Technology predictions for 2012.

(Click here to jump straight into the predictions)

While 2011 saw a few great new consumer technology products come to market, there did seem to be a bit of a lull after the huge year that was 2010. Having seen the release of the iPad in 2010 starting an almost non-existent tablet market, along with the iPhone 4 which again set new benchmark levels for cellphone specs, 2011 turned out to be much quieter for Apple when they released only updated versions of both devices (and no revolutionary iPhone 5, as many hoped).

In the gaming market 2010 had also been a big year with the Kinect becoming the fastest selling consumer device ever, and along with the Playstation Move many new types of gamers started spending money on consoles, while starting the decline of the previously chart topping Nintendo Wii. 2011 however, saw little new innovation, with the main highlights of the gaming year being updates of proven big sellers like Call of Duty.

But several technology highlights deserve a mention - especially as many of them may not have been noticed for how important they were. 2011 saw social media and smartphones used to start revolutions and topple governments. A supercomputer was able to win a round of the TV show Jeopardy! - a technology which may see use by doctors as a clinical decision support system within the next two years. And despite releasing a phone which looked the same as last years model, Apple set a new standard for voice control with Siri on the iPhone 4S, which leads me into my tech predictions for 2012…

Voice control comes to Android.

I expect Google will announce plans for ‘Siri’ like voice control in the first half of 2012, with the system being rolled out on new phones before the end of the year. While Android phones do have certain voice control features already built in, it now looks sloppy and old compared to the iOS version and urgently needs updating.

Apple releases a modular TV.

On the subject of Apple, an Apple TV has been widely rumoured for a long time now, and I think 2012 will see the release of a modular Apple TV system. As described here, the system will only be updated via a small module every year, allowing for faster processors and newer features, without the cost of buying an entire new flat panel. This system allows Apple to keep up the hype of its yearly product release cycle.

5GHz consumer CPUs announced.

Intel is getting closer to releasing its Ivy Bridge CPU chips, featuring a revolutionary 3D transistor design. While Intel hasn’t revealed what speeds they are likely to run on home PC’s, I’d expect to see two versions of the design - ones which can do the same amount of processing as current chips with far less power consumption (for ultrabooks/tablets etc), and ones that deliver much power processing power at the same power consumption, and those will be the ones to watch. This one is a bit of a stretch, but I think before the end of 2012 Intel will announce a consumer level CPU with 5GHz or faster clock speeds as the stock setting.

Augmented reality visor demonstrated.

Sony have been showing off a 3D headset during 2011, which seems to have some interesting virtual reality uses. But while virtual reality seems fun and all, any virtual reality games you play while wearing a visor are likely to send you running into real world walls and are unlikely to catch on. I think this product or a similar technology will be combined with a camera allowing users to play augmented reality games in the real world, or other more practical uses like overlaying information about whatever the wearer happens to be looking at. I’d expect a major company to be ready to release an AR headset in the next couple of years, although it might only find a niche market at first.

Water proof mobile phones.

Given that stories like this one are becoming more frequent, I’d say it’s almost certain that at least one major cellphone manufacturer will start releasing smart phones with a water resistant coating this year. Although Apple usually likes to take on innovative ideas, I think they might stand back and let another company like Samsung use the technology first, to see how consumers react to it.

Last Blackberry phone produced.

Given the declining market share of the once ubiquitous Blackberry phone, I’d say it’s also very likely that RIM will stop producing phones, and will perhaps try and transform into a software company instead, producing apps and licencing their patents to other platforms.

Windows 8 starts a new computer category - hybrids.

OK not quite new - I’m talking about ultrabooks that convert to a tablet by taking away the keyboard/base. This product is already around in several forms including the Dell Inspiron Duo, but it’s never really caught on and you’ve probably never even seen one in the real world - kind of like the tablet market before the original iPad came out. I think the release of Windows 8 (which will support both tablet and computer platforms) will mean this market really opens up in 2012 as it would be perfectly suited for this type of hybrid device, plus ultrabooks really are ‘so hot right now’ anyway.

The Higgs boson particle is finally found.

Scientists around the world rejoice, normal people don’t really get it…

Sub $100 tablets come to market (and they don’t suck).

Just as the race for a sub US$100 mobile phone wraps up, I think a similar race for a $100 tablet will kick off. While you can find a cheap Chinese knock off like this one for well under that price now, I think a major player will try and enter the tablet market with a budget tablet that is actually good to use. Like with the Kindle Fire, a large company could stand to release a tablet like this at a small loss, while making the profits back by selling apps or content through the device - Google could be one contender for this.

No new Xbox or Playstation released in 2012.

As much as most gamers would like to see a next generation console released in 2012, I don’t see it happening just yet. While the hardware inside the consoles fails compared with a high-end gaming PC these days, it’s still plenty for game developers to deal with, and costs of developing for the current generation are already prohibitive for many smaller gaming companies. While the gamers will continue to push for the next generation to be released, I think the developers will stall for this year and continue with their usual line of ‘pushing the current generation to its limit’.

So that’s it for my 2012 technology predictions, remember to bookmark 8 Bit Future or press the ‘Follow’ button at the top of the page, then check back in 12 months for a round up of this years predictions!

What are your 2012 predictions? Leave your thoughts in the comments below…

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