2014 has been a remarkable year for technology. From massive leaps forward in prosthetics (now known as ‘Touch Bionics’) through to flexible screen technology, 3D printing and brain mapping (which could in theory lead to AI), it’s been an innovative and fast-moving 12 months. Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights during 2014:
Microscale 3D Printing
We’ve all been eagerly awaiting the ‘home’ 3D printer that does more than take six hours to print out an eggcup. And while there are still some pretty major practical limitations to the tech, it’s getting better. New materials are available, and now it’s not just plastic that’s being used, but liquid metal too. This could lead to much more complex structures being created by next generation printers in the future.
2014 has been the year when wearable tech has really started to make a mark on the consumer marketplace. From fitbands and smartwatches to the aspirational Google Glass, wearables are big business, and set to earn their creators a cool $11.61billion dollars by 2020. Companies such as Plastic Logic, who have been at the forefront of developing the technology to make wearables not just possible but affordable too, predict it will go from strength to strength. “Flexible electronics is a reality, already proven through the development and manufacture of plastic, bendable displays and sensors,” said CEO of Plastic Logic Indro Mukerjee recently. “For the first time a fully organic, plastic, flexible AMOLED demonstration has been achieved with a real industrial fabrication process. This marks the start of a revolution in wearable products, the next frontier in consumer electronics – 2014 has been the year that wearable technology started to go mainstream.”
Wires and chords are so 20th Century! In the twenty-teens we’re all looking for ways to reduce the amount of wires we have running around our lives, including charging our devices. We have wireless internet connectivity and Bluetooth, and now a company called uBeam have taken us a step closer to wireless charging by using ultrasound to convert electricity to sound and back again via a receiver. The tech is new but the idea was originally put forward back in the early 20th Century by one of the world’s greatest geniuses, Nikola Tesla!
Flexible screen technology
This could be a real game-changer in the next couple of years, and once again it’s Plastic Logic that’s heading the R&D into making glass screens on our devices a thing of the past. Flexible screen technology replaces fragile, heavy glass with paper-thin plastic and OLEDS in a move that could revolutionise tablets, phones and computers. “Plastic Logic’s development of a colour flexible plastic display is particularly significant, since the same process could enable unbreakable, flexible display solutions with other media such as LCD and OLED,” Indro Mukerjee, the CEO Plastic Logic, said recently. “Our ability to create flexible, transmissive backplanes has led us not only to co-develop a flexible image sensor, but is also key to flexible OLED displays as well as unbreakable LCDs.”
Could drones soon be delivering your Amazon purchases? It certainly seems that way, and drone shipping is already being tried out in the USA. The use of drones is on the increase, but their incorporation into our postal service is still quite a way off.
We all knew it was coming, but nobody really predicted just how big Cloud computing would be by the end of 2014. By the beginning of 2015, CRN estimates that small businesses alone will spend nearly $100billion on Cloud services, and currently more than 62% of businesses are using some kind of Cloud computing service, whether that’s data storage or remote access. The bigger corporations have been slower to adopt the Cloud, but even they’re starting to float up into the wide blue yonder!
The Internet of things
The phrase “the Internet of things” is fundamentally a merger between our everyday lives and our computers, and is down to the sheer number of mobile devices we now have that can connect to the Internet. It’s now starting to appear in cars, televisions and even our fridges, letting us know to pick up milk on the way home, or letting us start our washing machine when we’re still on the evening commute. It’s predicted that the Internet of Things will keep on spreading its influence over the coming years.
1 thought on “The World of Technology in 2014: A Review”
Printed electronics are conductive polymers and inks that can be printed onto foil, paper, glass, or fabrics, across large areas and at low cost. Compared to conventional electronics, these electronic components offer a number of benefits.