Using tech to Innovate

Using tech to Innovate


There is little doubt that technology drives new ideas. 10 years ago, our primary method of communication was via SMS. Now, with the onset of social networks, we not only stay fully connected, but we’re even starting to shop via our network of choice. And the discovery of new ideas and technologies is still ever-changing.

Here are five technologies that will further change the way we do things in the future.

1. Smartphones

Smartphones are as much computers as they are communication devices. Besides having a great multi-touch interface and fast CPU, they contain sensors like cameras, gyros, accelerometers, GPS and compasses. They allow us to calculate and communicate anytime, anywhere.

In the future, they’ll evolve into personal mobile computers (PMC). Assuming that Moore’s law holds true, mobile CPUs with near super-computing speeds will be entirely possible.

There’s a likely transition from pocket to wrist too, moving the user interface (UI) to external peripherals like information glasses or headsets.

2. 3G and 4G Wireless Broadband

Today’s 3G and 4G networks provide acceptable levels of connectivity, but are often hindered by intermittent connecting speed levels. This will change rapidly in the years to come.

The deployment of today’s cell towers is a slow, deliberate and costly affair. In the future, deployment will be faster and more organic. Wireless providers will likely credit homeowners’ monthly bills for having devices proving 4G signal at home. With enough of these devices in place, even remote neighbourhoods and towns will enjoy solid wireless access to the cloud.

This could also hint towards future, personal mobile computers not having signal strength indicators due to wireless access to the cloud being ultra-fast at all times.

3. Cloud Computing

There is a lot of hype around cloud computing, but few technology providers have done a good job explaining or providing services that are relevant to the average person.

The two most notable exceptions are Google and Apple. Google Docs is arguably the first cloud-based app that gained mainstream traction. Apple’s iCloud looks like it has the potential to cross the chasm and move the early majority into the cloud.

With tomorrow’s cloud computing, all of our personal information and the applications will be available to us at any time. Whether you’re editing a text document while riding a train, or adjusting a sales proposal at a client’s office, you’ll never be without the information needed to complete a task.

4. Social Networking

Social networking as it exists today on Facebook and Twitter requires users to do extra work to extract value. We must diligently manage our community of friends and followers, and weed through all the tweets and posts for those that pique our interest. In the future, the management of our network will be dynamic and automated. The system will make and break connections to ensure maximum value. As updates are posted, for example, only those relevant to you at the present moment will make it through the filter to your PMC.

Social networking may also become more integrated with other components of our digital lives, like our calendars, address books and GPS. When going to a scheduled meeting with someone, you may be presented with recent and relevant posts that person made on Facebook to help prepare for small talk.

Also, there really isn’t any reason why someone couldn’t be “friends” with everyone else in the world anymore.

5. CAD, 3D Printing & Custom Products

We are all about individuality now, and the products we buy represent that. As such, there is shift towards being able to design, and order, custom products online.

In the future,Computer-aided design or CAD will allow the average consumer to design his or her, own custom products that can be manufactured and be affordable. Consumers will be able to use simple software to combine predefined, configured product features. They’ll be able to personalise further by adding their own colour palate, pictures, shapes and even personalised sizing.

3D Printing is another technology that will take a 3D CAD model and “print” layers of material, one on top of the previous, to produce a real physical model. It can create almost any shape, even those that can’t be made by traditional manufacturing. The downside today is that the process is slow, costly, and often doesn’t produce parts strong enough for real world use. The technology in this industry is always advancing, and in the future, it will be able to produce robust parts quickly

Online custom products are slowly gaining popularity. Already, you can go to NIKEiD and design your own customised Nike shoes.

The mass market appeal of sites like these will grow in the future (when combined with the simpler CAD described above) with fast, flexible and inexpensive manufacturing.

Ultimately, with these technologies combined, entirely new industries and concepts will emerge-Something that future entrepreneurs need to pay close attention to.

Shane Oosthuizen
Shane Oosthuizen is currently the chief copywriter at one of SA's leading digital agencies. Having spent a number of years in the creative arena, he has forged a reputable authority in the South African social and online marketing community.