Game-changers: 10 potentially huge technologies

The iPhone caused a tectonic shift in the tech landscape -- what else out there will change our lives?

They start as a mild tremor at first: rumors of an Apple Phone and rumblings about Web 2.0, whispers about touch interfaces and flash storage. Then, in what seems like an instant, there is a tectonic shift that shakes up an entire product category -- or even the industry as a whole.

When the iPhone was released in 2007, everyone knew it would be an important milestone as a touch device. Few predicted that it would be a game-changer in terms of defining the entire category of touch-based phones -- or that it would sell 50 million units and garner just over 1% of the worldwide smartphone market in a relatively short time.

There are other products out there that have the potential to be as (or more) significant as the iPhone. Here are 10 emerging technologies that are already causing a tremor and could ultimately become just as important.

1. Sensor technology

Sensor technology is a game-changer because it means any physical object -- a bridge, the loading dock at a warehouse, the clothes you wear or even your own skin -- can communicate with a network.

"Part of understanding the world is being able to instrument and measure it," says Rob Enderle, a consumer analyst. "Often we do things that we believe will help but may ultimately do more damage than good. For instance, the energy used by a hybrid car, and its environmental impact, may actually be worse than an efficient gas car if all factors are taken into account."

Hewlett-Packard is developing an early prototype called CeNSE (Central Nervous System for the Earth), which uses microscopic sensors to communicate situational awareness about a city ecosystem. For example, a sensor on a bridge could report unusual vibrations back to a central command and first responders. Sensors in a home could report high levels of mercury, lead or pesticides.

"I believe that sensing is the next Internet in terms of driving demand for computing and services," says Stan Williams, inventor of CeNSE and an HP senior fellow. "Very-low-cost and high-performance sensors are now becoming available. They will make possible real-time monitoring of our infrastructure to both optimize operations and prevent catastrophic failures, saving money and lives."

Qualcomm is also developing sensors as part of its Smart Services initiative, while a company called Kovio is developing wireless chips with circuits that can be "printed" like newspapers. The tags are about the size of a penny but can work with a mobile phone to interact with other objects, such as a movie poster on the wall of your teenager's room. The phone could give you information about the movie's schedule, for instance.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags semantic webnetwork virtualisationsocial networkingvirtualisation

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Brandon

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?