Josh Bolinger: 2013: The Year in Tech
I know I say this every year, but 2013 was a huge year for technical innovation.
Right off the bat, Google Glass leaps out as a biggie. This is going to be one of those technologies that changes our lives in ways the inventors never imagined. Of course, that’s one of the points I’m always harping on, isn’t it? You never know what you’re going to discover when you set off on a journey of exploration. And with new technologies, that is especially true, because as designers, we can visualize uses for the things we create, but we never really know what those things are truly good for until they get into the hands of the public, and they start thinking of innovative, brilliant, or even crazy uses for the things we’ve built. Google Glass is one of those things that I truly believe we will be years in learning, just what is this thing for?
Other big innovations for the year:
The mainstreaming of electric cars by Tesla Motors. This is a phenomenal company, with a very bright future. One of the big problems with electric vehicles has been the difficulty that traditional auto manufacturers have in marketing them, or even designing them to be marketable int he first place. I think we can safely say that Tesla has broken through the branding barrier, and created electric cars that are desirable to own, with a status and a cachet that is truly unique.
Drones, drones, drones. Their military origins and their surveillance capabilities are a little disconcerting, but this is a type of machine that is just going to become more and more prevalent. I think we’re going to see a whole new delivery infrastructure eventually rise out of the use of these flying robots, and the fossil fuel savings will be world-changing.
Home Automation. This is a field where we have been seeing little bits and pieces kind of pop up for years, but I think with the arrival of systems like Revolv, that bring it all together. Home automation is reaching the next level with app controls, colored lighting, smart locks and more. And again, this is a field we have no way of predicting. When these systems become common, and home-tech geniuses start playing around with it, there’s going to be an explosion of innovation.
Crowdfunding. Kickstarter is the leader in this field, but it is just the bare dawn of this approach. New regulatory moves are going to open this area up for capital investment, and then there’s going to be no going back. I think it will take awhile to get the wrinkles out of the investment side of things, and I’m not totally thrilled with the proposed rules, but we are definitely off and running.
Other notables: 3D printing, and kinetic interfaces like Leap Motion.
The world is changing. And it’s going to be a lot of fun.