How far can we get from predicting the future by looking backwards? Probably decently far, but I find it more fun to predict the future from sci-fi. If we can imagine it, we're that much closer to making it. This next year might not be the one where you get your flying car or your hover board, but I'd love to be proven wrong there. So, what can we expect to see from the exponential curve of technological progress in 2013?
- Startups will continue to solve the "email problem." Mailbox App looks the most promising at the moment, so long as it doesn't go by the way of Sparrow or lose steam. We're rooting for you!
- Personal fitness and health-care monitoring devices will increase in popularity. We may even see new names in the space. Right now we have: Nike Fuel, Fitbit, Jawbone's Up, Larklife, Basis, WiFi scales, and several sleep-only trackers. To see further progression here, sensors must get smaller, more wearable, and more reliable. First we get good at measuring, next we get good at predicting.
- 3D printing won't yet become a household thing, but it will continue to grow in popularity and increase in quality. It's a good thing we're working on figuring out digital copyright now, because soon enough everything from your silverware to your sweater will be able to be printed in your home.
- In mobile payment we can hope for some unification of Google Wallet, Square, et al. Barring that optimistic plea, someone's bound to start winning the race with vendors.
- There are a million more ways to put filters on your photos, but we don't need any more. The market is saturated. Let's all go find some new problems to solve, please?
- Kickstarter has blown up this year. Expect tons of copycats, plus a greater focus on supporting local and/or small businesses.
- It will be more possible than ever to get a good education from anywhere for free (provided you have computer access, of course). Coursera, Udacity, edX, and Khan Academy fit nicely here, but Memrise deserves an unsung hero award particularly for language learning.
- Hopefully, we'll see a return to solving real world problems. There's gold to be shared outside of our bubble. Look to OpenPlans, Kiva, and Sherpaa to see who's already leading the way. Some of the biggest successes will come from problems that haven't been solved yet like: crowd sourcing disaster recovery, eliminating the hassle of paying your bills, breaking down ISP "monopolies," and making college affordable or online learning credible.
So, what impossible things are you going to make possible this year?