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  LOOKING FORWARD, 2014

Crazy Gadgets That Will Change Your Life

FUTURAMAGet ready to start living in the future, because that is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives. The year is slated to be jam-packed with life-changing (or at least, life-weirding) new tools and toys. And since the gays are always the earliest adaptors (and often creators), you’ll be seeing a lot of these in the apartment’s of your friends.

We took a peek into the tech world and gathered a few of our favorite here. Which are you looking forward to, and which are you dreading?

Siri gets smarter. We’re not just talking about improvements in voice recognition and predicting the weather. Virtual assistants will learn to specialize in certain topics, so you’ll have an intelligent agent who knows all about the entertainment industry, or about buying furniture, or about cooking.

Virtual reality. Yeah, yeah, we’ve been talking about this for twenty years and it’s always super-cheesy when it actually comes out. Remember Virtual Boy? Eek. But Sony is working on a headset designed to transport you into virtual realms, and there’s another device coming out soon called “Oculus Rift,” good grief. Because Google Glass isn’t embarrassing enough.

Companies that know where you are. More companies will location-aware technology to pinpoint products and ads to you. Uber-copycats will pop up to deliver all manner of products and services directly to you. Housekeeping, doctors, caterers, bikes, ice cream trucks.

Home appliances that talk. Maybe you’ve already discovered the magic thermostats and smoke detectors from Nest. (Instead of shrieking every time you burn a piece of toast, the smoke detector gently pings your phone for a few seconds before it sounds the alarm.)

Expect to see more clever devices that talk to you instead of harassing you. A hot water heater that learns when you take showers and varies its energy usage accordingly; a front door that unlocks for guests and then locks again behind them (especially when guests are cute); networks of air conditioners that modulate operation to avoid regional brownouts during peak energy usage; a mixer that knows what recipe you’re following and indicates the proper speed settings to whip or churn or knead.

Mainstream 3D printing. We probably won’t see a 3D printer in every house just yet. But we’ll see a rise customized while-you-wait printing of products. We’ll also have to start worrying about a whole new kind of intellectual property piracy–not to mention losing manufacturing and retail jobs as printers replace people.

urlCars become slightly less awful. They’ll still be insanely expensive, you’ll still spend lots of time stuck in traffic, they’ll still kill tens of thousands of people every year, and they’ll still pollute. But at least the radios will sound a little nicer. Super-rich people may get a chance to play with self-driving cars, and the rest of us will get better directions. Car manufacturers are stepping up production of much better electric cars, and you won’t have to be a rich Telsa owner to have one.

Those of us using Waze are getting a sneak preview: bizarre labyrinthine directions down side-streets and tricky left turns that somehow magically shave a little bit of time off of our drive. After all, the less time we have to spend with cars, the better.

Weird screens and wearable tech. Get ready to see phones with curvy screens, and displays on anything from bracelets to shoes to glasses to rings and TVs. Keyboards built into clothing. ThinkGeek just released a wizard robe with sleeves that glow when you gesture like you’re casting a spell. Do people actually want that? Who knows.

url-1The same but better. Along with all the new life-changing inventions coming out this year, expect to see refined versions of old standbys: better headphones, faster computers, prettier and more efficient lightbulbs, ergonomic game controllers. We’re also eagerly awaiting Valve’s new Steam console, which has the potential to out-do the Xbox and Playstation.

By:           matt baume
On:           Jan 16, 2014
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

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