Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Smart, untethered, floating in cloud

That’s what we will increasingly become this year. It’s New Year’s Day today; and like every year, time to stick our necks out to make a few predictions on what will rule cyberspace and gadget shelves in the coming months. Here we go:

Internet of thingsPhones are smart, most things around us too will soon be. Televisions have made a beginning. There will be a better fusion of TV and internet, and it will get more popular. Next will be camera. You will be able to upload and share better quality photos. Soon Kwon, MD, LG India, says, “Home appliances like refrigerators are all set to become the next generation of smart devices by adopting new, interesting features like Calorie Counter and Smart Shopping.” Imagine getting an SMS while in office that your son has just taken the last egg from the fridge and you will need to replace the stock before you reach home. Another possibility: a box that reminds you to have the medicines on time.

Personal cloudMore people will have multiple devices that are interconnected, move to the cloud and use applications like Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive and Dropbox. Instead of copying files on portable devices like pen drive and passing on to another person, people would rather prefer to share files on cloud platforms. As Sunil Dutt, MD, RIM, says, “Spurt in smartphone adoption, increasing use of tablets and growing comfort levels with technologies such as cloud are making it easy for consumers to access data from anywhere at any time at seriously low costs.”

Mobile TVWatching TV channels on mobiles will gain huge traction. “Many people have moved away from ‘appointment viewing’, and are consuming content at their own time, convenience and on the device of their choice,” says Vishal Malhotra, business head, New Media, Zee Entertainment, which has the Ditto mobile TV app. Now, you don’t need to be at home to watch TV. G D Singh, director, Digivive, that brings out nexGTv app, says, “Mobile TV adoption is expected to grow with advent of 3G and 4G airwaves, better screen resolutions and affordable mobile phones.”

Design-driven devicesForm-factor will rule the roost. Multiple permutations and combinations of specs will tailor devices to user needs. Phablets (phone-tablet combo) and convertibles (tablet-laptop combo) will become more popular, blurring distinctions between devices. Harish Kohli, MD of Acer, feels, “Designers will be more in demand than engineers.” The USP will be the options for the consumer to use any device any time depending on need. Prices of convertibles are high as of now, but as they become popular, the increased volumes will drive the prices down.

A Leap aheadClick progressed to touch; and soon you wouldn’t have to do even that. Your laptop will understand your movements. A small device, called Leap, set to be released this year, will make a dramatic difference to hand-free motion control. Leap creates an 8 cubic ft area around a laptop. Inside that area users can interact with their PC with gestures. The ability to detect movements with an accuracy of a 100th of a millimeter, makes it the most powerful 3D motion-sensing device. "Moulding clay took 10 seconds in real life but 30 minutes with a computer. The mouse and keyboard were simply getting in the way. Since available technology couldn’t solve our problems, we created the Leap Motion controller," says the company website.

Edge of seat gamesThere is considerable speculation on how the gaming segment will pan out this year. Every big player is scheduled to come out with a new console, though there is no authentic official word on it. All the buzz is around Play Station 4 and the Xbox 720, that are due to come out this year, to replace the earlier ones that run on old platforms. Xbox 720 will have an eight-core CPU and support Blu-Ray, 1080p 3D and DVR functionality, says online journal IT Article. "Media critics believe Xbox 720 will be at least 6 times more powerful than the Xbox 360. This is one of the gaming consoles to watch out for in 2013," it says.

(A version of this appeared in The Times of India, Bangalore, today.)