Technology in the New Year

IEEE members and staff predict what’s ahead for the coming year

29 January 2014

Photo: Getty Images

As we have said our goodbyes to a successful year in technology, one in which electric cars, wearable technology, and commercial space travel have become part of mainstream culture—there is much to look forward to this year. With evolving technologies—and its applications and implications—redefining the way we live and understand the world, many are weighing in on what might be in store for us in the months to come.

IEEE Spectrum’s special issue this month was packed with predictions for 2014 and a Facebook contest called IEEE What’s Next invites members to predict the future with a chance to win a US $100 Amazon gift card. The Institute was also curious about what will be, and so we weighed in and also reached out to experts for predictions in their fields of interest. Here is what they had to say.

Tim Kostyk, managing editor, IEEE Transportation Electrification Newsletter

blogKostyk Photo: Tim Kostyk

In 2013, transportation electrification as research and development transitioned to real applications for a global industry. This includes the use of lightweight materials, the total integration of electrical subsystems within planes, trains, cars, and ships. These, coupled with rapid-charging advances and the dropping costs of stored energy, will propel electrification as the dominant form of transportation in the year ahead.

IEEE Senior Member Nita Patel, chair, IEEE Women in Engineering Committee

blogPatel Photo: Nita Patel

Last year we saw a heightened discussion around women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), as well as women in leadership positions. Twitter's misstep of not having female representation on its board of directors and the appointment of Mary Barra as the CEO of General Motors in a traditionally male-dominated industry all spurred much debate.

This focus on women in STEM and leadership roles will continue through 2014 because, while the percentage of women in the workforce and those graduating from college is increasing, their representation in these areas is staying flat or decreasing. WIE is trying to change this with its first International Leadership Conference (2 to 3 May 2014, in San Francisco) one of the many events marking WIE’s 20th anniversary this year. In general, 2014 will be a year focused on women in leadership.

Jay Iorio, technology strategist, IEEE Standards Association, overseeing a virtual worlds initiative

blogIorio Photo: Jay Iorio

The most exciting recent developments in virtual worlds are those that help us interact with an artificial environment as we would with the physical one. Gaming, simulation, social media, the workplace, entertainment, and even the physical world will blur into one another, leading to a spectrum of new hybrid experiences for which we currently have no terminology. 

Kathy Pretz, editor in chief, The Institute

blogPretz Photo: Randi Klett

I’m most looking forward to the potential development of drones to speed up deliveries. After the two shipping giants—FedX and UPS—failed to deliver packages in time for the 2013 Christmas holiday, I predict they will team up with Amazon to accelerate the development of drones used for merchandise deliveries.

Another advancement I have my eye on is smart devices. More Internet-connected devices outfitted with sensors, as well as new apps aimed at making our lives easier, will hit the market. These will include more wearable gadgets that will help us potentially lead healthier lives as well as more home automation applications that can be instructed to perform and act remotely. 

What are your technology predictions for 2014? Keep the conversation going in the Comments section below.

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