Watch out for big data, medical advances, and everything mobile in 2014. The IEEE Computer Society has named the year's top 10 trends, and you can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in healthcare data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
When asked which of the top trends was most surprising, 2014 IEEE Computer Society president Dejan Milojicic pointed to disruption introduced by 3D printers. "This represents a huge opportunity to change the landscape of manufacturing and raise the bar from selling products to selling blueprints of products which can then be manufactured by individual consumers," Milojicic told Design News.
The number one tech trend IEEE predicted for 2014 was mobile cloud convergence. "Cloud is suitable for testing small instances of programs, for development in general, and for sharing the work among scientists," Milojicic told us. "It is not suitable for running large-scale parallel scientific applications because of the limitations of the interconnect and virtualization, which both introduce noise, and delay the limiting of tightly coupled applications." He predicted that even more applications will move to the cloud in the future: "As the cloud evolves with better interconnects and noise-free virtualization, more and more scientific applications will move into the cloud."
IEEE also expects to see big advances in healthcare. "Data analytics will help in analyzing patient data, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature," said Milojicic. "This data, coming from sensors connected to back-end servers monitoring health, could be extremely useful for some patients and eventually applicable to any human."
While most of the predictions were positive in nature, one ominous forecast was an increase in problems surrounding social media security. "This is a huge issue. But it is not just limited to social networks -- almost any cellular provider, as well as Google, Apple, and cellphone companies, will have much more data about their global customers than any individual government has ever collected," Milojicic told us. "Used for the wrong purposes, this data can be very damaging. In social networks, users at least have some options to maintain privacy to a certain extent. With phones it is harder at the moment."
Here's the full list of IEEE's top 10 tech trends for 2014.
Mobile cloud convergence will lead to an explosion of new services. Mobile and cloud computing are converging to create a new platform -- one that has the potential to provide unlimited computing resources. Mobile devices are constrained by their memory, processing power, and battery life. But combined with cloud computing, data processing and storage can happen outside of mobile devices.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will evolve into the Web of Things, increasing the coordination between things in the real world and their counterparts on the Web. Going beyond the Internet of Things, where identifiable objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, the IoT takes advantage of mobile devices' and sensors' ability to observe and monitor their environments, increasing the coordination between things in the real world and their counterparts on the Web.
New analytics tools will emerge to handle the big data deluge and new leaders will emerge in this arena in 2014. It's more than volume, velocity, and variety that make big data such a difficult tiger to tame. It's that the technology world hasn't quite caught up with the need for trained data scientists and the demand for easy-to-use tools that can give industries -- from financial and insurance companies to marketing, healthcare, and scientific research organizations -- the ability to put the data they gather into meaningful perspective.