2010 brought us some pretty great new technology.
This year the iPad opened up the tablet computer market which was effectively non-existent before. Kinect and PS Move expanded the options for gamers. 3D TV had a huge boost in sales over 2009, although it’s still not as big as manufacturers would have hoped for. The iPhone 4 and Samsung’s Galaxy S redefined both smartphone speed and screen resolution standards. And Parrot’s AR drone brought augmented reality even further into the public eye.
So what will 2011 bring? Based partly on news and rumors, and partly on my own imagination, here’s my list of predictions for 2011.
• The year of the pico projector.
As covered here yesterday, this technology is already on the market and has been for a while. Expect huge price drops this year and the inclusion of projectors in high end smart phones and camcorders to be standard by the end of 2011. Of course, Apple will shun the technology because they didn’t think of it first.
• Supercomputers get a 10x boost in processing power.
The current leader in supercomputers is China’s Tianhe-1A, operating at around 2.5 petaflops per second. In 2011 expect to see the US hit 10 petaflops, but they won’t be the fastest for long. By year end I’d expect China to have a machine capable of at least 20 petaflops.
• The human genome is finally put to good use.
The human genome project was effectively finished in 2003. Science has still hardly scratched the surface of what it can actually be used for however, and in 2011 I expect the rise of supercomputer speed will be able to put to good use on the genome. Currently development of new drugs can take years and new drugs are often only discovered as side effects of other drugs show they are able to be put to other uses. This year supercomputers will be able to scan the huge database of our genome and create and model new drugs in record time. At least one disease or virus that was previously widespread will have a cheaply available pill to cure it by the end of 2011, thanks to this process.
• North Korea is reigned in.
The last few months have seen tensions escalate between North and South Korea, and the threat of nuclear strikes on the South from North. I expect this year North Korea will lose China as a supporter and military activity from South Korea and the US will enrage the North into further talk of nuclear strikes. This will lead South Korea and the US to invade North Korea, and we will discover the North actually had no nuclear capabilities at all.
• Exoskeletons become mainstream.
2010 saw a lot of news of research into wearable exoskeletons, but not many have made it into practical use due mostly to short battery life. In 2011 we will finally see wearable exoskeletons in widespread military and industrial use for heavy lifting, and some use in helping elderly or disabled people to walk again. 2011 will still not be the year that personal humanoid robots become mainstream, although non-human looking telepresence robots will become more common in offices.
• Apple releases a video game console, again.
Back in 1995, Apple released the Pippin, and to date it’s Apple’s only dedicated video game console. In 2011 I expect we will see not only the Apple TV modified with an App store capable of downloading and playing games, but at the end of 2011 an Apple video game console will again be revealed.
• Cellphones judged by number of cores, not just speed.
LG has announced the world’s first dual-core cellphone, the Optimus 2X. In 2011 I expect all major smartphone manufacturers will have some dual-core models, and the number of cores will be a major factor in judging the ‘best phone’, with quad-core phones on sale by the end of the year. Again I think Apple will buck this trend and stick with single core but faster iPhones, with the iPhone 5 to have a 1.5Ghz processor.
• Mobile devices get sick.
Typically people assume Apple computers don’t get viruses, and people tend to think the same of smart phones. However a powerful virus is already doing the rounds in China, it affects Google Android phones. 2011 will see virus protection apps become common on all major smartphone platforms (Symbian, Android, Apple and RIM), as the number of viruses increases.
• Earths twin planet discovered.
As reported here, 2011 is likely to see the discovery of a planet similar in size and temperature to Earth. We will of course be completely unable to get there.
• Kinect technology gets further uses.
The release of Microsoft Windows 8 will include new facial recognition features and the ability to use the Kinect sensors. Instead of sitting down and logging on to your PC or X-Box with a typed username and password, Microsoft will lead the way in facial recognition, bringing up your personal preferences and settings immediately. The technology will use either Kinect cameras or PC webcams, and will soon follow onto high end smart phones and TV sets. I think this is one area in which Apple will follow suit and bring out similar ideas. While I dont expect Windows 8 to be released this year, I think some of these technology will be incorporated into Windows 7 and Windows Mobile OS, and official announcements will be made about the rest.
And that’s it! Perhaps the most exciting advances this year can not even be predicted. I’ll check back in on this list in another 12 months for an update.
What are your predictions for this year? Comments below…
Also check here for the video gaming predictions for 2011.