Here in New England, we have a wistful saying about the Red Sox: "Maybe next year." It refers, of course, to the annual disappointment that once again we won't win a World Series. This year, the phrase could as well apply to the Patriots of football fame. Come to think of it, our Celtics aren't burning up the NBA either, but it's too early to start crying about them at this writing.
Maybe this year, in addition to the hot new technologies you can read about on page 86 of this issue, we'll see these long-sought changes:
Air travelers who will check their big luggage rather than try to stuff it into overhead bins, blocking the aisles while they do it and leaving no room for others' smaller items.
Light-weight and space-efficient batteries for hand-held devices and laptop computers. Drop your PDA with the current state of the art in batteries and those heavy components could damage the connectors.
Affordable energy-efficient car batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. Toyota reportedly loses $10,000 per car with its Prius hybrid.
Cell phone users who will talk softly so the rest of us don't have to be part of their conversations.
Air traffic control systems that actually prevent gridlock on runways.
Software companies that won't release upgrades four times a year, each with hundreds of improvements to learn.
Personalized CAD with just the functions you need and nothing more.
An end to pneumatic leaks that waste energy.
A new engineering degree in fluid power.
Adoption of new voting-machine technology nationwide that counts dimpled chads.
An end to dimples and chads.
Customers who say, "take your time on that project and concentrate on quality."
The Red Sox or Cubs as World Series winners.
Forget that last bullet. We shouldn't get carried away.