Predicting the future, especially in the ultra-fast-moving tech world, is a risky business. Do you remember that a year ago Intel was expected to enter the TV business? That didn't quite happen—but by the end of the year, the processing giant had released its Bay Trail platform and was poised to seriously take on Android and iOS tablets for the first time. Intel had been promising competitive products for years, but until this year the odds of correctly pegging them to follow through were pretty slim. And though rumors of a new Mac Pro were percolating by November 2012, would you have believed anyone who told you that when it was released it would look exactly like a miniature garbage can? Then again, sometimes predictions—for example, the death of the desktop and the PC in general as the mobile revolution accelerates—come true all too easily.
We here at PCMag love technology and we're about as close to it as anyone can get, reviewing more than 2,000 products and covering thousands more releases, events, and breaking news stories every year. And we regularly work with dozens of major industry leaders at the biggest companies, who are on the front lines creating the devices and making the advancements that we'll cover tomorrow. So we decided to put all that experience and expertise to the ultimate test and drum up our own list of predictions for 2014. We asked our analysts, editors, contributors, and best contacts what they thought the year ahead would hold, and got back dozens of answers, ranging from the conventional (new products appearing, ancient favorites vanishing) to the shocking (major innovations fizzling out, once-groundbreaking companies getting smacked down by ambitious upstarts).
Whether all—or any—of these come true remains to be seen. But the responses point to 2014 as a watershed year for technology, as it moves into more places—and affects our lives in more ways—than we've ever experienced before.
What do you expect to see from technology in 2014? Let us know in the comments.
Brian Westover Analyst, Hardware, PCMag.com The addition of touch screens, gyros and magnetometers that the tablet form factor brought to PCs was just the beginning, as this year we've already seen HP introduce a laptop with theLeap Motion Controller built in. In the coming months, expect to see even more advanced sensors that track gestures, eye-gaze data, and more. They seem like one-off gimmicks now, but there is every reason to believe that these features, and the natural gestural and gaze-based interfaces that they allow, will be not only more common, but ubiquitous in the PC space.
Laarni Almendrala Ragaza Managing Editor, Software, PCMag.com The holographic interfaces you saw in Minority Report, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3 may not be so far-fetched after all. The Leap Motion Controller brought to fruition the idea that you don't have to touch your screen to actually control the interface on it. Holographic interfaces are the natural next step. Elon Musk is already on it. He even posted a YouTube video showing how you can design a rocket using gesture controls for the screen. Soon, you'll be able to bring Tupac to your own living room—just maybe not as big.
Mitchell Hall Managing Editor, Features, PCMag.com Flexible, interactive screens will start to revolutionize not only smartphones and tablets, but also surfaces from indoor and outdoor walls to roadwork signage and public transport. Such screens are going to become orders of magnitude more ubiquitous than they already are.
Renee James President, Intel During the next era of personal computing, the biologic problem shifts to a computational problem in the treatment of cancer. Computing doesn't get any more personal than when it saves your life.
Robert Wheadon Director, SSD Product Marketing for Crucial Consumers turn to their computers to do just about everything, so tomorrow's products need to enable them to instantly and simultaneously connect with friends, apps, websites, games, videos, and playlists. In 2014, we expect more consumers to upgrade to SSDs, which offer nearly instant load and boot times compared with hard drives.
Joel Santo Domingo Lead Analyst, Hardware, PCMag.com Hard-drive based DVRs have been the mainstay of the time shifter since 1999's introduction of the TiVo. With cloud-based services and online streaming finally commonplace in mainstream homes, the only time you truly need to record and watch later is for live events like news stories and sports contests. Cable companies and online video providers can fill this niche by replicating the DVR experience, but keeping the storage of the programs on cloudservers.
Jack Gold Information Technology Analyst, J.Gold Associates In the next two to three years, the personal computing model will morph into an EC ("everything computing") model. Smartphones and tablets are preliminary steps down this path. Smart peripherals (such as wearables), embedded systems (cars, appliances), and personal assistants (medical instrumentation) will change how individuals communicate, socialize, and operate in business settings. EC will require new methods of content and delivery, accumulating, and analyzing the immense streams of data created, and providing true universal connectivity. Most users will have three to six devices in use on a regular and continuous basis. This will touch all aspects of computing; companies not focused on EC will become obsolete.