Opinion Articles

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top ten gadgets for 2013

Mark Bridge writes:

I’ve recently been talking to Theo Neumann from Wolverhampton City Radio about the top ten gadgets that are likely to hit the headlines in 2013. The most desirable, most likely to be talked about, most exciting… that kind of thing. Although my top 10 list isn’t entirely mobile-related, I thought it was worth sharing here.

So, with ‘At the sign of the swinging cymbal’ playing in the background (that’s the Pick of the Pops theme, pop-pickers), here are the top ten gadgets that I mentioned on the WCRfm Magazine show:

Flexible Screens. Okay, not a gadget in the truest sense but there’s a good chance you’ll start to see this type of technology on phones, on tablets or on eBook readers in the next 12 months. There are two types of flexibility I’m thinking about; one is a ‘bendy screen’ that’ll flex when the user twists or folds their device; the other is a ‘wraparound’ screen that transforms the entire casing into a display.

Smart TVs. Putting an internet connection in a television isn’t a new idea but in 2013 it’ll be much more affordable. Watch out for 4k TV as well (also known as Ultra HD because it works at a higher resolution than regular high-definition TV) and OLED screens for improved quality.

Gaming consoles. We’ve just seen the launch of the Wii U and its handheld controllers with built-in displays, so it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if the new Sony PlayStation 4 (or ‘Orbis’, if you prefer a codename) uses the PS Vita as an optional controller. Meanwhile Microsoft is expected to update its Xbox range to the Xbox 720, which is either codenamed ‘Durango’ or ‘Loop’ depending on your choice of rumour. Those rumours are anticipating Blu-ray DVD support, a built in TV recorder, 3D games and maybe even augmented reality glasses.

Smart mobile accessories. During 2013 I’m expecting plenty of interest in ‘smart’ accessories that help consumers monitor their health. The Jawbone UP suffered teething problems at launch but is expected back in 2013… and it’ll have competition from the Basis band, which looks like a watch but has a lot more technology built in. It’s not just about calories and sleep, it’ll also track your heart rate and can help you set realistic fitness goals.

Google Project Glass. If you’ve not already seen one of these headsets, Project Glass looks like a pair of designer glasses but shows you information from the internet through one of the lenses.  Some mobile developers will get these in 2013 but consumer availability is probably going to be 2014 in the UK. Google isn’t the only company involved in this kind of tech, so there’s a good chance we’ll see wearable computers sooner rather than later.

3D printers. Prices are falling, making them increasingly affordable. The science-fiction scenario of printing physical products is now possible at home. If you know your way round computer design software, you can create something completely new. If you don’t, you can download a design or perhaps scan the original item – rather like a 3D photocopy.

Electric cars. Is a car a gadget?  Depends on the car. Following on from the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Twizy, we’re expecting an electric Ford Focus and an electric Fiat 500 in 2013. Zero emissions, lower running costs, road tax exempt… loads of good reasons to invest.

Leap Motion. Farewell mouse, hello Leap. This is an accessory for a laptop or desktop computer – but there’s no reason the same technology couldn’t be adapted for a mobile phone or even a TV. It’s a little box that plugs in to your PC and detects your hand movements, letting you ‘move’ on-screen items or ‘press’ virtual buttons with a gesture. It promises accuracy to a fraction of a millimetre and can monitor a space that’s around eight cubic feet.

Tablets. In the last few weeks we’ve seen the launch of the Microsoft Surface, we’ve been introduced to the iPad mini and we’ve had the Google Nexus 7. Next we’re expecting Microsoft tablets that run the full Windows 8 operating system - and new Apple iPads that are lighter than ever.

4G phones. We’re in the middle of the UK’s 4G auction at the moment, which means EE doesn’t have long before there’s plenty of competition. Although there’s no reason that 4G phones should look any different from 3G phones, I’m expecting screen sizes of high-spec ‘flagship’ devices to keep increasing - and also expecting the continuing development of the phablet; part phone, part tablet.

Alright?  Not ‘arf.

The three of us at The Fonecast - Iain Graham, James Rosewell and myself - made our mobile industry predictions for 2013 in a special podcast before Christmas. You can listen using the built-in player on our website, find the programme on iTunes or download the MP3.

Author: The Fonecast
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