Tech Trends to Watch in 2014

Like every year in these modern times, 2013 was a big year in technology. The discovery of the Higg’s boson was confirmed by CERN, a new generation of TVs and gaming consoles was released, bitcoin went mainstream, and the biggest threat to the security of US internet companies turned out to be the State—but not the one everyone thought the year before.

As we settle into 2014, here are some trends to watch:

  • Wearables
    • Everyone is talking about this one, fueled by Google Glass and rumors of an iWatch. In a way, it’s already here, with “explorers” already walking around using Glass every day, and plenty of wrist technology from the Nike Fuel Band to the Pebble. Still, I don’t see a full blown smart watch or HUD replacing our phones anytime soon. Really this is just an extension of the tidal wave transition to mobile, which continues in full force.
  • Artificial Intelligence
    • AI is one of those inventions that has been “10 years away” since the advent of computer science…and now suddenly it’s here. Specialized applications like chess have been as smart as humans for some time, but now we have self-driving cars, Siri, Watson, Google conversational search, Google Brain…the list of pretty sharp AIs goes on. We’re going to rely on these applications more and more as they get increasingly sophisticated.
  • Fin-tech
    • Huge innovations in payments recently. Every part of the ecosystem is being disrupted, from cards (Coin, NFC), to the terminal (Square), the payment networks (Dwolla), banks (PayPal), to money itself (Bitcoin). Bitcoin is the big one here of course. I think it’s the first time a new fundamental medium of exchange has been invented since bank notes, but look for more applications to be built on top of bitcoin besides just money. Sounds like Fred Wilson is ready to fund the first big one of these that comes along!
  • Patent Reform
    • Despite talk of reform, 2013 only saw the patent wars heat up, with huge awards, more lawsuits (and other legal means of coercion), and even patent crusader Newegg suffering their first big loss at trial. But with the “Innovation Act” passing the House late last year, and the Supreme Court putting a stop this week to the Soverain Software nonsense, and even Apple and Samsung talking settlements, this could finally be the year for innovators to get the upper hand over the trolls.
  • Commercial Space Flight
    • SpaceX was already in high gear in 2013, not only continuing multiple satellite deliveries to orbit, but successfully docking with the ISS (how amazing is that?!). Unless Virgin Galactic continues its string of delays, it will have its first commercial tourism flights this year, doubling the number of operating commercial space companies. We now even have a real commercial spaceport (Spaceport America), out of which both companies will operate, and potentially more 2014 developments from XCOR or Blue Origin. This is a slower moving field, so we’re a long way from SpaceX’s goal to colonize Mars, but it’s great to see progress.

more in the next post…