By Blake Snow
You’ll be wearing the hottest thing in technology in 2014, but it won’t be Google glasses or a smart watch. The New Year will be all about getting fit and staying healthy.
“What will be hot are wearable health devices such as NikeFuel Bands, Fitbit, and Jawbone UP,” seasoned tech analyst Tim Bajarin told FoxNews.com.
“These types of wearables — along with wireless blood pressure kits like iHealth — will see serious consumer interest and [be] exciting products next year.”
Other wellness technology on the rise includes remote health care, the Consumer Electronics Association forecasts. With thistelepresence medicine, you can visit a virtual doctor anywhere, anytime, just as telecommuting lets you work from anywhere in the world. In fact, pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens are already testing the technology, though it’s still unclear how soon patients might expect to see kiosks.
As for 2013’s wearables — smart watches and Google glasses? Forget about ’em.
“All attempts at creating a smart watch for the masses have failed,” Bajarin said. “The ones on the market today only appeal to ultrageeks and early adopters … smart watches won’t go mainstream anytime soon.”
The same goes for connected eyewear such as Google Glass. Bajarin predicts smart glasses will remain in experimental mode next year, with first-movers selling fewer than a million units combined. Ditto for autonomous cars.
In the world of gadgets, shoppers will see a slew of “two-in-one” convertibles that act as both traditional laptops and more portable tablets, at least for Windows and Intel-based devices. “I believe two-in-ones are the future of laptops,” Bajarin anticipates. “We will see a huge campaign around these in 2014, including devices with dual operating systems, i.e. Android Apps running on Windows machines.”
Another New Year’s expectation: Bigger screens. That means already hard-to-fit-in-your-pocket smartphones will grow. And so will tablets, to facilitate screen sharing.
While they get bigger, your phones and tablets will also become more aware. For instance, beacon technology will soon be introduced in Major League Baseball parks and the new San Francisco 49ers stadium.
“Using something called Bluetooth low energy, these beacons can be attached to display end caps [at the end of store aisles], and when your phone or tablet comes within proximity, the beacon will alert you to sales and promotions or send things like player’s info and stats,” Bajarin explains.
As further proof that the death of the PC has been greatly exaggerated, Google Chromebooks are expected to gain more ground in the upcoming year, analysts say. In 2013, Google added two HP Chromebooks to its lineup, which already included multipleSamsung and Acer options. In 2014, Dell joins the party, along with a new iMac-like “Chromebase” by LG.
Although adoption of Chromebooks has been slow, it’s been steadily increasing.
“In our research, I understand that Google and their partners will become even more aggressive in pricing and marketing Chrome OS devices in 2014,” Bajarin said.
In addition to selling more hardware, Google and other tech giants hope to advance natural search this year. Whether you’re dictating a command to Google Now, Apple Siri, or Xbox, or typing in a search query as if you were asking another person, natural search aims to make information more accessible to everybody, without knowing advanced search techniques. In other words, your search for information should soon become more fruitful.
As for the most revolutionary consumer tech in 2014 . . . Although they’ve tried for years, the 3D printing industry may finally come to fruition, thanks to palatable prices and a growing interest in do-it-yourself manufacturing. “Thanks to the expiration of key patents, 3D printing will explode in 2014,” predicts Christopher Mims for Quartz.
Blake Snow is a writer and aspiring author from Provo, where he lives with his family.