From the newest iPhone to 3D printing and smart watches, 2014 saw the rise of many new technology trends. It also paved the way for even greater innovation in 2015.
Yet, in recent years, it seems people are always saying this. Blast caught up with an expert to find out just how notable the year 2014 was for technology and what people can look forward to in 2015.
Former president and CEO of Rockwell Scientific Company Derek Cheung gave us his take on the issue. With 28 technology patents, Cheung couples his vast technological experience with a historical perspective acquired during the writing of his recently released book, Conquering the Electron: The Geniuses, Visionaries, Egomaniacs and Scoundrels Who Built Our Electronic Age.
One of the most notable trends of 2014 was the improvement in microelectronics, Cheung said. This is the technology behind smartphones and many types of robotics. The chips in these devices have gotten more powerful and cheaper over the past year, according to Cheung.
“Microelectronics enabled technologies to continue to flourish,” he said.
From drones to self-driving cars, Cheung pointed to countless inventions to show the results of advancements in microchips.
Cheung has also seen a huge improvement in wearable devices, especially in the healthcare field. Gadgets such as Fitbit – a smart watch used for fitness tracking – is already using sensors to keep track of sleep patterns and heart beat during exercise. Cheung believes that soon there will even be non-invasive ways to detect blood sugar levels.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “Soon your health will be monitored all the time and you can get better care.”
With such high levels of data collection, the issue of privacy raises many concerns. However, Cheung said that most people are protected by the massiveness of the data set. It is unlikely that any individual can or will be targeted when there is so much data to sort through.
The medical field has also seen many benefits from the growth of 3D printing in 2014, according to Cheung. The trend of miniaturizing – making 3D prints on a nano scale – has a future in implants, he said. Tiny devices to hold medicine could be printed and then pre-stored in a small cavity of the body. When a sensor detects a certain type of body chemistry, such as a lack of one chemical or an abnormally high level of another, the device could release the medicine.
“I think the future is endless with 3D printing,” Cheung added. “You can even mimic DNA with some form of yet to be defined 3D printing.”
The one area where Cheung saw the technological world fall short in 2014 was augmented reality – technology that is meant to superimpose data onto what you’re already seeing.
“That technology has not grown to a way that people thought it would take off,” Cheung said.
Many people thought Google Glass would flourish in 2014, but the hardware is not yet powerful enough. It is too bulky and too expensive to present commercial appeal, experts have determined.
Cheung thinks it will be another five to 10 years before augmented reality becomes viable for the consumer market.
The biggest thing to look forward to in 2015 is the ability to transfer data 10 times faster than one can currently, Cheung said. He predicts that people will be able to transmit 30 GB per second in an affordable manner.
It’s amazing to see how humans developed and are able to conquer these seemingly magical technologies, he said. This is the theme Cheung explores in his book.
As consumers continue to be fascinated with the technology of 2014 and the new technology that 2015 brings, he reminds them to never forget the long history of advances that enabled it all.
“I think everybody looking at today’s technology should not take it for granted,” Cheung said.