Our team will be off to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas soon, and we’ll get plenty of glimpses of the future of technology there. We’ve all heard a lot of promises. But here are some things we’d love to see and use in real life in the near future — whether or not they’re at CES.
We’re not sure if we can get our wish, but this is the list of the coolest technologies that we can’t wait to use. I’ve relied on staff recommendations and other big thinkers for these tips. Thanks, all.
Tell us which one is your favorite in the poll, or suggest your own in the comments.
This technology is one of the truly inspired products coming down the road. It combines an eyeglass-style display with computing power and wireless technology that can deliver information to you based on what you look at in your surrounding environment. Project Glass promises to deliver information to you the instant you need it, like identifying the face of someone standing in front of you. Or so we hope.
Another innovation from Google is going through rigorous testing and the regulatory mill. These cars drive themselves based on computing, wireless, and camera technologies that can make a robot-driven car safer than a human-driven one. You can sit in the driver’s seat and do your email, but you can also override the controls if necessary. Once it’s polished, we’d love to take the car for a spin. But not before they get the bugs out.
Okay, this mythical beast doesn’t really have to be made by Apple. But we need a TV that truly combines the best of the Internet and the best of traditional cable television. Apple has hinted something is coming that will transform the living room. We want to be able to play free or 99-cent apps on the high-definition screen and access our favorite TV shows and first-run movies. We have no clue, though, when this rumored Apple device will really arrive (if ever).
A 72-core Tegra 4-based tablet computer
Nvidia hasn’t announced anything yet, but the rumor is it will describe its next-generation Tegra chip at the Consumer Electronics Show next week. If that happens, you can expect that dozens of tablets and smartphones will follow. Tablets thrive on efficient battery use as well as performance. But Nvidia has been moving down the path of creating Tegra technology that offers both low-power consumption and outstanding 3D graphics and processing power at the same time. It’s time for another great leap that could put tablets on par with — or ahead of — the traditional PC.
Cool wireless technologies that don’t make us glow
The bottleneck in delivering fast Internet service to homes and mobile devices has strangled a lot of innovations. Bridging the last mile and delivering blazing-fast speeds to both home and mobile users is one of the great challenges facing us. It could be done with a huge investment in infrastructure, but smart technology might make it a reality as well. Steve Perlman (of Rearden and formerly the head of OnLive) has demoed Project DIDO, a distributed wireless Internet technology that gets around bottlenecks and delivers awesomeness in the not-so-distant future. We hope it’s real. And it would be great and necessary bonus if these technologies were really safe as well.
Cheap rides into space
I’m still waiting for the Southwest Airlines of space travel to arrive. Maybe $99 to the moon and back? After all, we want to be space tourists one day. The space shuttle has died, but maybe private companies will make it happen.
It would be nice if we could count on the help of household robots and maybe get all of these great gadgets made by robots working in factories in the U.S. I’d like to try out a few personal robots, once they slim down in size and become a little more humanoid.
CSR’s Sirf Technologies division has figured out how to map indoor locations when you’re walking with your mobile phone inside a building. Now we have to see it in practice. Companies like WifiSLAM are hoping to make this real. We can’t wait until we can find our way through the giant hotel-casinos of Las Vegas without getting lost.
4K televisions that cost $500
I know that 4K TV, or those with four times as many pixels as today’s high-definition TVs, are going to be plentiful at CES. In the past year, these so-called Ultra HD TVs have debuted at prices at $25,000 or so. Can we skip the whole learning curve part and jump to the $500 model soon?
I need a better brain. Or a brain enhancement. I’m counting on Jeff Hawkins’ Grok technology, which promises to deliver “big data” analysis based on the processing that resembles what happens in the human brain. Or something like it. It’s like those chips in William Gibson’s novel Johnny Mnemonic.
Will Wright shared a vision last year for personal gaming, or a mobile game that was smart enough to know your interests, know your location, understand your context, and then deliver a surprising, fun gaming experience to you. The game collects a lot of big data about you and processes that. Then it creates a custom experience, a game made for just one person. You.
An awesome game console
How about a great video game console? One with free-to-play games with both traditional game controls and gesture recognition. I’d love to have a wide variety of indie games as well as blockbusters, and I’d like to extend my play to mobile game platforms and the web. Add backward-compatibility and cloud computing. Let’s hope that Sony and Microsoft are listening. Nintendo’s Wii U doesn’t quite do it for me.
Quantified self gadgets that automate calorie counting
We’ve got devices like Striiv that can count our steps. Other gadgets (like the Basis Health Tracker) can monitor our sleep, record our heart rate, and sync with the cloud. But we’d really like to get a device that photographs our meals (or does something like that) and calculates how many calories we’ll consume. This kind of technology could complete the loop in terms of figuring out our physical activity and our food intake, giving us the data we could use to calculate whether we are exercising enough and eating right. (VentureBeat’s John Koetsier supplied this idea, based on the “<a href=”“quantified self” movement where people try to measure everything about themselves).
If this list of new technologies doesn’t sound ambitious enough, we’re also waiting for some pie-in-the-sky science fiction to become reality. We’d like to go for a ride in the Star Trek Holodeck, a virtual reality simulation that is indistinguishable from reality, or live in the Metaverse virtual world of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. And I’d like to use that gesture-based computer that Tom Cruise used in Minority Report. But we’re assuming it’s going to take a while before the tech and entertainment industries can deliver on those visions.
Now if Moore’s Law ever stopped in its tracks, the engine behind all of this change would grind to a halt. Then we could say that things might truly get boring. On the other hand, nanotechnology might be quite useful in replacing semiconductor manufacturing with something else. So we’re not counting on getting bored anytime soon.