Trend-watching can be a colossal waste of time. Or it can be your key to success.
Take 'em for what they are, but emerging trends give a basis for analyzing how consumers may interact with, respond to, and utilize technologies down the road.
PricewaterhouseCoopers's Technology, Information Communications, and Entertainment & Media (TICE) group pulled together seven "Key emerging tech trends to look out for in 2011 and beyond."
According to PwC's TICE, interactive ebooks, mobile shopping carts, and more virtual experiences outside of gaming will be some of the emerging technologies to watch for down the road.
"The future of consumer technologies resides in borderless digital communication designed for people who are looking for "feel good technologies," as well as faster and more secure information they can access anytime, anywhere," says Dr. David Jacobson, director of emerging technologies at PwC.
These technology changes will either be transformational, which builds on prior innovations, or they will be disruptive, by being so completely different and new that they will very quickly influence and change the lifestyles and spending habits of consumers, says David.
Key emerging tech trends to look out for in 2011 (and beyond) include:
This convenient new way for devices to communicate directly with each other without having to connect first to a conventional Wi-Fi access point bypasses traditional Wi-Fi networks and provides numerous device-to-device applications. Printers, scanners and handheld devices like phones and gaming consoles can now share and synch securely within a short distance of each other, for instance, exchanging files and videos at speeds more than 25 times faster than other options on the market.
Next Generation e-Books
The huge interest in and use of mobile tablets or "pads" is driving new multimedia applications. Current e-books transform the conventional paper format into an electronic book, but the next generation will go even further, providing an enhanced and interactive audio/visual experience for the reader through cross-linking of the e-book to other digital forms, including videos, social media and web cams.
Mobile payments going mainstream
Mobile commerce is becoming quicker and more secure for consumers and businesses alike, making it easier to shop and order securely, particularly when making smaller transactions. Secure and quick-click checkouts from a mobile device will give consumers the ability to make on-the-go payments and to stay logged in while they surf for more goods to buy.
The mobile shopping cart
Grocery stores will provide suggestions, advice and check-out options to grocery shoppers using mobile devices including in-built screens on shopping carts that remember your last visit, know your preferences and provide information and offers on what's in stock, including row information and recipes. The relationship between consumer-packaged goods suppliers and grocery retailers and how they market to their customers will also evolve.
Recently released Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards have jump-started mobile and personalized video-on-demand (VoD). This IP-based technology will let you receive your choice of movie entertainment whenever you would like it, wherever you want it, complementing Cellular, WiFi and WiMAX channels and avoiding video-traffic overloads on these networks.
"Feel-good" technology: gesturing and haptic feedback
The desire for greater physical freedoms in controlling devices has led to gaming consoles without handheld controls that rely purely on interactive 3D visuals, sensors and gesturing. A combination of gesturing and physical feedback will have applications beyond gaming. The possibility to "reach" into the computer display and "grasp" electronically-generated objects, feeling their size, shape and texture will enhance education; for instance, teaching medical students to feel the difference between healthy and diseased organs.
The mobile cloud
Accessing software, systems and applications in "the cloud" began with software as a service (SaaS) and is quickly accelerating as confidence grows. Companies are now using time- and security-critical solutions outside of their firewalls. Mobile computing is an important new impetus for use of "the cloud" and versatile mobile devices are becoming pervasive 'thin clients' ideal for accessing cloud solutions, anytime, anywhere.
"The digital channel has already touched all industries and is dramatically changing the ways in which consumers buy and relax," says David. "Companies have to keep pace with this rapid development of new technologies and re-examine their business models so they can compete in the new mobile Internet."