Whether it’s a top 5 or a top 10 list, every year starts out with something to look forward to. 2014 promises to be an exciting year for new consumer gadgets, not so much from new technologies, but from years of evolving into something that either puts you ahead of the crowd or be the talk of the party. Take a look at what you can expect over the next 12 months.
(1) Wearable Technology
Samsung made technology headlines in 2013 when it released its consumer Galaxy Gear brand of smartphone wristwatch last September. It had earlier tested the waters with Sony to release wearable wristwatch cellphones and while it has yet to win market following, the idea of a communicator used by Dick Tracy or in Star Trek movies remains a promising consumer product. Apple might just be sitting on the fence to have a similar product deriving from its smartphone market leadership. The Apple iWatch has been in the rumor mill for some time now. Will it be released in 2014?
Another is the Google Glass rumored to be released since 2012. Several companies already market entertainment gadgets in the “wearable eyeglass” format especially with 3D imaging technology enjoying a growing market following. Google Glass is said to allow the wearer interact with the web, take pictures from its in-built camera, and may include Augmented Reality features using voice-activated commands. There is no certainty any of these will reach mass production prices, but if they start appearing on specialty stores this year, expect to be the talk of the party wearing one in the next 12-18 months after they get released.
(2) 4K Television
Once in a while, a breakthrough in home entertainment creates a fanfare that is difficult to ignore. You had the DVD in 1997 and the High-Definition Blu-ray in 2003. With the last 2 CES in Vegas featuring 4k television sets (that’s twice the current 1920x 1080 resolution of HDTV), 2014 promises to be the year when 4K or Ultra HD television starts to pick up steam. Prices are expected to be high and could easily carve an upscale niche for the rich and famous wanting only the finest in home entertainment.
(3) Apple TV
Another online rumor subject since 2012, and fueled by no less than the late Steve Jobs who had successfully sent fears among giant HDTV makers in Korea and Japan, the Apple TV could well be a reality in 2014. Promising a level of computer operations powered by the iOS that allows for seamless integration with your iPad, iPhone and Mac applications and games, this large screen format Apple TV is expected to be head and shoulders above what the best HDTVs today offer in terms of functionality and convenience. If it appears this year, expect only the rich and famous, and moneyed Apple fans to afford it.
(4) iPhone 6
Every year, it has become a sort of commercial tradition to expect the Cupertino maverick to release an upgrade of the now iconic iPhone. Two years is the average waiting time for the next iteration and with the last iPhone 5 released in September 2012 and the iPhone 4 in 2010. Apple fans expect 2014 to see a new iPhone 6 released towards the end of the 3rd quarter, now that the iOS 7 has already been released.
(5) Electric Cars
Those hybrid car models have proven to be a commercial success for the likes of Toyota. Gas companies may not it, but it is clear that the trend to a more environment-friendly road experience has taken roots. With charging stations increasing across the country, expect more affordable electric cars to come out of the big car makers.
Every January sees a lot of informed speculation about forthcoming gadgets during the year based on evolving technologies and products that have made headlines the last 12 months. Except for those that are new applications of mature technologies, there won’t be many that the masses can readily afford. It may take another 2-3 years before their prices of 4k TVs and wearable gadgets to go down. In the meantime, anyone seen to own these gadgets will surely turn heads and be the center of attention in any gathering, whether at the mall or in a party. Enjoy the short-term exclusivity while it lasts.