More mobile options for hot technology in new year
Viewing more TV programs on your mobile device, using smartphones to quickly pay for merchandise, and tags that will help you find items faster in stores are among the technologies you'll likely see or experience this coming year.
Our annual look ahead at technology has local experts giving the nod to all things mobile. Here's what they had to say:
• We're excited to see the growth of companion media experiences, a type of augmented reality for TV that will provide a new level of interaction between consumers and their favorite TV programs. This technology utilizes devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to complement the TV viewing experience. Consumers can connect with current viewers in real time, receive additional information about the content they are watching, even listen to commentary from those featured in the programming.
-- Jonathan Ruff, senior director of technical marketing, Motorola Mobility, Libertyville
• The hottest technology will be mobile video. People will increasingly expect to be able to watch whatever video they want, whether it be prerecorded TV, live TV, movies -- whenever and wherever they want on their mobile device. Several factors are coming together to enable this. Improved 3G and 4G wireless data networks are providing sufficient bandwidth for video. Access to Wi-Fi continues to improve. Content providers, such as Netflix and Comcast, and video websites, such as Hulu, are rushing to increase the "instant view" content. Smartphone sales have risen sharply so that there is a critical mass of customers who can view mobile video and may pay extra for it.
-- Greg Brewster, associate dean, School of Computer Science, Telecommunication and Information Systems, DePaul University
• Four main technologies will be featured. First, voice recognition. New apps will allow people to talk to their smartphone and eliminate typing. Second, mobile video. By the end of the year, more people than ever will watch TV on their iPad, tablets and smartphones. Next, tablets. Apple made great profits with their iPad, but other companies will offer similar products, which should bring down the price. Fourth, 3D-TV. The only things stopping this from taking off are broadcast availability and price. You can find a 3D-TV in a big box store for under $1,000. ESPN is offering 3D shows but will re-evaluate this in mid-2011. If the main TV companies start offering additional shows in 3D, people will start to pay more attention to this technology for home use. But those eye glasses need to come down in price, too.
-- Ray Wright, professor of computer science, Roosevelt University, Schaumburg
• Mobility will rule in 2011. The areas to watch include 4G, LTE (Long Term Evolution), security, and offloading to address the ever increasing data consumption across mobile networks. This year will be paramount for mobile applications for businesses and increased functionality for wireless technologies in health care, mobile computing, mobile payments and increased connectivity for a variety of consumer devices in the home. The challenges associated with deploying 4G networks, coupled with capacity limitations for wireless access, will force carriers to seek alternative ways to deliver data. We will see an increased need to offload traffic from overloaded cell towers and backhaul networks by utilizing Wi-Fi hot spots and femtocells, which are small cellular base stations typically designed for use in a home or small business. Security and privacy concerns will increase, spurring greater demand for cost-effective solutions to protect personal or sensitive data.
-- Ed Longanecker, executive director, TechAmerica Midwest, Naperville
• Item level tagging, which has radio frequency identification technology, will be used more for garments and other merchandise in stores. It allows retailers to quickly see what they have on in the store. It also helps them check for consumers to see if they have the style, color and size of a garment, instead of rifling through shelves in the stockroom. Another hot technology will be more apps for tablets and iPhones for retailers, so they can use mobile devices around the store to work with customers. They can walk through the store, provide details, show how something looks in another color, and then complete the order or transaction right there instead of going back to the register.
-- Tim Dryer, spokesman for Zebra Technologies, Lincolnshire
• We're excited about the addition of "facetime" on the iPhone 4. They also added a facetime application that runs on the Mac so the iPhone and Mac can communicate. This app allows users to carry on a face-to-face video chat. That is an area that Apple could greatly expand in the new year. They could be planning a new iPhone with a built in camera. If that technology is added to the iPad, people will be using facetime from iPhone to iPad to computer. Right now, it is with Wi-Fi connections, but it could be over the air 3G technology as well. This all has great promise for 2011.
-- Roger Matthews, president, Northwest of Us Mac User Group, Rolling Meadows
• The use of smartphones will replace credit cards. People will be able to go directly to a vending machine or do some other consumer transaction with their smartphone. Also, the iPad and other tablets will replace paper documents. Everything will be in electronic form in the future. Maybe the next time you buy a car, you will go to your glove box and, instead of finding a book or user manual, you'll find a tablet that spells out everything for you and is automatically updated. All of your service records, information on how to program your radio and other things will all be in this tablet.
-- Mark A. Zorko, chief financial officer for Del Global Technologies Corp., Hawthorn Woods
• Home automation systems allows us to control everything from lighting to temperature to appliances to security from a single integrated source. With an iPad or other easily portable tablet coupled with new software and the expansion of high-speed Internet, we're poised to control our building environment in ways only previously seen in sci-fi movies. These systems can help "green" our homes as well, letting us better monitor and manage our energy use and make decisions that will lead to greater energy efficiency.
-- Jordan Berman-Cutler, director of program development, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, Chicago
• This will be a year of extreme personalization. On Groupon, customers can subscribe to their favorite businesses and receive deals completely in tune with their preferences. Our mobile apps for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone allow customers to subscribe, purchase, and redeem on the go.
-- Julie Mossler, spokesman, Groupon, Chicago
• Technologies will continue to refine and integrate entertainment, family archives, such as pictures and movies, and computing within the home. Smart TVs, home networking, home network storage and media players all will have good growth. The real winners will be those who can integrate these solutions seamlessly across the home and make them easy to use.
-- Bruce Swail, CEO of USRobotics, Schaumburg
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