Top Tech Trends 2012
the world doesn't end, 2012 should be a watershed year for personal technology
showcasing the beginning and end for a lot of companies, as well as major
transitions for those that are left. Overall, you'll find technology more social, more connected, and
increasingly more voice-controlled. You'll also see the beginning of real
convergence, the next phases of consumerization, and the blurring of lines
between tablets and laptops.
1. Voice Command
The success of Siri is clearly driving a lot of folks to create similar
offerings, so expect this type of technology to make it over to other handset
makers and into tablets next year. PCs should get it as well (some of the
implementations will probably suck). Someone will likely try this in places it
won't work, or use technology that doesn't work very well, with a lot of
knockoffs coming out of China.
2. Email Decline
This has actually been going on for a while, with reports that kids
coming out of school don't have email accounts anymore and live on social
networks and in messaging products. Files are getting too large to send in
email anyway, for the most part, and downloading services that allow you to
share links are vastly quicker and often more smartphone/tablet friendly.
3. Hosted (Cloud) Services
Google started the ball rolling with apps, and OnLive lit a fire under this with
games. As we move into 2012, more and more of what we access will be hosted. Already,
movies are streamed rather than downloaded, and it won't be long until most of
our applications exist on the Internet and don't run locally. There will be a
big push in this direction in 2012. Additionally, more and more users will push
their own content to hosted servers so they can access their files anywhere in
the world – as long as they have an Internet connection.
4. App Stores
This trend continues and accelerates into 2012 with the launch of
Microsoft's app store and the expected death of packaged
software products. As for the software you run locally, you'll increasingly buy
it from a trusted app store, though that store may be offered by Amazon or your
laptop supplier. This will lead to the inevitable end of purchasing packaged
software. Included in this category is the demise of physical DVD's as streaming becomes the top choice for viewing video.
5. Windows 8 - Touch
This product is a trend in and of itself, and it represents the biggest
bet that Steve Ballmer's Microsoft has ever made. The company is going to
singlehandedly blur the lines between PCs and tablets and hope that users don't
get confused. This will bring touch into the mainstream of the PC market and
narrow the gap between notebooks and tablets.
6. NFC and mobile
Google Wallet, Google's mobile-payment system, may
become more widespread in 2012. Next year is likely
to be the year when mobile payments blossom. While we've seen a great deal of
innovation in mobile payments technology this year -- including the success
of Square's iPhone dongle, allowing anyone to accept
credit card payments -- 2012 is the year of NFC.
What's that, you ask?
Near Field Communication essentially lets you replace your credit cards with
your phone: Wave an NFC-enabled phone near the credit card reader in a store
(or taxi cab), and the money is deducted from your account. By 2013, 1 in 5 cellphones are expected to be NFC-equipped.
7. Flexible screens
We can't wait for flexible
screens: These awesome new
bendable interfaces will let you zoom in, zoom out and
scroll around a page simply by twisting your phone or tablet. Nokia and Samsung
have both hinted they may release phones with bendable displays in 2012. The
really exciting stuff, however -- like paper-thin devices that roll up to fit
in your pocket -- is still years away.
8. Beyond the Digital Textbooks
Improved digital textbooks will offer students information in ways that is
more likely to connect with them. The trend is towards digital learning
environments - the expansion of digital learning environments that will help
all students learn.
To explain the distinction, e-books are simply digital
representations of books, with text and pictures. "But when we think about
the expansion in digital books or digital learning environments, it also
includes not just the text and pictures, but also video and Web sites and
simulations, visualizations, and environments where you're testing yourself and
lots of other kinds of things that would be important."
9. Tablets and Mobile Devices (BYOD)
One of the biggest education technology trends in 2012, will be an
increased use of mobile devices with educational apps, according to a September
2011 study by Encyclopedia
Britannica. Smartphones, tablets, and netbooks
lead the pack of preferred handheld devices among K-12 students.
Mobile technologies that are in the student's backpacks, and
are with them all the time will be more important in the new year than they
have been in the past. For learners and people of all ages we're going to see a
trend expanding in that direction. Additionally, many districts facing a budget crunch that will not allow them to purchase necessary technologies for students will begin allowing students to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to school. Students will be required to register their devices on the network and will be subject to the same filtering and rules of using the school's technology.
10. Online "Adaptive" Testing
With the advent of SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), all school districts in the United States will be required to have students take assessments online by Spring, 2014. The online adaptive tests will automatically adjust to more or less difficult questions based on a student's prior answers. Additionally, students will be required to collect information from text and other sources and reassemble it in a comprehensive manner. Look for textbook companies and Internet based testing companies to ramp up "practice testing" features in the next year. Additionally, districts will have to meet the challenge of providing adequate Internet access as well as Internet connected devices to students.