I’ve never made a list of technology predictions before so I have no track record to give you any faith in this one.
It’s just that technology — both as an industry and as a growing part of our lives — is too interesting not to be tempted to look ahead at what’s next, especially when you consider the economic and environmental challenges ahead. Plus, I read a lot, enough I think to make a few educated guesses.
Here is a handful of predictions for the next year.
Household electronics — 2009 will be the year when we start to replace those compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) with something even more efficient, light systems based on LED technology. More efficient electrical heating is also in the way with thinner wires, computer fans, and so on. Home-based wind stations will begin to appear in places like Vancouver and Squamish that use compact helix technology to reduce footprint and improve efficiency. Data from your B.C. Hydro meters will start to be accessible online in real time, allowing us to see our power usage in real time and make adjustments.
Automotive — With the Big Three on the ropes and looking for a bailout, expect to see a lot of smaller, more efficient cars hit the market next year, and tax incentives from governments to buy them. The Chevy Volt is not expected until 2010, but I think we’ll start to see electric prototypes on the road in 2009, as well as more electric and hybrid vehicles from other manufacturers. Also expect vehicles that can run on hydrogen, mixed fuels and even compressed air. The Honda Insight 2010 will retail for under $20,000 next year and will overtake the Toyota Prius in hybrid sales. The personal electric scooter will take off in a big way, and you’ll wish you had one for errands.
Computers — If 2008 was the year of the netbook then 2009 is the year of the endurobook (trademark pending), a line of smaller laptops that can last 10 to 20 hours on a single battery charge. New lines of computers will have two hard drives, one solid state to house your operating system and core software, and one of the spinning disk variety to provide massive amounts of storage. Nvidia will start to compete with Intel and AMD in the processor market. Apple will release an iMac with a touch screen, but HP’s new Touch will be vastly improved the next time around and will actually put up a fight.