video will take the place of casual phone calls or texting – mostly because we don’t necessarily want the other party to see us, but instead see something.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

E-Book Readers

The jury is still out on which is the best platform to read books. But one thing is for certain – digital books have won over brick-and-mortar stores. I predict we’ll see multiple bookstore chains close or sell off major assets.

One thing we will see are interactive books that allow kids to learn new words or do an activity – and parents can track progress.

Magazines have been slow to adopt digital, but you can get many magazines on your iPad – expect more digital newsstands as more people get tablets or e-book readers.

Flip-UltraHD-Camcorder

Flip UltraHD Camcorder

Pocket Videocameras

My dad used to make me carry the video camera bag when we went on family trips. Now you can record all your favorite moments, and have it fit in your pocket. Most are under $200, waterproof and have up to 10 hours of recording time in HD.

4G

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile – we love them and love to hate them. They carry enormous amounts of data and allow us to communicate almost anywhere. Yet there’s always that one guy (or gal) who “hates” their phone because of poor service.

Fortunately for the impatient, expanded networks and mobile broadband will give us faster speeds and the ability to do more. If you have a 4G enabled phone and find yourself traveling in Nashville, Chicago or any large major city, turn it on and see for yourself.

Facebook: Privacy, LIKEs, and Places

Facebook is not new technology, but we’re seeing advertising, marketing and branding change due to the mass adoption of it. The “like” button is going to be one of the most important pieces of data on the Internet. What you “like” is very important to advertisers.

The “like” feature is not something that you need to be afraid to click. It’s really a great feature to stay on top of what companies are offering. Just realize that a “like” exposes your profile and sometimes your friends’ profiles to more than you may realize. Carefully choose the pages you decide to “like” as you get accustomed to lots and lots of activity coming across your live feeds and status updates.

As a word of caution, it’s not a good idea to list your home address or private information on your profile. (You’d be surprised how many people do this, and then announce that they are leaving for vacation.)

Texting

Again, texting isn’t new – but you’ll be able to do WAY more stuff with a simple text message in 2011. Banks will notify you of happenings in your account in 160 characters or less. You’ll be able to text customer support and get an answer in real time instead of waiting on the phone.

But one thing Kentucky says you can’t do any more in 2011 is text and drive. Nothing is so critical that it can’t wait for a few minutes, so remember to practice safe text.

Panasonic 3D TV

Panasonic 3D TV

Television

Thinner screens and 3-D TVs that you can watch without glasses will arrive, but they’ll come with a bigger price tag. 3-D projectors are coming down in price and give fantastic results, so I think we’ll see a lot more people buying projectors instead of larger screens than in the past.

We’ll also see more interactive TVs that connect to the Internet, stream content on-demand and allow you to interact with other viewers or with the show itself.

Smart Homes & Smart Cars

You’ll be able to close your blinds, record TV shows and create different moods in the house with your smartphone. You will be able to start your car with your smartphone.

Not impressive enough? How about your home detecting when you are 10 miles from home in your car and turning on your heat and preheating your oven? Companies like Control4 are making the home smarter and easier to manage from a phone/tablet.

Polaroid Glasses

This just in from Polaroid and Lady Gaga – no, I’m serious. This gadget allows you to take pictures of whatever you see and display it on the outside of your lens for all to see. Neat concept, but I would hate for people to stare in my eyes and watch TV.

Keep learning

Pick up a gadget that interests you and give yourself a month to really use it and incorporate it into your life. Rather than let technology continue to pass you by – embrace it.

Ankur Gopal is COO for Agent 511, a Louisville-based mobile tech strategy and development firm. When he’s not trying to figure out how his smartphone can make him breakfast, he is replying to e-mails at agopal@agent511.com.

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