7 Ways Technology Will Change Your Life In 2014

3D printing, smart watches and other predictions for the year ahead

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With Microsoft and Sony launching their newest consoles, news of drones delivering parcels and, er, the iPhone now coming in 'champagne' – it's been a big year for technology, gadgets and gaming.

But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest 2014 is going to be even bigger, as new and obscure technology becomes the norm.

Here is a run down of the big trends happening in 2014 – and how they're going to impact your life.

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…even if James Bond has never taken a selfie on the bus home.

Improved technology and the demands of working on the go have made smart watches an inevitable development.

Even if you can’t imagine speaking into your watch like a secret agent, the relatively new tablet market has proven that new trends don’t need long to stake their territory.

Models like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Sony Smartwatch came out this year but 2014 will see the market expand – and it’s only a matter of time before an iWatch is lined up for release.

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But how did the watch elbow its way into an already crowded room of consumer gadgets? Blame fuelbands, fitbits and all those other trackers that people seamlessly slipped onto their wrists in 2013 - the demand for a constant stream of information at the thump of a pulse has opened the floodgates.

The real test will be in making a smartwatch that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is technologically capable. You want to look suave and stylish like Bond, not as lopsided and clumsy as Inspector Gadget.




Using your printer to do more than print off passive-aggressive notes for co-workers is going to be a big part of 2014.

Attention has focused on how easy it is to print off 3D guns and other weapons, but the technology has also been used to successfully create kidneys for transplant patients

One thing holding 3D printers back, however, is the number of patents currently in place which stop them being mass produced. These are due to expire in February 2014, so expect 3D printers to be available commercially at a fraction of the cost.

NASA are already planning to launch a 3D printer into space next year, allowing emergency parts to be constructed to assist repairs – potentially avoiding the nasty incidents Sandra Bullock experienced in Gravity.

If you still have issues with colleagues nicking your lunch, worry not. Soon you’ll be able to print your own food.

 

Well, maybe.

If the response to the above headline is ‘what’s a bitcoin?’ then rest assured the whole phenomenon behind the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency may blow over soon and you won’t even have to learn about it.

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But in case you’re curious; bitcoin is an online-only, digitally-secure payment similar to a currency. Have you seen that new version of Monopoly that comes with a credit card instead of paper money? Bitcoin is like that.

Bitcoin is controversial because its constantly fluctuating value makes it unreliable as a currency. The Silk Road, an online black market shut down in 2013, only accepted bitcoin as payment.

There are plans to regulate the currency in 2014, which could risk alienating current buyers and causing a drop in users -- but regulation would make it far less risky to use, and therefore more palatable to the general public. The good news is OkCupid are apparently happy to accept bitcoin payments for customers using their dating service.

For everything else, you’d be safer using the Monopoly stuff.


Okay – living room.

This is already happening with the Xbox One, which has risen above its humble black box status to become a fully-fledged entertainment hub.

Alongside Blu-ray playback, you can access on-demand services like Netflix, LoveFilm and iPlayer , and use the Snap function to run apps like Skype while you play games.

Similarly, the PS3 is reportedly the most popular device for viewing Netflix. In short: consoles are doing more than ever in a bid to prevent extinction. Even if consumers spend less on console games, they’re still using their device to do more and more things. 



Google’s foray into developing a head-mounted wearable computer has already caused a few problems due to issues relating to privacy – and the fact that ‘Glasshole’ has become a slang term for an obnoxious trend-setter.

The photo and video technology can be deployed with voice commands and the slightest eye movements, so people can record, document and observe their goings on without having to whip their iPhone out and give the game away.

In the States, some restaurants have already banned customers wearing Glass, for obvious reasons – taking pictures of food is bad enough without hearing hipsters proclaim “Glass, photograph organic sourdough please” like they’re summoning some horrible techno-genie – and the device won’t be allowed in casinos, either.

In short: expect cinemas, gig venues, airports and funerals to all be suspicious of you if you turn up with Google Glass on your noggin in 2014. Just don't be a Glasshole.


Anything Apple does, everyone else tends to do shortly after, so it’s no surprise that the finger ID technology on the new iPhone 5S is being wheeled out for Android, too.

As passwords become easier to steal, guess or hack, this fingerprint technology could expand beyond unlocking your phone to providing the ultimate security on a number of products.

Imagine using finger ID to log into and manage online banking, or setting up multiple touch ID’s so your kids can play on your iPad without being able to spend £40 on in-app purchases.

In fact, imagine being able to lock or unlock your cat flap with touch ID. Although on reflection, maybe the cat should be the one to do that. And that technology might not be ready for a while.


Released only a week apart, Microsoft and Sony made a big statement with their end of the year console launches: whether you’re an Xbox One or a Playstation 4 player, the time has come to pick a side.

Crucial to the continued success of either console is what they offer consumers over the next twelve months. And while voice recognition and Kinect are all well and good (shouting loudly and minimal exercise are essential skills to master over Christmas), the games on offer will really be what sway people in 2014.

The Halo franchise has been one of Xbox’s most valuable assets, so the decision by Microsoft to make the next game in the series, Halo 5, available exclusively on the Xbox One is a clever way to justify the console's heftier price tag -- it's currently $100 more than the Playstation 4.

Your move, Sony.

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