Top Tech 2013

Released: 12/20/2012 4:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: IEEE Spectrum Magazine
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Newswise — The editors considered scores of technological initiatives from around the world and chose a baker’s dozen of them. The technologies, all of which will begin to bear fruit in 2013, were selected not merely for their technological interest but also for their likely importance in business, commerce, and government. The reporting is based on visits to laboratories, factories and other testing grounds, and it provides descriptions and insights available nowhere else.

• Galaxy mapping, via a European space observatory named Gaia, will measure the distances to light sources in the Milky Way with unprecedented accuracy, find new planets orbiting strange stars, and even help cosmologists measure the rate at which the universe is expanding.

• A new version of IBM’s Watson machine, which used its powers of natural language processing and data mining to beat the best human players at “Jeopardy!,” will now apply those skills to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

• Google Glass, a cool, head-mounted computer link to the Internet, will allow users to stay jacked in 24/7. With this visor in place, the world and the virtual world will meld into one vast, augmented reality.

• Intel inside...your smartphone? Until now the chipmaking giant was but a pipsqueak in the world of mobile applications, but a mysterious new line of chips, code-named Silvermont, seems to represent the company’s first really serious bid to grab a piece of what is becoming the world’s biggest computer market.

• Billionaires in space! The world’s first commercial space travel company, funded by a billionaire and catering to the space-travel needs of mere multimillionaires, goes into operation in 2013. With economies of scale, it may be only a question of time before Joe Sixpack goes into orbit too.

• A car of carbon, made by BMW with a new process, will put the superlight, high-performance material within the reach of the normal pocketbook.

• Cellphones will be usable in airplanes at last, because of a new technology for extremely small cellular base stations.

• The great canal of China will move water on a scale never achieved before.

• Robotic deep-sea miners will pull nuggets of precious metal up from the briny depths for the first time ever.

• OLED screens large enough and cheap enough for big-screen TV sets will become available for the first time. “Cheap,” of course, is a relative term, but here it means that at least you’ll get to gawk at these things in a few electronics showrooms.

• Electrowetting, a technique that makes a teensy drop of oil bead up or spread out on a surface, will for the first time power the thousands of little shutters that make pixels on a mobile phone monitor. The result is a first-rate screen that sucks far less juice from your phone’s battery.

• Google Books will get a nonprofit rival, the Digital Public Library of America, whose
goal is to provide out-of-copyright books to anyone, with no commercial strings attached.

• Brazil’s ethanol fuel program will start using not just the sugar but also the squeezed-out sugarcane, as well as other farm waste, thus freeing crops intended for fuel to become food instead.

• Sony’s PS4 game, potentially the hottest new development in years, debuts.

Contacts:

“Google Gets in Your Face” by Elise Ackerman; Jean Kumagai, 212-419-7551,

j.kumagai@ieee.org

“Carbon Car” by Lawrence Ulrich; Philip Ross, 212-419-7562, p.ross@ieee.org.

“The Great Canal of China” by Eliza Strickland, 212-419-7505, e.strickland@ieee.org

“To Infinity and Beyond: Tickets, Please!” by David Schneider, 919-942-4499,
d.a.schneider@ieee.org

“A Surge in Small Cells” by Ariel Bleicher, 212-419-7559, a.bleicher@ieee.org

“The Do-It-All Display” by Glenn Zorpette, 212-419-7580, g.zorpette@ieee.org

“Watson Goes to Med School” by Eliza Strickland, 212-419-7505, e.strickland@ieee.org

“OLED TV Arrives” by Tekla S. Perry, 650-328-7570, t.perry@ieee.org

“Mapping the Milky Way” by Rachel Courtland, 212-419-7920, r.courtland@ieee.org

“Read Free or Die” by Chris Thompson; Jean Kumagai, 212-419-7551,

j.kumagai@ieee.org

“Intel Inside…Your Smartphone” by Katherine Bourzac; David Schneider, 919-942-4499, d.a.schneider@ieee.org

“Brazil Doubles Down on Biofuel” by Vinod Sreeharsha; Erico Guizzo, 212-419-7581,
e.guizzo@ieee.org

“The Sony PS4: Less Dazzle, More Social” by David Kushner; Glenn Zorpette, 212-419-7580, g.zorpette@ieee.org


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