9 Recklessly Optimistic Tech Predictions For 2014

9 Recklessly Optimistic Tech Predictions For 2014
conceptual image of business...
conceptual image of business...

It seems a fairly safe conclusion to draw that 2014 will deliver technology news, in some form or other.

Every year since the dawn of time has, pretty much -- whether it was the introduction of Fire Pro, the higher-specced version of Fire, released in 999,998 BC, or the spangly new consoles of the last few weeks: human technology evolves, inventions are reinvented, phones get thinner. So it goes.

Apparently, however, just pointing out that the continued march of time and progress will move forward unabated isn't quite enough for you people.

In fact, it turns out that it is now customary - indeed, contractually compulsory - around this time of year to make actual predictions as to what 2014 will specifically mean for tech.

As such, here are 9 recklessly optimistic speculative guesses at what you'll be doing next year, that you can't already do now.

1. Nuclear Fusion Will Work, And Save Humanity

Nuclear fusion is a technological silver bullet, which if perfected could pretty much solve all of the world's energy problems, resource conflicts and encroaching climate disasters overnight. The problem is that despite fusion already powering our most important energy provider, also known as The Sun, fusion has until now proven too difficult to replicate in commercial forms here on Earth. But the good news is, we're getting closer.

Recently scientists at the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility were able to generate more energy in a fusion experiment than they put in for the very first time. And the hope is that new breakthroughs could come next year. Our reckless prediction? That by this time in 2014, nuclear fusion will be a serious option for the future of energy production. Or rather, that we'll have a strong indication that such a thing might be possible by the end of the 2020s.

2. We'll Find Life On Something

The search for evidence of life on Mars continues, and our visualisations of its once water-rich environment are getting ever more exciting, but hope appears to be ebbing away that anything other than the very, very faint suggestions that the conditions for life could have existed will be found any time soon.

Then again, there's always hope. Curiosity and Opportunity are still going strong on Mars, and we're also looking further afield. A European space probe will land on a comet by the end of 2014, while our search for exoplanets capable of sustaining life - and investigations into worlds within our solar system like the promising icy oceans of Europa also continue. It's possible that in the next 12 months, we could find life on something - or at least firm up plans to send it there ourselves.

3. Your Waiter Will Be Wearing A Smartwatch

Samsung has a plan for 2014 - and it involves eating. Or, more specifically, the bit that comes before you pick up your knife and fork. Essentially, Samsung wants you to start ordering food and drinks on your phone - and sending those requests straight to your server wearing a Galaxy Gear smartwatch (or its inevitable 2014 successor). At a recent press event at London's STK, we were treated to a pretty neat demo in which we texted drinks and food orders to a helpful Samsung-equipped waiter, who brought them in short order, with no need for pesky human interaction at all.

It's impressive, if a little bit hacked-together right now. And indeed there are still kinks to work out, and - needless to say - etiquette to establish. But the point stands - next year smart watches are going to get more useful and more interesting, and they're going to be used in places you wouldn't expect. And yes, Apple, Google and Samsung will all be there fighting for a place on your wrist.

4. You'll Buy An Oculus Rift

If 2013 was the year that the awesomely ambitious Oculus Rift virtual reality headset charmed a thousand games journalists, and sent out real, functioning devices to developers and beta-testers, 2014 will be the year that you buy one.

The tech is almost ready, it's just a question of whether the product will be good enough, scaleable enough and cheap enough to justify a mainstream release - yet. Oh and whether there'll be anything to play on it once it does get released. Still, we're convinced that someone is going to make the dream of convincing home VR real - whether its Oculus, or a bigger, badder competitor currently riding high on strong console sales and looking for a new big idea...

5. Your TV Will Be Powered By Apple

OK look, we know. Experience, common sense and the usually reliable rule of ignoring everything Gene Munster says tell us that an Apple TV is not happening next year. On the other hand, there is circumstantial fodder for thinking its more likely than ever. Apple's flagship Mac Pro powers 4K displays - but Apple hasn't released one. Why? Is it because they have a secret 4K mega-TV in the wings for January, ready to take the CES wind out of their competitors' sails, and sales?


But what's more likely is that Apple will update its TV product portfolio in some form, either its current TV box or something similar, and extend it with more streaming options and services, a fresher, more sensible UI, voice control and Siri integration, and Apps. If they do that, you won't need a new screen - and Apple won't need to sell you one. You'll be running a TV powered by Apple anyway.

6. Google Glass Will Get Released In The UK, But You Won't Want One

By the amount that we've written and talked about Google Glass this year, you'd think it was a real product you could actually go out and buy. It isn't. Not even in the US, where only the 'Explorer' elite still have the privilege of paying $1,500 for a buggy, unconvincing alpha product.

By the end of 2013 it seems clear that a version of this product will probably be on the shelves for consumers - at least in the US. It's even possible the UK will be in the launch window too. But our prediction? You won't actually want one anyway. The "looking silly" barrier is just too high right now, and when it comes to a choice between a cool, stylish watch and a nerdy pair of Tech Specs, we know which way you'll go.

7. The World Will Cry Out In One Righteous Voice: "Death To Robots!"

This year saw the birth of the Campaign To Stop Killer Robots, the awesomely named but deadly serious protest movement to stop the world's military forces developing and using autonomous killing machines on the battlefield. Our prediction is that this is only going to gather pace in 2014, and that by the end of the year the world - via the UN, perhaps - will be nearing consensus that this is one military avenue we probably don't want to go down.

8. A Cure For Something

HIV. Malaria. Alzheimer's. Go for the triple. Come on, science, we know you can do it.

9. You'll Use Technology Less And There Will Be Reindeer In The Garden

This isn't great business for us - a tech site - to admit. But we really hope you'll use technology less in 2014.

As smartphones get better, but also more ubiquitous, and as the shock of the new toy in your pocket begins to fade, we're hoping their role in your life will start to fade too. Your tools will start to become just that - tools, which neither impede or dominate your life. Your new smartwatch, too, will let you disconnect in mind, if not in body, keeping you in touch with the wider world but able to ignore it, if you wish.

Imagine the moment of release. There'll be a pause, and a sigh. You'll look up from your computer screen, rub your eyes, and notice something new. Has that window always been there? The sky, the grass, the little reindeer lapping water from the brook? At once you'll drop your laptop, or Oculus Rift headset, or Apple TV remote, open the door, and stroll out in rapture. The world will open up. Peace will come. A harmony. A new, new year. And back in your office - blinking on your computer screen, unread, happily wasted and irrelevant to your reimagined post technology self - the 2015 edition of this article.

Forget us. You are free.


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