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Predicting technology changes in 2013

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Updated: February 6, 2013 6:06AM



IBM Corp. predicts sensors will evolve in 2013 so tablets and smartphones can give people a simulated touch of a fabric.

Ad agency JWT predicts a robot will cost the same as a used car, at about $22,000.

So what’s in store for Chicago in the New Year?

The Sun-Times asked two technology and social-media experts — Andy Crestodina, co-founder and web strategist at Orbit Media, and Mana Ionescu, founder and president of Lightspan Digital, to weigh in on local trends.

Crestodina’s Predictions

* Responsive web design — Design and programming tricks now make it possible to build one website that automatically resizes and rearranges itself, depending on the size of the screen. It’s one site to update and one site for Google to index. By the end of 2013, everyone will be asking for this. For details, see http://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/responsive-web-design

* Tablet TV — Tablets are everywhere, but we’re not using them for everything ...yet. The New Year will be a tipping point year for video content on tablets. Millions of people who have never watched a show on a tablet on Jan. 1 will be watching entire seasons by Dec. 31. And if you haven’t experienced 3D TV yet, you likely will before the New Year is ou t.

* Deal fatigue — No, people will never stop loving bargains. But more people are tiring of offers filling their inboxes. Deal sites will need to connect with consumers in new ways. Other deal concepts, like Nashville, Tenn.-based Edo Interactive’s card-linked offers, will gain traction. Rewards programs are evolving, too. Chicago-based Belly is doing it with apps and I’m starting to see Belly everywh ere.

* Social enterprise — Startups with social missions are growing fast. Chicago companies like Give Forward and Zealous Good are showing us how to do well while doing good. And they’re catching on, especially in Chicago, thanks to support from accelerator programs such as Impact Engine. I predict social enterprises will have a very good year in 2013.Ionescu’s Predictions

* Wearable smart devices — Mobile technology will be closer to us, literally, than ever before. In spring 2013, Chicago’s Everpurse will open its doors to sell bags that charge your mobile device seamlessly, no cords required. Another Chicago company, Retrofit, is taking advantage of wearable smart devices such as Fitbit to create data-driven weight-loss programs.

This new wearable sensor technology will transform everyday sports, fitness, healthcare and entertainment experiences. Technologies that track body temperature and metabolism, alongside environmental variables such as weather and distance traveled, will explode in 2013.

* Social commerce — Online storefronts will no longer be static, category-based versions of brick and mortar product shelves, but rather algorithm-based predictions of what the shopper may be interested in buying most, based on social indicators collected from social networks. Surveys show that 62 percent of Facebook users read product comments posted by their friends and 72 percent of those click over to the retailer website. Social commerce will help merge the “friend” review and comment activity into the retail website and vice versa.

Fab.com, with a payment solution powered by Chicago’s Braintree, was the 2012 leader of social commerce, and proved that e-commerce stores designed with social networks, particularly Facebook connectivity, will have the advantage in 2013.

Chicago-based OneBigBow is bringing Amazon wishlist-based buying to children’s party invitations.

So web design companies should step up and learn to build with the social web in mind, or else be at a di sadvantage. 

* Augmented reality — Discussion and confusion reign over augmented reality’s definition. AR is the overlaying of computer-generated data on a physical experience.

Augmented reality is already happening.

In 2013, augmented reality will involve more data exchanges and real-life experiences around every-day devices — sunglasses, watches, screens embedded in appliances, jacket sleeves and of course, smartphones. 

Imagine wearing a pair of glasses that show historical data overlaid on top of the buildings you are looking at.

Think XBox Kinect, which uses full-body motion tracking to place you in the middle of a video game, including feedback on how well you’re dancing. I expect in 2013 these technologies will expand outside the realm of video games, into medicine and physical therapy, education and even city manage ment services.

* The Internet of things — Internet-enabled objects with wide inter-connectivity will take over and dethrone common devices such as the remote-control. My smartphone will talk to my alarm clock; my car will talk to my tablet; my tablet will talk to my watch, and my bathroom scale will send data to my watch. Sounds a bit Star Trek-ish but it is the next step in Internet availability. Everyday objects will transmit data to each other to augment our reality.

In 2013, I should be able to control more devices remotely. I need to start dinner in 30 minutes but I am late getting home, why don’t I turn on the stove from my phone? Passing data back and forth between multiple devices will become seamless and expected. Say good-bye to the old school remote. 

* The tech-minded employee — A significant shift will occur in hiring. The ability to understand and manage technology will become as big of a job requirement at most levels as the ability to use Word and Excel.

Those who understand how the web works, from cloud computing, to what Facebook apps truly are, to mobile and web productivity tools, will have a job search advantage over those who focus too much on resume experience.

Comfort with technology will no longer be a “nice to have” quality; it will be a primary requirement in most jobs, even manning a cash register. That leads me to my next point.

* Alternative payment solutions — This is the year when old-school retail checkout (point of sale) systems will lose significant market share.

An iPad mini, Wi-Fi and a free app or two is all that is needed to process transactions. Anywhere. Imagine having a conversation with a customer right next to the product the shopper wants to buy. The customer is sold, the retail salesperson takes the payment right there on the spot and emails the receipt. The customer has a great, quick checkout experience, and the business has a happy customer, a quicker purchase and a new email address in its database.

Even further in the future, we will see more mobile-based retail payment solutions where the customer just scans a barcode or RFID-enabled phone, and his or her transaction is billed against a credit card on record.

These solutions have been in testing mode for a long time, but 2013 is the year when we will see a full-scale rollout.



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