2014 technology predictions: 3D printers, drones, space travel, smart homes and more!

Chip Oglesby bio photo By Chip Oglesby

3D printers 3D printers will help level the playing field for things that can be created and are trapped inside of peoples heads. A combination of people who specialize in design, architecture and printing can bring new ideas to the world. Where it would be helpful: in the science and medical field to print organs and DNA, in third world countries where there are limited resources.

Wearable technology & The Quantified Self Google glass, smart watches, fitbits and fuel bands are just the surface of what wearable technology will ultimately become. Just as the first people who carried portable phones and wore Bluetooth devices, this wearable technology will become second nature over time as we augment our bodies. Where it would be helpful: In the medical field as we build new devices to help people cope with common medical issues. From diabetes pumps with WiFi, to improved glasses that overlay the internet on what we see.

Machine learning A lot of people use the internet and mobile devices without actually thinking about what goes into powering these devices. Machine learning isn’t new, but I think this coming year we will see more emphasis placed on this type of technology. From better recommendation engines in Amazon, to the knowledge graph in Google search results, hopefully we will see more surprising mashups. Where it would be helpful: In everyday life. If we could monitor and predict where traffic congestion could possibly happen, we could give commuters an alternate route, saving time and money on people’s commute.

Drones For some people, drones seem to be on the side of big brother. The all seeing eye that’s always watching. For farmers, it gives them the ability to monitor their crops remotely without having to spend wasted time driving around doing it themselves. Where it could be helpful: I expect to see more cinematography from amateurs to professionals in the coming year. As the cost of devices decrease, the popularity will continue to increase.

Space Exploration Between the work of Elon Musk, Richard Branson and other private companies, I think 2014 is going to be a big year for space exploration. It might seem crazy, but I think that SpaceX will send Elon Musk to the moon in 2014. Where it could be helpful: It’s hard to say where space exploration could be helpful, but if anything hopefully the technology will trickle down to us mortals and give us better gas milage with our puny cars.

Home Automation I think home automation will really become mainstream in 2014. The idea of being able to control your lights, heat and security has a novel ring to it, but it also appeals to the money conscious. Belkin sells cheap wifi adapters you can plug lamps into for as low as $59. We’ll also see more devices like lockitron and nest as well that learns how to help your home be more energy efficient.