Entrepreneur

Five innovations that will define tech in 2013

Manufacturing jobs continue to return to the U.S.

Expect advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing to, as I have previously written, change the economics of manufacturing, lead to a renaissance in design and creativity, and bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. over the next year.

Manufacturing is also destined to become a technology industry. The jobs of the future will be in creating 3D designs and maintaining and operating sophisticated computer machinery. In 2013, expect to see the commercial availability of a new generation of robots like Baxter from Rethink Robotics and the grape-picking Wall-Ye.

From big baloney to big opportunity in big data

Big data was one of the most hyped concepts in the tech industry in 2012 and some are feeling let down. But there is no reason to lose hope—we are just getting started. The amount of data we are creating is increasing exponentially. That data is coming from sources such as cameras, sensors signals, social media, Web browsing trails and Google searches, e-commerce transactions, medical records, and DNA decoding. I expect that in 2013 we will see more success stories like that of Nate Silver, who was able to use big data toout-predict the pollsters. In subsequent years, we will see billion-dollar startups emerge — companies that have mastered the art of using machine-intelligence to harness big data.

Google Now, which was named Innovation of the Year by Popular Science, shows what is possible when you combine disparate pieces of information. Google claims it “tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing.”

Within a few years, expect to be able to do Google-like searches to learn what diseases those with similar genetics have had and what medications worked for them. Eventually, when researchers combine the medical records of a hundred million people with their genome data, work habits, and other information, such as weather and pollution data based on where they live, they will all but certainly be able to determine the correlation between genome, disease and lifestyle.

New user interface paradigms

I couldn’t agree more with Tsukayama on this topic. Expect the computer keyboard and mouse to become obsolete. The most promising product on the horizon is the Leap Motion controller, which senses hand and finger movements, allowing users to do sophisticated gestures similar to those in the 2002 film Minority ReportThere was some buzz about the device in 2012, but this year it is expected to retail for $69. I expect similar technologies to be embedded in many computing devices.

These advances in voice and gesture recognition mean we will soon have a more natural way of using computers. When Google releases Project Glass—eyeglasses that display words and pictures — in the coming years, I predict we won’t even need the computer screens at all.

Don’t be surprised if 2013 is a a dull year for Silicon Valley bloggers looking for the next social media startup and a really exciting year for humanity.

Photo of Vivek WadhwaVivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University and Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. His other academic appointments include Harvard, Duke and Emory Universities as well as the University of California Berkeley.

This article originally appeared on the Washington Post website. Washington Post Co. Chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.

Top photo: An Intel executive shows off an array of tablets. Photo by Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat.

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