By: Matthew Wailling, Director, Cordless Consultants
Published: 16th May 2011
Copyright Cordless Consultants © 2011
May has arrived, and the new fiscal year is underway. Many of you will already have opened the magic envelope containing the number of zeros attached to your budget for 2011/2012. Many of you will already have spent it – mentally at least. But with technology progressing at a rate that’s perhaps faster than ever before, even a one-year strategy can look outdated by the time the funds are there to spend. With the precarious economic situation of the past two or three years you may have been forced to revise plans, reduce numbers and reduce spend.
If however you managed to get away and attend 2011’s technology events, and here I’m thinking particularly of Cebit, CES and ISE, you’ll have spotted some extremely exciting developments with great potential to save costs across the business through workplace efficiency, reduced business travel and more effective marketing. For those who need reminding of the latest announcements in mobility, collaboration and convergence, here are my top ten technologies to consider over the next year.
1 Fuel Cells
As we work in an increasingly mobile fashion, with smartphones and netbooks becoming powerful enough to obviate the need for some desktops, we need lasting power on the move. The next step in mobile working is fuel cells; they generate power through a series of chemical reactions between ingredients such as hydrogen and oxygen. At the CES exhibition Fluid Computer Systems unveiled the world’s first fuel cell tablet PC. Expect more to follow suit.
2 3D Screens
Figures from Gartner show that more than 24% of flat panel televisions will be 3D-enabled by 2014. Every major screen manufacturer is competing for its slice of the pie. We’re already seeing 3D notebooks and Sony has developed a glassless screen that doesn’t require 3D glasses; plus the rumour is that Microsoft’s Windows 8 will feature a fully 3D interface. Death by PowerPoint may soon be consigned to history.
3 Tablet PC
There are now more than 80 tablet computers on the market. Apple’s iPad may have won the branding war, but Ruvo’s 11.6” multi-touch screen is apparently the smallest fully functioning PC in the world. There are huge ramifications here not just in the way we work, but the way we provide workspace. With the launch of the blackberry playbook and now Amazon’s first tablet on the horizon (off the back of the hugely successful kindle range) this is a very hot area indeed.
4 Motorola ATRIX 4G
And talking of lightweight technology, Motorola’s ATRIX 4G is a dual-core processor-powered smartphone which docks into a full-size display and keyboard when required to give a full desktop experience when in the office. This could be the best way to access the cloud – from anywhere.
5 NFC Mobile Phones and Tablets
So if your smartphone is now a virtual PC, what else could it become? Near Field Communication (NFC) turns mobiles into bank cards, allowing you to make payments. Beyond that the RFID technology creates huge opportunities for interactive advertising, and other potential uses include electronic ticketing, ID and even electronic keys. Samsung’s Wave 578 is already out, Vodafone will launch four NFC mobiles in 2011 and both the next iPad and the iPhone 5 are likely to feature NFC chips.
6 RiTech Signature USB
After some high-profile data security disasters in the past few years, including theft and downright forgetfulness, RiTech International’s Signature USB stick will offer some reassurance for the security-conscious and lift restrictions on mobile working. Its built-in hardware encryption, dual fingerprint recognition and unique self-destruct tamper protection is a ground-breaking combination to protect sensitive data on the move.
7 Directional and Hidden Audio
It’s very easy to overlook the audio experience at work – this top ten is predominantly visual – but consider two recent innovations in aural experience. Directional audio can now be sent to a specific person or area, for instance a discussion area, while nearby workspace remains unaffected. And where space is at a premium or aesthetics take priority, flat panel speakers can recessed into walls and painted, wallpapered or even plastered over while delivering exceptional sound quality.
8 Curved Video Displays
Flat-panel monitors are a huge space-saver, but the larger they are, the less effective the space gain. And the heavier they become. Now display advertising and broadcast need have no boundaries in location or size thanks to NanoLumens’ curved video displays. The company has just launched a thin, lightweight, low-power display that can cover any size or shape of surface. This will mean motion ads on tube station walls and visual displays you can wrap round a building pillar or hang in the most unlikely of spaces. Quick to install, versatile and portable.
9 Mixed Reality – Holographic Display
Science fiction, not for the first time, becomes reality as holograms come into business use. RealFiction’s dreamoc XL and Holo-Rizon are 3D displays which provide holographic-like, free-floating video images. While the initial concept is aimed squarely at retail and point of sale, the potential for broader business use is enormous.
10 The TelePresence Robot!
With curved 3D displays, telepresence brings video conferencing to life, creating a face-to-face experience that’s almost like being in the same room. Gostai’s Jazz technology gives a ‘real world presence’: with the Jazz robot in one location, using your webcam and microphone you can experience the other location as if you were there in person. Imagine surveying a new factory development on another continent without leaving your desk. In fact Jazz Security is specifically geared for remote workplace surveillance. The bottom line is a huge saving in time and travel costs.
Of course these aren’t the only exciting developments to have emerged from the big technology events of the past few months and doubtless more will follow. For the moment though, and until the beta versions of Windows 8 convince more companies to move on from the still functional Windows XP, I think this list is a good starting point for the next year’s investment. Singly, and in combination, they provide the opportunity for a more sustainable and flexible way of working.
If you’re devising a strategy for the next five years – and strategies need to be highly agile with the speed at which technology is now developing – all these could affect everything from data storage to office layouts, and everything in between.
Keep an eye out for a series of articles on each of the ten technologies described above.
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