Technologies to watch for in 2014

Rahul Devnath
Published: May 2014

The New Year is here and so is the promise of new gizmos and gadgets that are all set to grab attention this year.

Ambrose Bierce, the famous American journalist, had once quoted, “Telephone is an invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance”. Little did he know, the way mankind will come to embrace the modest telephone, albeit generations later and it will become the most popular means of communication. As a matter of fact, none of us would have imagined how much the world would change in even a decade’s time. We are dependent on technology and our existence is encapsulated by gadgets and gizmos. Interestingly, technological spin offs created as parts of other products have proved to be far more successful than mainstream commercial products. Last year had its fair share of gifts for technology buffs as well as mass consumers. It is being expected that in 2014 a surging global economy combined with a pool of proven scientific knowledge, will prove to be a game changer for the industry and the consumers. We take a look at some such innovations of the year.

1

THE PROMISE OF ‘CAVITY PROOF’ TEETH

cavityVisiting your dentist could soon be a thing of the past! We have a new way to prevent cavities forever. A few years back, Jose Cordoba of Yale University and Erich Astudillo of Universidad de Santiago discovered a chemical that could kill the cavity causing bacteria completely. The molecule has been aptly named Keep 32 — as a salute to the 32 teeth in the human mouth. In order to be effective at killing the bacteria, the product must remain in your mouth for 60 seconds — after which time you’ll be protected for several hours. Patients should be excited about the new discovery because the researchers claim that it could a serious dent in the business of dentists once it is available in the market, because people may not have to visit their dentists anymore.

What makes ‘Keep 32’ unique, is the fact that its meant to be safe for human consumption. Hence, the molecule may not only be incorporated into toothpastes, but also in products like mouthwashes, dental floss, candies, lollipops, dental night gel and other such items that can be kept inside the mouth for at least 60 seconds. With Procter & Gamble and five other chemical giants fighting for the patent to Keep 32, it’s not far from hitting the shelves near you.

2

TERRABYTE AND BEYOND MINIATURE STORAGE SOLUTIONS

chip
How many times have you been frustrated with your slow and limited SD or flash memory? Ever wished for infinite storage? While an unlimited storage, maybe a few years away, at the moment even a 1 Terabyte SD Memory Card probably seems like a very expensive technological investment. Many computers still don’t come with that much memory, much less SD memory cards that fit in your digital camera. Nonetheless, thanks to Moore’s Law, we can expect that the 1TB SD card will become commonplace in 2014. It would come as a relief for those who face increasing necessity for storing larger swaths of data and information that we’re constantly exchanging every day. The only disruptive factor here could be the rise of cloud-computing, but as data and transfer speeds continue to rise, it’s inevitable that we’ll need a physical place to store our digital stuff.

3

flexible displays

displayFrom healthier teeth to ultra cool Smartphones. Just when you thought that your Smartphone’s display couldn’t evolve any more, with the likes of “Super AMOLED” from Samsung and “Retina display” of Apple, Samsung has quietly developed its next generation arsenal of technologies, ready to usher a new era of human interaction. The company is being its usual aggressive self and filling its plate with display technology that could make for some very interesting Smartphone uses in coming months if not for all the displays in your home.

If all goes according to plan, Samsung will soon be switching its complete display technology towards using metal mesh touch screen panels. This has various benefits, but two are particularly interesting. For one, this brings the company closer to that holy grail of flexible displays because it has low surface resistance and is easily bendable. As the technology matures, there is no limit to its innovative implementation.

Samsung has also been spotted filing a patent claim for back side controls on Smartphones. The difference between this and existing implementations is that Samsung’s patent involves backside controls on a transparent display and not on a back cover! The filing shows images of users controlling video playback or recording as well as normal lists and icons from the opposite side of a transparent screen. This is one case of a technology that is still far into the future though, as transparent displays, much less transparent touch screens still have to make their way into consumer electronics.

4

wearable computers

tv20th century, promised a lot, including wearable computers. With numerous Hollywood flicks, showcasing such computing technologies, how can they go wrong? Google Glass launched the first wave of ‘Explorers’ and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear introduced smart watches to the masses. These ‘Wearables’ are at the bleeding edge of technology roadmap. It’s new and advanced, but not yet commonly accepted. But 2014, is where, wearable computing is promised to be everywhere!

Going beyond, Google glass, Wearables in car can monitor for carbon monoxide levels for those stuck in long traffic jams and adjust the air circulation depending on body temperature. Wearables can also detect and work in conjunction with the car to enact countermeasures for drivers who experience sudden illness or attacks while behind the wheel. Automotive manufacturers have already begun to explore ways in which wearables can work in tandem with their vehicles — the Nissan NISMO being a prime example. Expect more partnerships this year, which will improve driver experience and enhance the safety of everyone on the road. In the coming months, most wearables will interact with the Internet in some manner of speaking and these interactions will be recorded. Wearable health devices can be synced to provide information about our lifestyles to doctors or insurance providers and navigation-based wearables could send data about our location through technologies like GPS sensors.

So strap yourself; it’s going to be a wild ride for gadget freaks. Considering the changes we’ve seen in technology over the past year, we should be invigorating ourselves for unprecedented growth when it comes to anytime, anywhere, on-demand information and entertainment. Based on the trends we’ve seen so far in 2013, 2014 will see many newer technologies mature and grow.

 - Rahul is a well travelled Bangalore based photo journalist with experience in reporting, writing and communication. Currently, onboard The Jain University Press, he specializes in aviation and technology.