2011 was no doubt the year of the tablet. iPads ruled the world, not just the technology space, and companies from Amazon to Samsung did their best to compete in the suddenly attractive tablet space.
When you think about it, tablets aren’t as innovative as we may immediately assume. The original concept of a Tablet PC was launched by Microsoft in 2001 as a “pen-enabled” personal computer. Needless to say, the “slates” and “convertible PCs” that followed the specification largely bombed. There was never mass appeal.
Apple figured out how to take an existing concept, combine it with existing technologies, and generate mass appeal. Cellular technology, WiFi, and improvements to screen resolution and battery life made the concept of a tablet a bit more applicable to the everyday man. The application of innovations such as cloud computing and touch technology in new consumer-oriented ways were just as relevant. With the introduction of the iPad, the tablet went from “pen-enabled” to “user enable.d”
So, if 2011 was the year of the tablet, a 10-year-old concept, what will 2012 be? Will the technology space continue to refine existing technologies and apply them to everyday life, or will there be an explosion due to some brand new discovery? The former is much more likely, true innovation, after all, is found at the intersection of technology and solving real-life problems. Here are the two areas of innovation that I think are primed to change our lives in 2012.
- The year of “Digital Healthcare” – it seems like we’ve been talking about the healthcare sector for a decade now. New technologies have undoubtedly popped up, but nothing has really revolutionized the way we receive health services. Is Digital Healthcare primed and ready to take off? I can’t see why not. Why can’t you get your annual physical with your iPad? I see no reason, the technology exists and the masses are now comfortable with receiving very personal services through a device. As politicians fight over Obamacare, look for the healthcare and technology industries to partner to revolutionize the way we take care of ourselves.
- The year of “Data Exploitation” – we are consuming so much data these days. Portable devices are “always on” and continuously collecting data about our behavior. Digital social communication allows us to continually capture the ways we relate to each other. The reality is that it’s nearly impossible to digest and actually use all of this information. Big Data technologies have matured and adoption is rapidly expanding in order to manage the data, but just because we can efficiently store, retrieve, and search the information doesn’t mean that we can use it. 2012 may be the year where we learn to not only manage the data, but exploit the data. I expect a resurgence of business intelligence, analytics, and automation as these traditional buzzwords intersect with the “Big Data” universe.
- The year of “Digital Education” – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Education is primed for a revolution. Not an evolution, a revolution. College students are underprepared to enter the workforce. They don’t know how to collaborate, don’t know how to apply their knowledge, and don’t know how to work with teams.
What’s your expectation for 2012? Where do you expect technology to intersect our everyday lives and make the biggest impact?