My tech hopes and fears for 2014 – part 1

Posted January 17th, 2014 in Opinions

The Consumer Electronics Show took place in Las Vegas last week and whet the appetite for a year of inspiring, exciting and in some cases, frankly ridiculous gadgets. 

So I thought I’d ponder on a few things I hope might shape technology in 2014 and some that I fear will prevail whether I like it or not!



With the sharing economy estimated to be worth anywhere between $26 – $110bn (£15.8 – £67bn approx) in 2013 and with the phrase ‘peer to peer’ now reborn and rejuvenated in a more legitimate context, sharing has never been so lucrative.

Screenshots from Uber mobile app

There are already some established players in this sector with the likes of AirBnB a global success story and other stateside enterprises such as Uber catching up fast, entrepreneurial minds everywhere are working out how best to monetise sharing.

I think utilising technology to facilitate sharing of houses, cars and even our skills has benefits beyond just financial rewards for the participants – the environment (car sharing) and local community (skills sharing) being two notable examples of this. Let’s just hope local legislation allows this thriving sector to fully realise its potential.

Home automation

Texting your fridge to find out what’s in it or even asking it to make recipe suggestions based on the contents is already a reality and one that I find pretty exciting I have to say.

Nest thermostat

With Google’s recent $3.2bn (£1.95bn approx) purchase of Nest – producer of the Smart Thermostat and smoke alarm – soon we’ll be connected to all our appliances and they’ll be connected to each other in what has been termed as “the internet of things”.

Who will be the first company I wonder to bring out an operating system which doesn’t just account for and sync your phone, tablet and desktop but also your car, washing machine, fridge, cooker and heating system or any number of other household devices for that matter.

Google has certainly shown clear intent with its latest acquisition and it looks like your entire home will be the next significant battle ground for the tech giants.

3D printing

With horror stories of the dangers of 3D printed guns doing the rounds whilst the medium was still in its infancy, I feel 3D printing was unfairly tarnished before it had even really got started.

Fortunately a few negative headlines haven’t stopped the groundswell of interest and enthusiasm for this technology, a fact that was demonstrated at CES this year with a dedicated 3D printing zone showcasing no less then 28 related exhibits.

Nest thermostat

The major barrier to entry though is still price – even the consumer focussed Makerbot Replicator Mini is well over a thousand dollars ($1,375) so it might be a little while yet before this becomes a common reality in your home but I’m hoping for big things in 2014 from this sector.

The idea that we might soon be able to download a design for a new chair or even design our own pasta and then see them produced in our own homes is a thrilling prospect and one that we will be within touching distance of by the end of 2014.

Next week: My tech fears for 2014…