Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I Expect From 2014 Tech.

Wearable tech.

2014 is the year manufacturers will try to shove wearables down you throat and their hand in your pocket.

I'm not a fan of wearable tech. I don't like to use anything on my body, that goes for rings, watches, etc. I don't even like clothes that much...

I do love sports wrist watches. The last one I had was very light (titanium built) and I stopped using it when it ran out of battery.

So why on earth would I be interested in using an ugly, bulky, heavy smartwatch I have to charge every night, that drains battery form my smart phone and also makes me look like a dork in the process?

And don't even start me on Google Glass and especially Hang w/ (wtf kind of name is this to start with?).

Still, there's a market there. There will be some sales, and in the future, downsizing, power optimization and proper working features will make them usable and even useful. Not in 2014.

Some will even try to convince you by bridging it with the next topic, the EV connected hipster mobile car.

Connected Car.

- "Mom, why doesn't the (whatever) work?"
- "Dad, why can't I play this game in the car?"
- "What do you mean 'there's no internet in the car' ?"

Ever heard that before?

Have you had your mobile data plan destroyed in an hour of mobile hotspot sharing with your kids tablet/console/etc?

Or maybe you'd just like to use YOUR chosen map/nav solution in car, without having to destroy your smartphone battery, and look away from the dash to a wobbly smartphone hanging from your windshield, or to a GPS unit you have to disassemble and hide every time you stop.

Or you'd like to share with your family the photos you just took (the same ones no one's gonna want to watch if try to do a slide show in your SmartTv later). Or that funny video. Or read the news (or Facebook) as you wait for them outside school.

All that in a proper sized display, again without destroying your phone's battery, and no cables or physical supports.

The solution is (1) to have a SIM card for your car, the same way you have WiFi at home and/or (2) have an integrated "infotainement" system that can talk to your phone (whatever it may be), preferably with it "docked" into the car dashboard, or somewhere in between or a bit of both.

Some manufacturers are now coming out with proper solutions. Some have sided with Apple, others with Google, but many will be smart enough to make their systems compatible with both major players as well as with bluetooth standards.

AT&T and Chevrolet are going with #1 with the 4G connected car,

...and Honda has launched a Siri's eyes free system, while also offering Nokia's Maps as well, and is now in the "open auto alliance" with Google.

Of course all this can only happen on LTE Evolved networks (a step closer to "real" 4G) with new things like LTE Relay and LTE HetNet - Carrier Aggregation and CoMP.

But please just don't let the car's dashboard look like this, there's already too much distraction at the wheel:



EVs will continue to proliferate. EV awareness and notoriety will grow and we may as well thank Tesla and Elon Musk for that. Instead of building the hipster EV all marketing experts wanted and analysts expected, they did a normal and proper car, that just happens to be electric. If you forget the power train, it's an awesome car to start with. Not a horrid (electric) contraption.

As posted before, Fiat almost accidentally built the proper EV for a current car manufacturer. They got the 500 and made it electric. That's it. No gizmos, bells and whistles, no special colours, shapes or what not. It's a car. A Fiat 500. Wich happens to be an EV. And a good small one too.

2014 will see the coming of a new Tesla (Model X) and the unveiling of a new more affordable mid-sedan for 2015.

Hopefully other manufacturers will start selling proper EVs as well, normal and affordable cars like Fiat did, but mostly expect more over-the-top flashy creations like the BMW i-line.

That does not mean I don't think EVs couldn't or shouldn't be different and better than current cars. I do, and think BMW is doing a good job on that, instead of trying to "trick" consumers into buying "gadgety" tin cans or rent batteries like others. But people need to feel secure. People that have money to buy cars, that work hard for it, are not very keen (the older, traditionally the worst) to invest in "new tech". This is where Tesla is doing it right selling a product with the right image for it's target market, and other current manufactures, especially mass producers can too. Fiat is proof of that.

Connected Home.

Every year the dream of the smart connected home is perpetuated. Manufacturers show us "connected" appliancies, but never actually sell them (either just portotypes or priced ludicrously high), and as for the automated home itself, conflicting "standards" and competing manufacturers will keep this in the expensive dream zone for now (maybe forever).

But the time has come when connected devices will no longer cost an arm and a leg. Home automated systems may remain out of reach for most, but at least you'll be able to communicate (directly) with your fridge, washer or cooker.

I'm confident 2014 will be much more interesting that 2013!

Now if we only had the money to get all this new goodness to come...

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