Now that we’re well in to 2012, I though it was about time for another peek into some of the technologies that will be changing our lives over the next few years. Here are three of my favorite trends to watch as we head toward the Mayan apocalypse…
A Social Shift Toward Privacy
Let’s be honest… you don’t have 500 friends. Heck, I’m willing to bet that you don’t even have 100. As everybody and their mom (literally) continue to create profiles on Facebook, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to sift through the profiles of every person that you’ve ever met.
With that in mind, there seems to be an interesting backlash in the marketplace and a move to reduce all of the social noise. Probably the most prominent example of this is the new social network/app, Path. If Facebook is for that guy you met in line once at the airport, Path is for the friends and family you actually live life with.
The paradigm shift is easy to understand; most of us simply are not designed to keep up with hundreds of relationships. As much as I want to care, I feel like I only have the capacity to dig in and go deep with a small number of people. That’s what makes Path so great… it’s wide-open sharing with a curated list of people that you’re comfortable with. It eliminates the need for filters like “what’s my friend’s Mom going to think when I mention this…”
Is that to say that social networking is broken? Of course not! Half of the fun of services like Twitter are the opportunities to connect with your heroes and follow groups of people that you wouldn’t normally connect with in meatspace. I just think that content like baby photos, prayer requests and venting about your job will shift to smaller circles of legitimate friends.
Interior Positioning Systems
Yeah, I pretty much made that name up, but I think that’s a pretty accurate title for the emerging technologies behind interior mapping; it’s basically GPS for the inside of buildings.
Imagine landing at an unfamiliar airport or strolling through a mega-mall while exploring a new city… Instead of picking up a map or checking out a directory kiosk, interior positioning would allow you to whip out your smart phone and track your position on an interactive, searchable map. Rad, right?
Let’s take it a step further. Imagine you’re at your local grocery store, attempting to track down a specialty item like wontons (a real world example from my shopping trip this weekend). Instead of spending 15 minutes pouring over the aisles, you could simply enter the item into your smartphone and get walking directions over to the produce section (where they’re illogically located).
Yes, we’re going to become even more inept at making decisions without the glow of a screen, but at least we’ll all become more efficient. Imagine how this could help the folks that are new to your church… (where do I take my kids, where’s the closest bathroom, etc)
Near-Field Communication (NFC) Goes Mainstream in the USA
Alright Android folks, I know you’re preparing to club me over the head with your mammoth Galaxy Nexus, but hear me out: NFC won’t see widespread adoption in the US until Apple makes it a standard feature for tens of millions of iPhone customers. Yes, Android devices have had the tech for a few years now. Yes, people use it like crazy in Japan. Yes, Google Wallet exists and you can use it in New York in LA.
The problem is, no one “gets” it yet. The tech is too fragmented, device support is inconsistent and the average Joe just doesn’t get the point. This is where Apple comes in… they take a mystical new technology, simplify it and bring it to the masses in a compelling, “I totally need that” kind of way. They’ve done it with multi-touch, video chat and voice control, and it feels like the time is right for NFC in 2012.
So what do we get with NFC? I know the first thing everyone thinks of is a “digital wallet,” but I kind of expect it to become everything that QR codes were supposed to be: a fast, painless way to share information through mobile devices. No one knows exactly what Apple is Cooking up (see what I did there?), but whatever they push into the marketplace is likely to be a creative extension of the cool stuff Google is already doing with the tech.
So there’s my top three things to watch in 2012. It’s always fun to revisit these at the end of the year to see if I was dead on or missed the mark completely.
What trends do you have your eye on?