Thursday, January 07, 2010

Inauspicious Beginning To A New Decade

With the advent of a new decade (we'll go with the flow here--technically, the new decade begins next Jan. 1) we thought we'd do a series of posts on what the future will hold.

We'll start today with what's up for this year, which turns out not to be too much, at least if you look at the Wall Street Journal's Top 10 New Gadgets For Home and Away.

January brings us the much vaunted Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where manufacturers trot out the newest in gadgets. Based on WSJ's sampling of the top 10, we can't get too excited.

None of them is a paradigm mover like the Apple I-phone (much imitated, not yet surpassed) or the Amazon Kindle. Most are, at best, expensive extensions of existing technology. There's an improved digital photo frame. Yawn. A device for the gym to combine your workout stats with your music. along with shouting words of encouragement when it senses you need it. Sorry, but we don't need Coach interacting with our music.

We also have a very expensive flashlight with a battery that will last 20 years. Hmmm. And a portable internet radio device for $350--as if we don't already have enough portable music. And if you're really dying to get internet radio, you can shell out $1200 for a device that will integrate internet radio with your car GPS system--IF you have an i-phone too.

In the computer department, there's a small, netbook looking thingie (the Lenovo Skylight--pictured above) that tries to be a computer and a phone. Maybe this will catch on--it seems to be connected through both wi-fi and 3G networks, so might be useful to those who need full computability all the time everywhere. Chalk it up as a further step down the road to merging of phone, internet, computer and whatever else.

Sony has a touch screen device that you can set up on a counter to keep forever connected to the internet, "displaying the latest online updates for weather, traffic and sports." Have you noticed that there just isn't that much new sports, weather, traffic and stock news through the day?

Kinda cool is a 47-in. flat screen HD-TV that is about one-third of an inch thick. But this is transitional technology. We'll wait for the next holy grail: a 3-D television as thin as paper, that can be rolled up and taken anywhere. (Yes, this will be coming, but it will be a few years.)

In April, Apple--which is known for making cool technological leaps--will introduce a new tablet computer. This might well be worth getting in line for. After using our Kindle for reading, and finding it easy to transport around, we can see the possibility for a tablet that is always connected, has a touch screen, is easily portable and does cool things (kind of a big I-touch).

Soon, we'll do a post about some more interesting things you may well see by the end of the decade, and after that we'll discuss some extraordinary advances predicted to occur before 2040, after reading a book on the potential for a complete transformation of humanity in this century. We'll also do a post on what we'd like to see in a personal robot assistant (it's a lot!)

No comments: