6 Cool Technologies That Will Change Your Life

Love my computer

Photo: Flickr/smileham

Think about how much technology has changed your life.In the past five or six years alone we’ve had the rise of the smartphone, the tablet, touchscreens, Internet TV, Facebook, Twitter, free WiFi …

And you haven’t seen anything yet.

The next few years will bring to you amazing new ways to work, play and hang out at home.

#1 The cloud...it's only just begun

Thanks to Microsoft's Windows 7 commercials, most of us know the term 'cloud.'

Cloud computing is already here, but it's early. The cloud offers access to unlimited computing power at ridiculously cheap prices: pennies per month in some cases

Imagine: Custom-ordering shoes by putting your foot on your touchscreen; no more libraries (except to store historic documents); having video access to experts to help you with anything, from what golf club to choose next to why your souffle fell.

#2 Analytics: like a brain in the cloud

Analytics means sifting through large streams of data in realtime to come up with patterns or to answer a question.

Analytics has already brought you things like Google Flu Trends and social media analysis.

Imagine: Your tennis coach instantly matching your mechanics to the world champion's or searching through videos and audio (yours or in libraries) to find an exact quote or discussions on similar subjects.

#3 Hadoop: big data puts the world's data in your hands

Hadoop is an analytics technology, also known as a 'big data' technology.

Hadoop scoops up large amounts of data, spreads it across low-cost computers, and analyses it, quickly and affordably.

Hadoop technology has made applications on Google, Yahoo, Facebook, eBay, LinkedIn, Zynga and so many others possible.

Imagine: Bio-medicine apps that can crawl millions of patient records and medical journals instantly, an automated personalised shopper that can always find the best deal for you, or law enforcement agents who can instantly map a crime in action with similar other cases.

#4 IPv6: the ginormous next version of the Internet

The Internet is quietly undergoing an upgrade.

The Internet Protocol is currently in version 4 and is being upgraded to version 6 (we skipped version 5).

IPv6 will allow a mind boggling number of devices to be connected to the Internet ... about 5×1028 (roughly 295) devices.

That's 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 things becoming part of the Internet.

Imagine: Everything in your house (and everyone else's house) can be connected to the Internet. Your appliances, your doors, windows, cameras watches, mirrors, bathroom scale, everything. Your plants will be able to tweet you when they need water and your fridge will be able to call you cell when you spouse uses the last egg.

#5 Low-power sensors will let you talk to the house and let it talk back

In order to put everything on the Internet, tiny, low energy sensors will be attached to everything, inside your house and out.

There are already several types of low-power sensors out there: Zigbee, Z-Wave, and 6lopan. They run for years on the same battery. These sensors will attach to everything: traffic lights, rail cars, and your keys. And they can be programmed to tell you information.

Imagine: (Almost) never getting stuck in a traffic jam because the traffic lights reroute you, attaching voice commands to anything, your wine cellar tweeting you if it gets too warm, and never again losing your keys (or anything else).

#6 3D printing: your Star Trek replicator

It is now possible to manufacture any product, even something like a hairdryer, just like printing a document.

This is 3D printing and when every house owns such a printer, we'll have taken one step toward the 'replicator' of Star Trek fame. Right now the price of these printers and materials is high, but startups like Printrbot and MakerBot are working to change that.

Imagine: Printing the nuts, bolts and wrench you need as you need them, printing another copy of a child's missing toy, or printing pretty much anything else you can imagine.

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