2014 Top Tech Predictions from IEEE Computer Society

IEEE Computer Society, an organization of computing professionals and one of 38 different operating societies of IEEE, a professional association for the advancement of technology, forecasts the top 10 technology trends for 2014. Here’s a look.

1. Emergence of the Mobile Cloud 1. Emergence of the Mobile Cloud

Mobile and cloud computing are converging to create a new platform—one that has the potential to provide unlimited computing resources. Mobile devices are constrained by their memory, processing power, and battery life. But combined with cloud computing, data processing and storage can happen outside of mobile devices. What IDC calls the "Third Platform" will allow for better synchronization of data, improved reliability and scalability, increased ease of integration, anytime-anywhere access to business applications and collaborative services, rich user experiences, and an explosion of new services.

2. From Internet of Things to Web of Things 2. From Internet of Things to Web of Things

Going beyond the Internet of Things, where identifiable objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, the Web of Things takes advantage of mobile devices' and sensors' ability to observe and monitor their environments, increasing the coordination between things in the real world and their counterparts on the Web. The Web of Things will produce large volumes of data related to the physical world, and intelligent solutions are required to enable connectivity, inter-networking, and relevance between the physical world and the corresponding digital world resources.

3. From Big Data to Extreme Data 3. From Big Data to Extreme Data

It's more than the three Vs—volume, velocity, and variety—that make big data such a difficult tiger to tame. It's that the technology world hasn't quite caught up with the need for trained data scientists and the demand for easy-to-use tools that can give industries—from financial and insurance companies to marketing, healthcare, and scientific research organization—the ability to put the data they gather into meaningful perspective. The current era of extreme data requires new paradigms and practices in data management and analytics, and in 2014 the race will be on to establish leaders in the space.

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4. The Revolution Will Be 3D 4. The Revolution Will Be 3D

New 3D printing tools and techniques are empowering everyone to create new devices and realize new concepts more quickly, cheaply, and easily than ever. A future where digital functionality can be "printed into" a physical object will continue to be built on in 2014. Digital fabrication is revolutionizing the way that hardware is designed, prototyped, and produced. Advances in additive processes like 3D printing, and subtractive processes like laser cutting have increased the quality, speed, and ease of physical prototyping while simultaneously bringing down costs.

5. Supporting New Learning Styles 5. Supporting New Learning Styles

Today, students from all corners of the world can sign up for online classes to study everything from computer science, digital signal processing, and machine learning to European history, psychology, and astronomy–and all for free. As interest in Massive Open Online Courses continues to explode, there will be a corresponding need for technology to support these new learning systems and styles. MOOCs and other new online classes are creating a demand for learning that is seamless—happening continuously via different technologies; ubiquitous—drawing from pervasive and embedded technologies; and contextual—drawing awareness from location-based and other sensor-based technologies.

6. Next-Generation Mobile Networks 6. Next-Generation Mobile Networks

Ubiquitous mobile computing is all around us. As a result, mobile computing systems must rise to the demand. The Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update projects that global mobile data traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016. Many systems in urban areas take advantage of robust networking infrastructure. However, many others operate within degraded network, power, or computing environments. Researchers must develop tools, middleware, and applications that can help with these quality-of-service issues.

7. Balancing Identity and Privacy 7. Balancing Identity and Privacy

Social networks have become the key organizing principle of Internet communication and collaboration. Although Internet-enabled social networks offer tremendous opportunities, widespread interest in and growth of these systems raises new risks and growing concerns. Social network users can be bullied, their pictures can be stolen, or status posts can reach unwanted audiences. Risks are also related to identity management because an individual's online identity, which is strictly related to reputation and trust, is less and less virtual and has more and more impact on real, offline life. A battle now exists between individual privacy and the interests of the system at large.

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8. Smart and Connected Healthcare 8. Smart and Connected Healthcare

Computing plays an important role in many facets of our lives, increasingly so in aspects of individual and social well-being. Individual health is encouraged with development of intelligent systems, apps, gadgets, and mobile systems that focus on diet, exercise, and information. Medication, surgery, and assistive devices rely on intelligent systems to analyze data and human responses, guiding the implementation and management of therapies and interventions. In addition to work that focuses on individuals, there is a proliferation in use of intelligent systems for large-scale analysis of biomedical data, socially relevant data, and metadata, such as the spread of disease or certain health-habits in populations.

9. E-Government 9. E-Government

Electronic government, e-government, or digital government refers to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to provide and improve government services, transactions, and interactions with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. Interoperability is essential to broad success in e-government. Challenges emerging in this area focus on e-government interoperability in cloud computing, open government, and smart city initiatives.

10. Scientific Cloud Computing 10. Scientific Cloud Computing

Scientific computing has already begun to change how science is done, enabling breakthroughs through new kinds of experiments that would have been impossible a decade ago. It is the key to solving "grand challenges" in many domains and providing breakthroughs in new knowledge, and it comes in many shapes and forms: high-performance computing, high-throughput computing, many-task computing, and data-intensive computing. Big data is generating datasets that are increasing exponentially in both complexity and volume, making their analysis, archival, and sharing one of the grand challenges of the 21st century.

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