Tech Trends to Watch in 2014

Which technologies are likely to gain more traction in the new year? Some modest predictions about the tools and trends with appeal to teens and the librarians who serve them.

leo

Really ephemeral social media
Adults, like teens, are grappling with finding self-destructing social media which won’t haunt them into adulthood. First came Snapchat, with its associated imperfections, now Leo is all of-the-moment, but the platforms will likely change over time as adults cotton on to them. But, as TechCrunch points out, that need is not just about privacy:

Yes, its messages self-destruct after a few seconds, but the rationale behind doing so isn’t necessarily about privacy. For Leo co-founder Carlos Whitt, the ephemeral nature of the app is more about getting rid of the “cognitive load” that comes with photos or videos being saved or shared in public. People act and share differently when they know that a photo or video will live forever, the thinking goes. One need only look at Instagram and the all-too-perfectly filtered photos that appear there to know what Whitt is talking about. The impetus behind Leo, then, is to be able to share what you’re doing without having to worry too much about what happens to it.

Fuss-free augmented realities
This was the year augmented realities finally got some traction in the edtech world. Right now, most augmented reality is still a bit clumsy through interfaces like Aurasma and Layar. For now, augmented reality too ofter requires you to run a specific app to pull up applicable virtual content when you happen upon associated places in the physical world, kind-of like QR codes, which I find way too fiddly. I like Chirp, which uses an auditory, rather than a visual clue, to signal availability of digital resources.

Pebble Watch
Wear-able wearable computing
Wearable computing will ultimately make augmented realities less cumbersome, but for the meantime it’s pretty much limited to redirecting content from another paired device. The good news is that the devices are getting less strange-looking. The Pebble Watch enables several new parents I know to leave their phones in their bags, confident that they’ll receive the digital S.O.S. in a emergency. Maybe Google glasses will leave the invite-only phase in 2014, but they are already visible “in the wild.” I saw a young adult author recently give an entire talk wearing hers. Maybe she was videotaping the audience?

Related trend: kinesthetic computing interfaces and speech-control will only improve.

smithsonian
3D Printing (and scanning) goes mainsteam
Makers are modeling using the printable plastic polymer for everything from fashion to prosthetics. I expect to see more depositories of 3D designs like the one the Smithsonian launched (example above), and more 3D scanning to craft replacement parts via all those existing 3D printers out there.

Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus

Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus


Sophisticated styluses will make tablets a lot more useful
For creative types, the agony of trying to sketch with a capacitative stylus often wasn’t worth the digital nativity. App-integration is the key here, so make sure your favorite is compatible…some top-notch models.
Fiftythree’s Pencil ($50)
JotPro ($30)
Jot Script Evernote Edition Stylus ($75)

The rise of video
Vine, Instagram, snapchat… every social media site is integrating video sharing. Learning to craft gifs using one of the many online or app-based creators is a fun-and-easy tech-y program.

Tumblr
Microblogging has been around. Remember Posterous? But Tumblr’s where the cool kids are, and the creativity in my Tumbr blows away that in my Feedly. And, while Tumblr-optimised content is best — for examples, I particularly love what Smithsonian Libraries and natgeofound are doing visually — if you’re not posting ANYTHING to Tumblr, it’s easy to create an IFTTT recipe to throw your content there from other places.

What trends are you anticipating coming into their own in the new year?

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