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Glancing to the future: Exciting technology on the horizon

May 01, 2014

When you imagine 2025, what does the technology landscape look like? Information technology companies are ambitiously pursuing fascinating, innovative projects that seem to get more incredible every day. Industry analysts have and commentators have reflected on the emerging gadgets and trends to posit a few predictions for what technologies will gain a foothold over the next decade. One thing's for sure: It's going to be a remarkable ride.

Driverless cars 
We're not even talking ten years for this one: Google recently asserted that its self-driving cars will be ready for prime time by 2017, The State Column reported. These machines use advanced sensors and computing technology to navigate complex roadways. Although the tech giant acknowledged that there are plenty of kinks left to iron out, it's committed to making these self-sufficient vehicles available to the public in a few years' time. 

"As it turns out, what looks chaotic and random on a city street to the human eye is actually fairly predictable to a computer," noted project director Chris Urmson, according to the source.

The next driver you encounter at an intersection might not have a face at all. Will this spell the end of road rage—or a whole new chapter?

Sleek wearables 
Wearable devices have already gained some traction with Google Glass and smartwatches. However, as The New Yorker observed, many consumers are hesitant to embrace the gadgets because they're still rather bulky and awkward. The source reported that Angela Ahrends is joining Apple as its head of retail, bringing with her an expertise in fashion and brand design. Such moves may signal an effort to better integrate wearable technology into everyday items and apparel, increasing their presence by decreasing their visibility. 

Amazon has also made moves to raise the profile of wearables. The company just launched a Wearable Technology store where customers can find the latest offerings for research. 

"Wearable technology is an exciting category with rapid innovation and our customers are increasingly coming to Amazon to shop and learn about these devices," said John Nemeth, director of wireless and mobile electronics at Amazon.

To spur adoption, the retailer is also offering a Learning Center so people can explore their options, such as activity trackers and wearable cameras. With a broader market reach for these products, technology companies may concentrate on expanding their offerings with a diverse array of "smart things." 

Solar-powered data centers  
When Emerson Network Power surveyed IT managers, they indicated that they expect nearly a quarter of their data center power to come from solar energy, Computerworld reported. Other renewable energies are also poised to expand with leaders "imagining some fairly large technical breakthroughs that are going to happen in the renewable space," according to Steve Hassell, president of data solutions for Emerson Network Power.

The source noted that initiatives by information technology companies, such as Apple and Google, directed at improving sustainability and reinforcing green energy developments are helping this trend get off the ground. 

Cloud computing as a norm 
Emerson's survey respondents also predicted that cloud-based solutions will constitute at least 60 percent of all computing. At the same time, they think data centers will be significantly smaller than today's facilities. Specifically, 58 percent of managers said that data centers would probably be smaller, 30 percent thought they'd be half as big, 18 percent estimated they'd be down to one-fifth of today's facilities and 10 percent thought they'd be only one-tenth the size, Computerworld added.

These projected tendencies, while not surprising, point to the staying power of today's big IT network projects, which are also driving strategies such as Big Data analytics and enterprise mobility. 

3D-printed anything 
Already, 3D printers have been designed for ambitious projects including complex medical procedures and devices. Consider these futuristic examples: 

With innovators already pushing the boundaries and imagining new applications for this technology, it's likely to experience refinement and expansion over the next decade. IT pros can seek opportunities to get involved in these projects—or just look forward to getting their hands on the results.

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