Month: December 2013

Tech Trends Gaining Momentum into 2014

There has been some interesting tech trends that emerged in 2013, or set a foundation in 2013 to setup for a breakout 2014.

1.) 3D Printing Will Show How Valuable It Can Be

There have been plenty of naysayers (and controversy) surrounding 3D printing. I think what you’ll see in 2014  is the healthcare industry being flooded with solutions that can be easily solved with a 3D printer (see here and here). Of course, without the understanding of stem cells, none of this would be possible (shoutout to UW-Madison and Dolly the Sheep!).

3D printing in Healthcare isn’t necessarily a new trend in 2014, but will be a strengthening one. 3D printing solutions in manufacturing will begin to gain more traction than it has ever before. Which is exactly where all of the 3D printing naysayers live. Many of them were quick to say that 3D printing will never replace full, end-to-end manufacturing plants. And at this moment, that’s still a valid point. But as pointed out by executives of major manufacturers, additive manufacturing is an excellent place for 3D printing to add value and begin expanding to more areas within product manufacturing. Here’s a quote from the CEO of a manufacturer:

“We’re able to build shapes that you can’t mould cast or forge – pieces you can’t make in any other way but through additive manufacturing.” All this means specialist parts now cost a fraction of what they once did. “This allows us to avoid fixed costs and it means we don’t have to carry stock because we can manufacture parts on demand,” says Doe.

2.) Quantifying of Self Movement Will Begin To Explore Alternatives and Become More Personal

As mentioned in a previous post, many companies like Fitbit and Jawbone benefited from consumers’ interests in collecting data. These products proved to only pique interest in more accurate data on ourselves. This will lend nicely to new technology for us to be collecting that data more accurately (e.g. wireless EMG used by Athos).

But what I think is more interesting is all of this data collection on ourselves will hopefully lead to healthier lives and preventative healthcare that not only our doctors can use, but also educating our own selves on our health. We have yet to see what action hospitals and insurance companies will take once we have this data, but hopefully this helps improve the overall health of our society.

3.) The Internet of Things Will Gain Steam, Leading To a Smarter Home

It’s still a mystery to me why we aren’t able to control and monitor our homes from our smartphone. If you can today, it’s a very fragmented experience. None of these things talk to each other: August’s Smart Lock to remotely open/lock your door is one app, setting the heat with Nest is another, etc. etc. What you’ll begin to see are systems that A.) condense all of these experiences into one via a central hub B.) companies offering a “smart home” package (locks, thermostat, water, gas, lights, etc.).

4.) Quantifying the Farm

If you think about all of the spaces and industries that have been disrupted by technology in the last few years, it’s hard to think of which ones are left. One part of the economy untouched is agriculture. Sure, there has been innovation in the machines farmers use, but what about incorporating the latest innovations in technology to help farmers understand their operations (crops, demand, futures prices, etc.)?

With all of this talk of drones, wouldn’t the farm be the perfect testing grounds before they deliver our Amazon packages? I think so. Next year I think this drone technology will start rearing its head in agriculture so farmers can evaluate their crops for weeds, pests and natural disaster, while a small number of American livestock producers use the drones to check on their animals’ health and numbers.

2014 should be an exciting year as technology continues to eat current processes, and in turn, jobs! Can’t stress enough, learn how to code and understand how things work. Some numbers suggest as many as 40% of today’s jobs will be replaced by 2030…..all due to technology.

Tech’s Failure in 2013

By and large, I think 2013 was a terrible year for consumer-facing technology. Although these failures have set a foundation for what I think will be a banner year (2014) for how technology shapes our lives going forward. But let’s first start with a things that fell flat on their face this year…..

1.) Mobile Accessories (Example: Samsung SmartWatch)

I think the SmartWatch was only a stepping stone towards a seamless, always connected interaction with technology that is really the end goal of technology. For me personally, I think it would be nice to not have to check my phone, leading to me constantly pulling my phone out of my pocket to make sure I’m up-to-date on all forms of communication (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, texts, Snapchats, etc.).

Capitalizing in 2014: Google GLASS has many doubters and skeptics, with good reason. But the more these mobile accessories fail to address the real issue, the more GLASS will be a necessity. Technology should be an integrated part of our day to day, not a separate experience like it is today. And apps like this would be cool. I do think that mobile accessories like a SmartWatch would be a better fit for Google GLASS owners for times you can’t wear GLASS or don’t feel like wearing it.

2.) Wearable Tech (Example: Fitbit, Jawbone)

Again, I think what was put out on the market this year is definitely a stepping stone towards what the “Quantified Self” movement will be. Despite the popularity of these wearable wristbands this year, all I hear from their owners is how imperfect they are. I’ve never bought one because of that fact. But the excitement of collecting data on yourself is really the driver sales for these products today.

Capitalizing in 2014: Athos is leading the next generation of the “Quantified Self”. Athos has created Under Armor-like clothing that helps transmit EMG signals that allows the system to collect and analyze data in real-time. (Electromyography (EMG) is a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles). From wireless transmission, the next logical step is sensors implanted in our skin!!!

3.) Big Data (Example: Tableau)

Big Data is a funny buzzword. The joke about it is “Big Data is like sex in high school. Everyone is talking about it no one is actually doing it.” Corporations have been able to collect more data than they ever have before, yet they have no way of mining it and digging out the insights/intelligence embedded in it. Tableau is a platform that has been an easily integratable piece of software for corporations. But where it fails, and so do its competitors, is that it still involves someone sitting down to understand what is going on in the data and what needs to be communicated.

Capitalizing in 2014: Artificial intelligence begins to gain traction, companies like the one I work at in Narrative Science. (Obviously this is also a biased viewpoint of mine. 🙂 ). What I mentioned above is what we’ve been hearing from clients of Tableau, Qlikview, etc. Yes these platforms make the data more accessible, but a human has to physically “put the data to work” and understand what needs to be communicated. Why not have the data tell you what should be communicated? That’s what we do at Narrative Science, coding the thoughts and business-rule driven processes that people currently have to go in and interpret. From earnings previews to individualized business reports for franchise owners of fast food chains, we can do write these reports in seconds and it reads like a human sat down to write it.

Later this week I’ll address general trends that will continue into 2014 that we saw emerging in 2013, like the connected home and well, you’ll just have to read the post.