Top 10 tech trends for 2014

In 2013, a number of exciting tech products emerged. Some seem like they’re here to stay (like fitness trackers and smart watches) while others look like flashes in the pan (see Android gaming consoles). In the year ahead, a number of today’s early-adopter technologies go mainstream and some long-rumoured halo products will finally come to market. Predicting the future is always a risky business, but NMTBP have read enough high-tech tea leaves to make a highly-educated guess about the top 10 tech trends of 2014

1. Google Glass / wearable computing goes mainstream

In 2013, Google finally shipped its Google Glass wearable computer to an invitation-only group of early adopters who were willing to pay $1,500 and put up with the challenges of a beta-level product. Now that the company has had the better part of a year to perfect its designs and build some buzz, expect a less expensive, consumer version of Glass to launch, perhaps at Google’s I/O conference in May

Google won’t be the only company to sell a mass-market wearables as Samsung and LG could also release headsets in 2014. Upstarts like Meta and Atheer will offer more immersive, binocular devices for those on the cutting edge

2. The iPhone and iPad get bigger

In a world where Samsung’s 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 and 5-inch Galaxy S4 are selling like hotcakes, Apple’s 4-inch iPhone 5s is the runt of the smartphone litter. While not exactly undersized, the 9.7-inch iPad is smaller than its 10.1 and 10.6-inch competitors

Expect Apple to introduce the iPhone 6 in autumn 2014 with a display that’s somewhere between 4.5 and 5-inches, the current standard of “normal” sized phones. The company is also reportedly building a 12-inch iPad

3. Smartwatches finally break through

There were a number of admirable attempts to build a mass market smartwatch in 2013. But whether it was a lack of apps and screen that goes dark on the Galaxy Gear or lacklustre notification handling on the Pebble, each of the current devices lacks something special and all are much too expensive

In 2014, expect Google and Apple to enter the smartwatch market in a big way. With Apple’s ability to leverage Siri and Google’s Google Now, both companies have assistant services that should work really well on your wrist, along with the ability to mass produce electronics at reasonable prices. Samsung will step up its game with a follow-up to the Galaxy Gear

4. Oculus Rift brings virtual reality gaming to the masses

In 2013, you got your first look at the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality (VR) headset that tracks your neck movements and makes you feel like you’re living in a game. After selling developer kits for $300 a pop, the company will finally unleash its product on consumers in 2014. A raft of new, immersive PC games will finally usher in the era of VR you’ve been waiting for since watching the Lawnmower Man 20 years ago!

5. Ultrabooks Sport 3D webcams

This past year, Creative Labs and Intel launched the Creative Senz3D camera, a dual-lens peripheral that allows you to do complex gesture recognition and augmented reality on a PC. However, few PC users, especially those with laptops, want to attach a bulky camera to the top of their screens

In 2014, the first Ultrabooks and tablets with built-in 3D cameras will appear on the market, allowing developers to create a whole new category of immersive software. Because these dual-lens cameras have depth perception they can track your fingers more effectively, separate your body from your background for greenscreen-like effects and project virtual objects on top of real-world items like children’s books

6. Smartphones get high-res, curved displays

In 2012, all high-end phones had 720p displays. In 2013, 1080p became the new standard for flagship handsets, and now we’re headed even higher. According to ZDNet Korea, Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S5 will sport a 2,560 x 1,440 display This sounds like it will be the new standard, until we get 4K phones in 2015

At least some of 2014′s flagship phones will also use curved glass. After years of speculation, both LG and Samsung released phones with curved glass in late 2013, with the LG Flex even bending slightly to avoid damage. Don’t expect every phone to go curved or be bendable in 2014, but you’ll see this technology creeping into more and more models

7. First Laptops Launch with USB Power Delivery

Because most smartphones use the same micro USB cables for charging, it’s easy to borrow a wire from a friend, dig one out of a drawer or buy a replacement at the local store. However, if you lose your laptop’s AC adapter, you’ll have a much harder time finding a replacement, because each brand has its own proprietary connector

Enter USB Power Delivery, a new standard that will allow such high-wattage gadgets as laptops and large tablets to get both power and data over a single USB connection. At CES 2013, we saw a demo laptop getting power in and sending HD video out over USB. In 2014, we expect to see the first consumer products on sale

8. Mobile fitness devices will really take off

THE hottest thing in technology in 2014, won’t be Google glasses or a smart watch. The New Year will be all about getting fit and staying healthy

“What will be hot are wearable health devices such as NikeFuel Bands, Fitbit, and Jawbone UP,” says seasoned tech analyst Tim Bajarin. “These types of wearables - along with wireless blood pressure kits like iHealth - will see serious consumer interest and be exciting products” in 2014

Other wellness technology on the rise includes remote health care, the Consumer Electronics Association forecasts. With this telepresence medicine, you can visit a virtual doctor anywhere, anytime, just as telecommuting lets you work from anywhere in the world. In the US, pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens are already testing the technology, though it’s still unclear how soon patients might expect to see kiosks

See more details on a fitness bracelet that actually knows what you’re doing at the gym … and a smart shirt that knows your emotions - and if you’re having a heart attack!

9. Ouya and other ‘microconsoles’ will disrupt home gaming

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One may have captured all the recent headlines about gaming systems, but Ouya is only 20 percent of the cost of the latest Xbox. As such it - and other cheap interlopers like the GameStick - pose a threat at the low end of the market, while other computer-based gaming systems pose a threat at the high end

10. 3D printer sales will jump

3D printers were hot in 2013, but they’ll increase significantly over the next 12 months, as HP, Samsung, and Microsoft join the party

See how even the space station will get its own 3D printer in 2014 and why 3D printing and guns make disturbing bedfellows

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