It’s the time of year when everyone in the tech industry becomes a soothsayer.Our email is full of predictions for the coming year. Most of them are obvious things that don’t require a crystal ball. (“Tablets will be huge in 2013!”)
But we found some really interesting ideas buried within this avalanche of humdrum thoughts.
Maybe by sharing them with you they will become self-fulfilling prophecies.
1. Bad guys start offering “hacking as a service”
Security company McAfee says that criminal hackers have begun to create invitation-only forums requiring registration fees. Next up, these forums could become some sort of black-market software-as-a-service. Pay a monthly fee and your malware is automatically updated to the latest attack. Don’t pay, and it would be a shame if something happened to your beautiful website …
2. Bad guys try to kidnap your smartphone
Hackers have become fond of a form of malware called “ransomware.” It’s a popular way to harass people who view Internet porn. While visiting a porn site, bad guys plant malware on a computer that threatens to report the computer user to the police unless they pay up.
In 2013, the trend will be to hold your phone hostage. Hackers will sneak malware onto smartphones and then make you pay if you don’t want all the data on your phone destroyed or leaked. So thinks Chiranjeev Bordoloi, the CEO of security vendor Top Patch.
3. Fake meat becomes a real thing
Vegetarians have been producing foods that mimic the texture and taste of meat for eons. But that’s really all about manipulating vegetable protein to make it look a little like meat and taste nothing like it.
The race is on to produce fake meat in much more technically advanced ways. Dutch researchers have found a way to “grow hamburger” in the laboratory from just a few bovine stem cells.
Meanwhile, tech investors have funded companies that will create food from plants that, they say, is nearly indistinguishable from real meat in taste, texture, and cookability. Stealthy startup Sand Hill Foods is one such company on investors’ watch list. Beyond Meat, a startup funded by Twitter cofounders Ev Williams and Biz Stone, makes realistic fake chicken and will ramp up availability in 2013, too.
4. Your smartphone will be like a personal nurse
IBM has promised that one day soon doctors will use tech that will scan your body. They will send that data to the cloud for a diagnosis.
That’s just part of the healthcare revolution landing on your smartphone. Companies are developing smartphones with biosensors that do everything from check your blood sugar to detect the flu. Apple has been promoting the iPhone as a platform for health technology since 2009, but some new devices are just coming to fruition.
5. The technology you use for work will be as much fun as the stuff you use at home
Most of us are so used to tech at work being a source of frustration that we can’t imagine a different world. But that’s changing.
In 2013, we’ll all start to see new work tech that will make us feel like we’re characters in an episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Tablets will lead software to be redesigned for touch interfaces—which will make it fun and easy to use, more like a game than a spreadsheet. Best of all, more companies are adopting tech that lets you download a “virtual work desktop” on any device, simply by logging in on a Web browser or launching a mobile app.