What will technology be like when Generation Y gets old?

When I think about the future, I wonder what technology will be 40 years from now. Today’s older generation love to boast to the younger crowd about how they got through life without computers, tablets, or smartphones. However, when I’m older, what am I going to say to the younger generation? “When I was your age, we didn’t have mind-controlled submarines!”?

It’s certainly interesting to think about, and while we can’t accurately predict what new technologies will be invented during the next 30 or 40 years (since anything can happen), it’s still fun to predict at least how technology might evolve over the next few decades.

In my opinion, technology has evolved and progressed so quickly the past 10 years alone that I feel like it’s going to reach a plateau soon. We’ll still have the traditional computers, tablets, and smartphones, but they’ll simply be thinner, lighter, and much faster. That is until a completely new revolution comes along, like when personal computers came into fruition or when the automobile was invented.

Then again, I have no idea what “completely new revolution” will come since it hasn’t even been invented yet. I mean, before automobiles and planes were invented, nobody had any idea that we’d be able to travel to another part of the world in less than a day. That’s how I feel about the future of technology when I’m 65 — what crazy new things will be invented at that point that I never would have dreamed of?

The only reason that I say that technology might be reaching a plateau soon is that Moore’s Law simply cannot last forever, even though it’s lasted almost a half-century so far. It’s said to only be around until around 2020, give or take a few years.

If you’re not familiar with Moore’s Law, it’s basically an observation of sorts where the number of transistors that can fit onto an integrated circuit doubles roughly every two years. It’s named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and coined by computer scientist and former Caltech professor Carver Mead.

One of my biggest questions is, when Moore’s Law eventually collapses, how will technology evolve? Will there be another “law” that replaces Moore’s Law? Or will technology simply just evolve at a slower pace than before?

Image Credit: Sean McEntee

Will there really be a future for Smart Watches?

The smartwatch is a fairly new concept but has, so far, failed to take off in a mainstream way. And with good reason. At worst, they are utterly pointless, and at best, just a stopgap filling the void before something better and with a longer shelf-life is released. Or perhaps I’m alone in thinking this way.

The recent success of Pebble has seen many people waxing lyrical over the phenomenon. But that’s just tech bloggers, I hear you cry. Not so. They may be the ones shouting the loudest but the $10 million the project has so far raised on Kickstarter has come from a lot more than just geeks with a penchant for gadgets. These are ordinary people sinking money into a genre of product I personally cannot see the point of.

Smartwatches such as Pebble or the Sony SmartWatch are digital display devices which feed off information provided by the smartphone that accompanies them – including the time of day. Oh there’s a little more to them than that, with apps that can tell you how far you’ve run or how fast you’ve cycled. But nothing all that exciting and, crucially, nothing you can’t already do on your smartphone.

So let me get this straight. This is a watch costing $150 that will do little beyond saving me from having to fish my phone out of my pocket. And that’s it. I have to conclude this is a form factor for lazy people, those who have become so intolerant of pulling out their phone every time they want to read a text message that they would rather look at their wrist instead.

Smartwatches offer nothing beyond what we already have at our disposal apart from being an extra link in the chain.

Just a Stopgap

Even if everybody does have an innate desire to stay connected at all times so much that they feel the need to own smartwatches, I cannot see this form factor being anything more than a stopgap. A watch which still needs to be connected to a phone is only useful to a point. And it will soon be superseded by the next big thing. Like Project Glass for example.

Let’s rewind to the beginning of April for a moment and remind ourselves what future Google is imagining for us all.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/embed/9c6W4CCU9M4

Do you think anyone will be wearing a smartwatch paired to their phone when the majority of early adopters are already sporting similar tech in their glasses? I assume that Project Glass specs will eventually be standalone units replacing rather than complementing smartphones. But even if the first-generation devices, which are now already at the prototype stage and being worn by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, require pairing with a phone they’ll still be cooler than a smartwatch.

Smartwatches may be a hit on Kickstarter but for me, they’re a total nonstarter.

Super Bowl XLVI: The Year of Connectivity

Super Bowl XLVI is almost here, folks. The New York Giants will face off against the New England Patriots in Indianapolis, Indiana for the title of NFL champion. However, if American football isn’t your thing, there’s still a reason to be interested in the single largest American sporting event  of all time. This year’s Super Bowl is all about staying connected over the web. Here are some fun facts that will surely tickle the whiskers of any technology geek.

Lucas Oil Stadium, home of Super Bowl XLVI, will house around 85,000 spectators during the big game. There will be even more people in the surrounding area. To handle the inevitable high demand of cellular data traffic, Verizon will be setting up three cell-on-wheels (COWs), as they’re called, in extremely high-demand areas around the stadium. There will also be 400 3G and 4G LTE antennas spread out throughout the inside of the stadium, as well as 600 free WiFi hotspots that can handle 28,000 simultaneous connections. All of this is expected to handle 2.5 times the traffic of a normal NFL game.

Cell-on-Wheels (COW)

This is the first Super Bowl that will have 4G LTE connectivity in the area, so Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as 30 other downtown venues will be packing the latest 4G LTE antennas and technology.

The cost of all this? A cool $69 million.

The best part is, all of the upgrades made to the stadium and downtown will be left in place (except the COWs). So, the next time you’re in Indy, expect to get crazy fast speeds.

There’s no estimate as to exactly how fast the 4G LTE will be for spectators during the Super Bowl, but GottaBeMobile.com was able to sneak inside the stadium before gameday and run a few speed tests. They ended up hitting 46 Mb/s download speeds. Not too shabby, but they were one of the only ones using it at the time, so don’t expect to get that kind of speed come Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Bowl XLVI will include the first ever social media command center used at a Super Bowl. A team of reps will be on hand to help you out via social media if you need it. They’ll be constantly looking for certain words or phrases that pertain to the Super Bowl. For example, if you tweet that the parking garage by the stadium is full, they’ll tweet back to you saying where more parking can be found based on other tweets. The social media command center will also be used to send out alerts if there would be any kind of emergency.

Lucas Oil Stadium image credit: Shawna Pierson

Staff Picks: The Best Tech of 2010

The Techerator Team, January 2011

The holidays are over and the new year is here, time to recover from your multiple food-induced comas and get back to work (or school). But before the year 20-double-matchsticks gets under way, we here at Techerator decided to take a  look back at what 2010 brought us.

So here it is: our Best Tech of 2010.

Evan Wondrasek

Web-based Applications and Synchronization

Though not a new concept in 2010, it was something I took advantage of more than ever. WordPress, which is the software this website is built on, lets me and the Techerator writing staff collaborate together online no matter where we are. The interface can be used though a browser without installing any software, and I’ve even written articles from my mobile phone.

With applications like Dropbox, I’m able to sync my documents and media across every computer I use. When I was in college this was critical for keeping my homework accessible on the go (especially when I was away from home for 18 hours with my netbook), and now that I’m working full-time, I find it equally useful.

Although incredibly useful, even my Dropbox usage is being replaced with something else – Google Docs. I’m finding an increased need to collaborate with others on documents, whether planning my wedding or simply sharing a document. Google Docs lets you work with others on a document at the same time, in real-time.

Google Docs is available through any browser so I can easily run a complex, macro-filled spreadsheet for Techerator’s finances just as I would in Microsoft Excel, and access it anywhere I go.

New Gadgets in General

Kindles, Android smartphones, netbooks, tablets, iPods, iPads – the better they get, the more similar they become. I can browse the web from all of these devices, send updates to Twitter and Facebook, and they all support apps (in some form or another). With this level of sophistication in gadgets, it makes me giddy to think back to my childhood days when I thought a laptop computer was the most amazing gadget ever.

Android

The Android operating system and its smartphone hardware companions have easily been my favorite tech in 2010. Instead of rambling on about how great it is, I’ll simply leave you with a picture of my desk:

Kevin Ivanca

Instant Streaming

This sort of idea has been building for the past decade, and it really showed in 2010. Things like Netflix, DVR, and Hulu all give people instant video gratification and enjoyment. Gone are the days when one had to bow down to the movie mogul’s schedule and the TV network’s programming. Thanks to instant streaming and video recording, one can gain video enjoyment at their own personal expense and time. Power to the people!

DLNA HDTVs

Speaking of instant streaming, who doesn’t want a high definition TV that can download Netflix movies and connect to your computers via your network? Now that every device is online, it seems idiotic to keep them from connecting to each other and sharing pictures and videos. If you want to see the future of the living room, don’t look at 3D technology. Look at DLNA.

Google

Now this company had quite the marathon year. Enhanced Google Mapping and Navigation, a better organized Gmail via Priority Inbox and spam filters, the continuous expansion of the Google Android OS and its application market; all this and more were graciously given to us in 2010 by the deities at Google.

And what, pray tell, do they have in store for 2011? Tablets that can actually beat out the iPad? Telepathic communication via brain implants? Robots programmed with snarky comments to provide comic relief? I guess that is for Google to know and us to find out.

Jacob Bean

Android Smartphones

2010 marked the year that I switched from the Blackberry Storm to a Motorola Droid. I’ve come to love the Android operating system, and the phone itself performs smoothly. The camera takes great quality pictures, Google Voice integration is awesome, and customization with Android is unbelievable because it’s open source!

Photoshop CS5

In April 2010, Adobe launched their CS5 creative suite which I’ve come to love. Although I’ve used Dreamweaver and Illustrator, I’m more familiar with Photoshop and saw some awesome improvements from CS4 to CS5. The reason CS5 is superior over CS4 is because it has made complex selection easier, improved RAW to JPEG processing, added new and updated filters, automatic lens correction and an easier-to-use user interface that was much easier to navigate then its predecessor.

Kevin Schulte

Android

Android has been around for a while, but 2010 was the year it blew up (in a good way). The original Motorola Droid came onto the scene late in 2009, but in 2010 we saw Android on dozens of different phone models, portable media players, $100 tablets, $600 tablets, and everything in between.

Thanks to my Android smartphone, I normally don’t even bother taking my laptop on short trips. 95% of the tasks I might need to accomplish on the road I can take care of quickly and easily with my phone, without having to lug around a much bulkier laptop. Also, being a giant nerd, having a near constant Internet connection on me at all times is incredibly awesome.

Apple’s iOS

iOS and Android on the same list? Yes, absolutely. Having never owned an Apple product in my life, this August I bought a new iPod Touch to take advantage of some of the awesome content available in the App Store.

iOS is pretty bland out of the box, but once you jailbreak your device (a necessity in my opinion) you can do all the things Apple doesn’t want you to do. Thanks to Cydia (an App Store-like environment for jailbroken devices), you can install tons of awesome applications not approved by Apple that any self-respecting tech geek would want to fully take advantage of their iPhone or iPod. To quote the great Dustin Patterson, after jailbreaking your iPod, “it’s a whole new device.”

PlayStation 3

Sony will look back on 2010 and see it as the year that the PlayStation 3 finally succumbed to every console maker’s worst nightmare – easily accessible piracy. Prior to 2010, the PS3 had managed to avoid something that all other current consoles, both home and portable, had fallen to relatively quickly.

One of the major selling points of the original PlayStation 3 was the ability to natively install Linux, granting programmers, amateur and professional alike, access to IBM’s Cell processor. However, Sony decided to omit this feature in the Slim revision of the PS3, and after noted hacker George Hotz found an exploit requiring the PS3’s OtherOS feature that granted him hypervisor level access to the Cell early in 2010, Sony released a required system update that completely removed the ability to install Linux on all PS3s.

Instead of putting a stop to tinkering with the PS3’s internals, this move drove the hacker community into a fervor, resulting in an arms race between Sony, releasing frequent mandatory system updates containing nothing but “security features,” and the hacker community, quickly bringing down any roadblocks Sony managed to erect. The arms race may have finally come to a conclusion, thankfully, as at the end of 2010 a group of hackers presented a method to sign homebrew applications with Sony’s private encryption keys, essentially allowing you to run whatever you want on your PS3 with no way of Sony easily stopping you, even with system updates.

An unfortunate byproduct of this breakthrough is that it makes piracy on the platform trivial, but if you want to believe the hackers responsible, it was a consequence brought on by Sony themselves when they removed the ability to install Linux.

Bryant Sombke

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

As a .NET and, more importantly, a SharePoint developer, nothing made my 2010 more joyous than Visual Studio 2010. It comes with many new SharePoint project templates that make developing new web parts, workflows, event receivers, and more, easy as pie. I no longer have to manually write mountains of XML to create a .wsp package to deploy to my SharePoint farms. It also knows automatically which process to attach the debugger to, making SharePoint debugging almost as seamless as a regular .NET web application.

Firefox 4 Beta

I’m really loving the Firefox 4 Beta release. Upon first use, I noticed immediately the influence Google Chrome has had on the browser market, as Firefox 4 borrows the minimalist UI design from Chrome, moving the tabs to the top of the window and hiding the ancient Menu bar inside an aesthetically pleasing “Firefox” button in the top left.

Of course, Firefox 4 has all the customizability that Firefox users have grown to love, but it also runs faster and has a smaller memory footprint, leaving more precious MBs for the rest of your running applications. Look for the release of Firefox 4 in 2011 to reestablish Firefox as a forerunner in the browser industry.

TurboTax

This program not only is easy-to-use and saved me time, it saved me thousands of dollars. As a recent college grad, a newly wed, and owner of my first home, I don’t appreciate many things more than Uncle Sam returning my hard-earned cash. TurboTax basically holds your hand through the entire process of filing your taxes, and it took me only about half an hour to file my Federal return, along with one State return each for North Dakota and Minnesota. You do have to pay for filing State returns, but it’s a ton easier than doing the math myself. I mean, that’s what computers are for, right?

I’m definitely using TurboTax again in 2011 and I would recommend it to any fellow taxpayer.

Reis Pritchard

Internet Explorer 9

I hate to sound like a Microsoft fanboy here, but they are making some smart decisions in my opinion. Address bar + tabs are uniform, the way they always should have been. No unnecessary space is taken up, and pinning websites like Facebook can definitely be helpful to some.

Fii0 e5 Heaphone Amplifier

I got some great studio monitor headphones for Christmas, but I’ve had my Fii0 e5 amplifier for some time now. Unless you’re a big audiophile, this amp is sure to make a difference in your music-listening experience, and will actually pick out sounds and hidden melodies you never knew existed. It’s really the only amp I know of for about $20, and it works.

Looking back at 2009

Want to get even more nostaligic? Check out our 2009 Staff Picks for our Favorite Web Apps and Favorite Gadgets & Tech.

Have we changed? Flip flopped? Descended into lunacy? Share with us in the comments.

Everybody Wins When Google Teaches Your Family About Technology

Ah, the holidays.  A time spent with family opening presents, reminiscing, sharing, and diagnosing any computer problems.  Okay, so maybe that last one isn’t in the normal holiday routine for most people, but for all the tech gurus out there it is all too familiar.

If you are like me, the holiday season is spent diagnosing a cheap router, cleaning up hard drives that were set to automatically back-up files, and showing the older generation how to clear passwords in their web browsers. I mean, not every technological savant has family that keeps up with the trends, right?  Sometimes it is your guidance (and patience) that keeps them connected to their personal computing machine and thus the world.

This year, the people at Google want to ease your pain.

This is for you, the tech gurus of the world.  It’s a website called Teachparentstech.org, and it was created for the sole purpose of building a nice technological care package for that loved one who just can’t keep up with the cool features new computers hold.

The site is pretty straightforward.  Basically, one chooses which tech problems they want solved for their specific loved one by going through the various categories and selecting specific topics.  But here is where Google added their love: they created a video for every single topic you can pick.  So not only will grandma gain the knowledge of setting her background wallpaper, but she also gets a  nice, comforting Google employee showing her every step along the way.  Peachy keen indeed!


People with dog passwords need not watch

Once the desired topics are selected (I’m surprised there isn’t a “Select All” button), you then get to preview the email before sending it off.  All the videos are uploaded on YouTube, so as long as your family member’s computer has a modern internet browser they should be able to see the videos when they click them in the email.

Are you sure they only need to learn four new things?

Make sure everything looks good or else you might be spending the holidays like you always do… on someone else’s computer.

Staff Picks: Top Gadgets and Tech of 2009

2009 brought some amazing advances in technology and gadgets, so the staff at Techerator has put together a list of their favorite tech of 2009.  Let us know about your favorite tech of 2009 in the comments at the bottom!

Evan Wondrasek

  1. Android-based Phones – I bought a Motorola Droid on launch day and have never been so happy with a gadget.  This phone has all the hardware necessary to utilize Android’s wonderful multitasking, and I’ve seen leaps and bounds with application development over the past few months.
  2. Netbooks – I’m away from my apartment more than ever this year, but I haven’t had to make any compromises because of my Asus 1005HA. (which I reviewed).  Modern netbooks offer plenty of processing power and batteries that can keep you going all day.  It can be a little difficult working on a tiny screen, but you can’t beat these devices for their stuff-in-your-backpack portability.
  3. Xbox 360 – I’m not a big gamer like some of my fellow contributors, but I’ve really enjoyed some of the great titles that have been released in 2009.  More than anything though, I use my Xbox as a media center to stream Netflix Instant Watch and video files from my PC.
  4. iPod Touch – Until I bought my Droid, this was my go-to device for mobile browsing and entertainment.  Despite the fact that I was limited to wifi access, I typically would reach for my Touch before my laptop.
  5. Growing 3G Mobile Networks – Everybody is arguing about “who has the best 3G network” – but have we forgotten how amazing this technology is in the first place?  The internet on my mobile phone is considerably faster than many DSL connections, so if you’re using a mobile phone on 3G right now, take a second to appreciate how awesome this technology is.

Dustin Patterson

  1. Netbooks – Netbooks are my favorite technology of 2009. I purchased my netbook this year and am really glad I did (I’m actually writing this article from it right now.) Ever since I purchased it, my netbook has gone with me almost everywhere I go. [Check out our 5 reasons why a netbook might be right for you]
  2. Atom Processors – Tied in with my number 1, this little guy has help to push the netbook market to where it is today. With their ultra-low voltage requirements and small form-factor, these small yet powerful processors are the core of today’s mobile computing technology and show that big things really do come in small packages.
  3. USB 3.0 Devices – Although none have been released yet, 2009 showed some major development of consumer USB 3.0 devices. I’m looking forward to 2010 when we will be able to transfer at 0.4 GByte/s (almost a full CD in a second).
  4. Solid State Drives – I took an interest in solid state drives this year when I purchased my netbook (which does contain an SSD). Although not quite mainstream, solid state drives are definitely the future of consumer storage with their faster speeds and higher reliability rates. I look forward to when I am able to purchase a larger SSD in the coming year.
  5. Android Smart Phones – This year was the year for the Android-based phone. With the highly anticipated release of the Motorola Droid on the Verizon network, many people are now able to get their hands on a powerful and customizable phone powered by Android. Although I do not have one for myself, I look forward to purchasing an Android-based phone in the coming year.

Reis Pritchard

  1. iPod Touch – I already have a mobile phone, and the Zune HD just doesn’t have the plethora of apps to choose from that the iTunes store has, making this my media player of choice this year.
  2. Samsung Alias 2 – This was the first phone with a QWERTY keyboard I’ve ever owned, and typing on it is very easy having biggish, physical buttons (I am not touch-typing friendly).  Also, the changing e-ink technology is great for quickly switching from letters to numbers to symbols.
  3. Bose QuietComfort 3 Headphones – Bose means quality, and if you have the extra money to spend on these, your ears will thank you.
  4. LG Blu-Ray Burner (Black) – Home video, now in HD!
  5. Razer DeathAdder Mouse – This was the first mouse I ever spent more than 10 bucks on, and it has made me a noticeably better gamer.

Kevin Schulte

  1. Playstation 3 – I finally picked up a PS3 this summer, and it quickly turned into my favorite console of the current generation.  Great exclusive games, a Blu-Ray player, and free online play make the PS3 hard to beat.  Plus you can install Linux on it.
  2. Motorola Droid – I don’t personally have one (yet), but it’s impossible to not acknowledge that there’s finally a killer phone for the Android platform.
  3. Creative Zen X-Fi – Of the iPod alternatives I looked at, the Zen X-Fi was the most attractive choice. It does everything I want at a very reasonable price. As a bonus, it comes with earphones that sell for around $50 if purchased separately.
  4. Hard Drives – Hard drives were in the spotlight for computer hardware this year. Solid state drives have continued to drop in price and rise in speed, and high capacity traditional drives dropped to dirt cheap levels.
  5. Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse – My old G5 bit the dust this year, and I picked up a G500 to replace it. It takes everything good about the G5 and perfects it, and takes every complaint I had about the G5 and fixes it.

Derek Dahlen

  1. XBMC Media Center – The open-source XBMC Media Center (formerly Xbox Media Center) software is my HTPC solution of choice. With a large development community creating new features and eliminating bugs, XBMC continues to be my go-to solution for media playback on my TV.
  2. Google Android Phones – I’ve been playing around with Android for quite a while now, and am thoroughly impressed with how the mobile OS is shaping up. With the lag time in updates from phone makers and providers, rooting your Android phone and performing updates to the latest and greatest versions is a must.
  3. Windows 7 – Windows 7 released in fall of ’09 with an incredible adoption rate. With Microsoft’s free beta program, they created quite a bit of hype from geeks across the globe. If you’re still on Windows, you should definitely be giving 7 a look.  [Check out all of our guides about Windows 7]
  4. Nvidia Ion Netbooks – Nvidia’s ION platform has given netbooks the ability to perform semi-intensive video activities that netbooks have desperately needed. (Watching YouTube in HD, 720p video playback) I think these netbooks are going to blow up in 2010.
  5. Intel Core i5 750 – With low prices and excellent overclocking ability, Intel’s Core i5 has finally given enthusiasts an affordable path to a 4 Ghz quad-core solution.

David Carman

  1. Large Hadron Collider – It’s awesome.  Still not convinced?Image courtesy Ethan Hein
  2. Smartphones – I don’t have one but they are a huge leap forward in terms of personal and portable computing.  Navigating NYC is so much easier with my brother’s iPhone than it would be without it, we are using it constantly.

Patrick Vinge

  1. Drobo – The best on-site back up solution of all time.  With the ability to add hard drives together to create a backup, you can’t have a safer set up.  Expandable up to 16 terabytes, Drobo can be a solution for commercial applications as well.
  2. Unibody Macbook Pro – The most solid laptop made today, with amazing performance from the hardware.  The only drawback?  Price.
  3. Solio Hybrid 1000 Solar Charger – This is a light weight USB solar charger for backpacking and camping.  It takes about 4 hours to fully charge an iPod, but when your hiking all day long and it can clip to your pack it is a great tool to keep your music playing.
  4. T-Mobile G1 – The original Android phone has continued to receive updates while many others have stolen the limelight. This phone works great and supports almost all new Android applications.
  5. Linksys WRT54GL – This is one of the older Linksys routers, but still can be the core of any good (and cheap) home network.  Easily has the greatest pool of third party firmware released, giving it the ability to compete with any major corporate level routers.

Michael Green

  1. Android Smart Phones –  I use my Motorola Droid A LOT. It is so nice to have a smartphone because I am always connected, and I frequently find myself using my phone to do random Google searches that I would otherwise have to go find a computer to perform. I also find that since I have gotten my phone I am using my desktop computer much less than I used to. As lazy as it sounds the most annoying part of using my computer is waiting for it to start up and with my smart phone I don’t have to wait for anything. I get up in the morning and check my email from my bed in a matter of seconds all I have to do is unlock my phone and open up the Gmail app.